Alexandra is a first-generation American who writes memoir and humor for various websites. She posts on her personal blog Good Day, Regular People of life in a small town as the mother of three boys. Alexandra was named a 2011 BlogHer Voice of The Year/Humor and 2012 Most Interesting Blogger and Best Female Blogger by Studio30Plus, an online writing community. She proudly presented alongside Molly Ringwald as part of the nationally acclaimed The Moth Live Storyteller’s Tour, and not once asked her about the dress in Pretty in Pink. You can catch Alexandra next at BlogHer ’12 speaking on “Blogging for the Love of It.”
On a cold, wet, windy day last February, I knew I was going to be taking one of the biggest steps in my life. I never thought it would turn into one of the biggest turning points in my life.
Growing up in a home where anything unpleasant or of a mental issue was never spoken of, I had somehow been brainwashed into accepting the cult of “don’t talk about it, don’t tell about it, don’t think about it.” I never questioned why, I simply lived by this unspoken rule; but by middle age, the weight of all the secrets inside of me were breaking me. I could feel the enormity of millions of words, kept tightly sealed inside for 40 years pounding through every minute of my day.
I could never stop the mental chatter, the undercurrent of not being known, truly known, by anyone in my life. I could feel the pulse of the need to begin my life over, as a woman who no longer had to watch what she said, of the secret life she had to keep under cover. I wanted the weight of the unspoken lifted off of me, sent out into the universe, and to have my feet free to walk the steps of a person who no longer looks over her shoulder in case someone should ask too many questions or wonder too many things about my family.
On February 25, I was going to read, publicly, about the biggest secret my family kept. One we were never told to not speak about, yet somehow this code of behavior was supposed to have been understood. I would be auditioning for a show called Listen To Your Mother, and I would be reading about my father taking his life when I was six-years-old.
Somehow, I assumed that this story was mine to tell.
It was my life.
But after I had auditioned for the show and been invited to be part of the cast, and the live reading was taped and put up on youtube, I would find out a few weeks later that 2/3 of my family would alienate me for talking about my life, for telling my story.
There was a finality to their decision, and their voices were firm as they told me on the phone, “This was our secret to keep in the family. It was understood that no one was to know about this. It was agreed that we would keep this in the family. It pains us to have you talk about this.”
I had agreed to nothing, ever. I had inherited their bond of silence since childhood and was now disowning it. As much as it pains them that I’ve talked about this, it pains me even more to not talk about this. No one has the right to tell anyone what they can write about, what they can’t write about, what they can speak of, or talk about.
I am determined, I am brave, I am going to keep on speaking about my life and claim it. Because it is my story to tell.
Just as it is their story to not tell, it is my story to tell.
Because this is my life.