Monday, August 5, 2013

Family Secrets

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are family secrets so sacred that they should stay that way or is it better to be out with it all and spill? 

I'm thinking this question probably doesn't have an easy, cut and dried answer. Unless that answer is "Yes and No." 

I mean, although it can be incredibly liberating to expose events that cause shame and pain, secret-keeping usually involves some element of fear, right? That "what if..." voice can be pretty noisy. What if I tell and people don't believe me? What if they judge me? What if so and so retaliates? Are these fears legitimate? Yes. Should that fear rule our decision about exposing a family secret? Maybe. It's a situation that each person must evaluate themselves.   

I went through all of these (and more) "what if's" back in the day. 

What if people don't believe me? Well, I guess they're entitled to whatever beliefs they want to hold. A person's point of view doesn't change the facts about my history. I wish it did. 

What if they judge me? Well, it wouldn't be the first time. And I'm old enough now to know that people who judge harshly are usually very unhappy people themselves. 

What if so and so retaliates? What if so and so writes a tell-all book about me? Well, the only person I wrote a tell-all book about is me and my goal wasn't to bash anyone. If someone feels the need to share a different side of things, I'd welcome an honest exchange. I am certainly not perfect. 

I'm curious, if you're a writer, do you ever question your motives? If you write about your history and family dynamic, do you ever receive negative feedback? Have you ever regretted writing something? Do you prefer to keep your history in the past? 

For me, the results of writing about my past have been exceedingly positive but I know this is not always the case. Have you had a negative experience? 

Thank you to all of you who visited Kathy and Tina over the past two weeks. Aren't they the best? I love all of you, my online buddies. 


  1. I am a writer with 2 books published, and I don't write memoir or reveal family secrets. Hey, that's me. Each person has unique family situations and needs and goals to write, so each person looks at secrets differently.

  2. Grace I think it depends on what your story is to tell. If the secret must be revealed so you can heal then you should tell it as you feel comfortable.

    I have not revealed much in writing about my family but I continue to reveal myself as I grow and evolve.

  3. The generation before mine were masters of secrets and lies. Not believing a child when they try and tell you something important is heinous. I've experienced it and it left me feeling as if I had no value whatsoever. Choosing not to believe an adult is usually a case of "I can't handle the truth". My brother knows the truth, knows I know it.I will not push him to acknowledge it. The only time I did, he went deathly pale and I realized he had suffered enough. Other family members can get under my skin with their sanitized version of the truth, occasionally I will react but usually along the lines of my life is full of joy now but believe it or not, it was not always that way.

  4. I have many of these questions about my writing, Grace. How much should I tell? Why am I sharing it? Was it REALLY that bad? It affects my writing, definitely. I can't write freely and openly if I have those fears. I haven't had any really bad reactions to my blog writing, but few if any family members have read much of it. One of my aunts did tell me she liked my blog, but I don't know how much she has read. I'm wondering if I should just write what I need to write and then edit according to what I feel is right to share?

  5. I published a memoir that exposed mine and my family's "secrets," the good and the bad, and I still have no regrets. If I feel regret trying to sneak in and disturb my peace of mind about it, all I have to do is think back to the pain of their lies that inspired me to tell the truth about my life and those who affected it. I always felt they have the same right I do to write their perspective if they don't like mine.

  6. Grace I hugely admire your courage in sharing as you have done in your memoir. Both the depth of truth, and the pain of it, are what make the book so powerful. I am thrilled that your honesty has had positive results in your life--it also has much to teach readers. Thanks for being brave.

  7. Hard to say - I say hold something back - you may want to give your heart, but don't part with your soul.


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