From time to time I am asked why I chose to share my story of overcoming a difficult childhood. My answer below:
When I first decided to share my personal story of overcoming a difficult childhood earlier this year, it was a choice met with frustration, flack, and eventually freedom. I literally sat down for a week and a half and wrote with passion. Words emotionally wept from open wounds of a past still raw for me. Even though most of my struggles peaked at ten to fifteen years ago, I still spiritually hurt. For me, sitting and writing was the percursor to my healing and the marker to my path of confidence and happiness.
Over the years that I moved away and lived for the first time on my own as a new freshman at Ricks College in Idaho, I tried to find my peace that I felt I so desperately deserved. I looked around me and what I saw were young women and young men who lived in mostly perfect homes being raised by caring parents. Each parent that brought their child to my dorm and set them up with new furniture and food to last a month was a constant reminder to me that I didn’t have anyone to fall to. It ate me up inside. However, what do you do and what do you say when you’re eighteen, confused, and out for the first time on your own–alone?
It would be several years later, and after I married and had children of my own, that I finally chose to look at myself in the mirror and get real. Writing my story forced me to look within and come to grasp with how I had felt for so many years. Writing was therapeutic and writing was also the easy part.
Sharing my story has been one of the most difficult tasks I have ever undertaken.
I knew my family would be angry with me for exposing our family’s dirty secrets in the open. The reason I went ahead had to do with the fact that I knew I had to let them go. It hurt me at first, however I had been through enough and so much that I knew the only way for me to break the treacherous chains of abuse for my own children was to end contact with them. It pained me deeply at first, because I had always wanted to have a family and now I conscientiously making the decision to keep my own family out of my life. My counselor’s words spoke to me: You don’t have to have your family in your life if you choose not to. His words hadn’t made sense to me until that fateful spring day earlier this year.
On the other hand, there are others who I have managed to keep in contact with in one form or another that I knew were going to read Screwed Up: My Life and I didn’t want to disrespect them. Even though I was hurt by some of these individuals, I still feel a need to protect them. I knew we had both done the best we could with what knowledge and resources we had–even if very little–at the time. I want to make it clear that I do not presently hold any grudges against any of the families I have lived with even if it seems so in my story.
In the end, sharing my story with my readers has given me the confidence to allow myself to move on. It has given me a special insight into others. I realize that sharing in this manner is not for everyone. The greatest prize in me telling my story so openly is that in doing so I have realized I am not alone in my struggles–even if I may never have a traditional extended family again.