Our Story to Tell : Guest Post by Alexandra Rosas-Schultze

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Alexandra Rosas of Good Day Regular People

 

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.

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  • Gooddayregularpeople

    Erin, thank you so much. I am grateful at your offer to post this sadness, but real, chapter in my life. Your blog is the perfect place to have this story told: of the fight it takes to speak for ourselves, not ever give up, and not let anyone one tell us what we can and can’t write about.

    Thank you so very, very much, Erin.   I am grateful to you.

  • http://mamawantsthis.com/ Alison

    Alexandra, I’m so sorry that part of your family has chosen to look at your speaking out as a betrayal (or whatever it is they consider it). I am glad though that you stand strong and know how important it is to share your story. xo

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Alison. There are some ugly parts to life, aren’t there? We have to push through, and found our place in our own lives. Thank you, xo

  • http://www.vidyasury.com/ Vidya Sury

    Amazing, story, Alexandra. You are, too! This is something many of us face, and never ever voice our true feelings for fear that our families may cut us off. I admire you for sharing your story, here and earlier. I still hesitate to mention unpleasant family things on my blog because I feel that if someone from my family read it, they’d feel “hurt” (read indignant) Who likes that sort of thing? Praise is so much better.

    Loved the post. Be well! And shine on! 

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you so very, very much Vidya. You being here today means a lot to me, and Erin. Thank you.

  • http://about.met/efloraross Elizabeth Flora Ross

    Alexandra – I am so sorry for your experience. And, I can relate. I come from a similar family, where certain things are expected to be kept within the family and never discussed. We had a secret when I was growing up, and keeping it caused me to have a mental breakdown and end up in therapy. I worked through those issues. But now, years later, I find myself having to keep another secret or lose my closet family member. And I hate it so much. Being able to talk about the things we deal with is helpful. Essential, even. And, as you wrote, it enables people to see the real you. I’m not the kind of person who likes to hide. I prefer to put it all out there.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       That’s exactly it, Elizabeth. I wasn’t the real me. I was only 3/4 me around people. Always with the voice whispering “don’t tell. no one can know.” Always.

  • Lindsay @Lilloveandluck

    I have chills. Thank you for choosing your own path.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Lindsay. I am so happy and grateful that I , that my body, told me I couldn’t live in hiding any more.

      I was dying.

  • http://randomblogette.com/ Jayme

    I am so sorry that you had to go through this, but you are right. It is your story to tell. Who knows, you telling your story may help someone out there that went through the same thing. I have debated about writing some very personal stories, but then I realize that if I don’t share them then I am not sharing my true self. Yes, there are some things that I will not share, but you never know when your words may actually be able to help someone. HUGS!

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Jayme. For some reason, your comment is one I really feel, physically. Thank you. xo

  • Arnebya

    You most certainly are determined and brave, Alexandra. There should be no one able to stifle that. Secrets have a tendency to eat away at us (like the ones in my family where there are secrets within secrets and younger generations who remain clueless). When the time comes to unburden ourselves from the secrets, yes, we would like to have our loved ones’ support, but it doesn’t always work that way (as your family is showing you). Still, I am glad you are determined and brave enough to continue; it is your entire family’s story and certainly yours to tell from your perspective.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Oh, A. I hear you between the lines. Our authentic lives are calling us. I think of the self medication in my family, and know it’s from these secrets we’ve been made to keep. The soul will keep pushing until it’s heard. And won’t quiet down till it has a voice.

  • Jessica

    What a powerful statement you make here, Empress.  It shows how strong you are; it also shows how strong sadness can be.  What a terrible thing to face – not only as a child, but as you illustrate here through your whole life.  Thank you for being brave enough to share something so personal.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you so much, Jessica. It is very sad. And I can’t believe they would choose silence over a relationship. I can’t. It’s why the internet has become even more important to me this year.

  • Ann

    It’s a high price to pay, but not nearly as high as the cost to ourselves (and others) of silence. Thank you once again, Alexandra. Your meteoric journey is something to behold.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Ann, I mean it every time I say that I remember the moment my life changed: it was reading for the Listen To Your Mother Show.

      I think of how many others you have freed to finally live a true life.

      Thank you forever, Ann, for your Listen To Your Mother Shows. Thank you forever. .

  • KLZ

    Silence can be a cruel weapon. I love you for all the words you speak.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       KLZ, you me : always.

      xo

  • http://www.mommyalwayswins.com/ Colleen – Mommy Always Wins

    Wow Alexandra, I’m glad you moved forward with telling your story! I know that’s often something I struggle with…”Is this MY story to tell?” My answer should always be yes.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Colleen: my in real life blogger from my town. It’s so nice to see you. Thank you so much. Yes, I love the internet. It has saved my life.

      I hope all is well with you and your boys. It was wonderful to meet you.

  • Ellie

    Oh, Alexandra, I’m so sorry for their reaction, but I’m cheering you on for breaking the vow of silence you never agreed to take.  I also grew up in that “don’t talk about the bad stuff” family, and I know how much courage it takes to break through that.  I applaud you and the example you set (and inspiration!) for others like me.  Thank you.  

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       HOW WONDERFUL IT IS TO SEE YOU AND HEAR FROM YOU, Ellie. I wear your LTYM necklace EVERY SINGLE DAY. It helps me walk proud, wherever I go, whatever is said to me: it does this for me.

      THANK YOU.

  • http://amandamagee.com amandamagee

    If we were to each live our life with the sole purpose of keeping our actions from displeasing others, I don’t think what we would live could be called a life. This doesn’t mean we ought to hurt people, but I have always found that the harder you stick the cork in, the more explosive and damaging it is when it finally pops, or worse, it rots your insides.

    I am so relieved for the girl that you were at 6 and all the yous that followed without him, to have been given the chance to share what you lived. Big love to you.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Amanda. Can’t wait to look into your eyes at BlogHer. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lauraBseymour Laura S.

    This post spoke to me in a way that few have.

    Thank you for sharing. 

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Laura, I’m wishing you’d email me. This exchange feels like the beginning of something….

      • http://twitter.com/lauraBseymour Laura S.

         I will.

  • http://gopopgo.wordpress.com/ Pop

     I applaud you for your courage, Empress. But I also applaud the fact that now 1/3 of your family is FREE as well.

    My nephew said something profound to me a while back that I’ll never forget. He basically said, something to the effect of: uncle…I have to keep this secret but it feels really bad. It feels like a fart – if I fart it will smell bad and people won’t like it. But if I hold it in, it hurts me.

    Out of the mouth of babes.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       We know, our bodies and minds know. We are not meant to be alone. We have each other. If we could make it by ourselves, we would.

      And I wasn’t.

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    Alexandra,

    Two issues spring to my mind in deciding whether or not something can/should be shared: 
    INTENTIONS: Does the person want to tell a story to help other or herself? Or is this merely gossip for a cheap thrill or (much worse) meant to spread maliciousness”

    INVOLVEMENT: Does the person play a role in the story? Is there a direct (or even indirect) impact or is it secondhand/hearsay?

    The story – the TRUTH – you told about your father was indeed yours to tell; as his daughter, his loss had a major impact on you. And your intentions were to free yourself from silence, to express your love and pain.

    This sets the bar, in my opinion…and is one of the many reasons I admire you so.

    Much love to you.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Julie. You have been an unbelievable presence in my internet life, and I can’t thank you enough.

  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    There are things in my family that people never want to talk about too.  And I just don’t get it.  Everyone has their problems and issues.  I’ve yet to meet a family that does not. Most of the time once you share your story, others feel better about the things going on in their lives because then they KNOW they are not alone… 

    Anyway, I am so sorry that your family has decided to take that stance.  But I’m so glad you’ve decided to take YOURS. 

    xo

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       It is very sad for me, Elaine. But I’ve left messages and sent emails and sent letters. They are unshakeable in what they feel is right.

  • http://twitter.com/MomMadeItLookEZ Jennifer Williams

    I’ve tried to be very cautious about some of the stories I know. I consider what was my involvement, how much of the story is mine, who will I hurt, is this a secret… Then I saw a quote by Anne Lamott about how if people didn’t want you to write about them then they should have behaved better. There is so much truth to that. Once someone invites you into their story you become a part of it, and you have an inalienable right to tell that part of the story. I don’t think people realize that through voicing these “secrets” we are able to heal and just how important that is.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       I had to talk. I couldn’t any more. Not even my own kids knew me.

      It’s an awful way to live, it’s not even living. It’s just playing a role every day.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Jumping in here, Jennifer, because I love that Anne Lamott quote. It keeps me going sometimes….as do you. And Empress. And all of the bloggers in our sphere. Sharing our stories, keeping each other afloat. I can’t wait to meet you BOTH in a few weeks.

  • http://theresjustonemommy.com/ OneMommy

    Kuddos to you for telling the story, even when so many wanted it to be kept secret.  May it free you and those involved.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       It’s the only way I could make room for growth: so much room was taken up by the past lives, because of how much heavier the secret became with every single year.

  • http://www.lastmomonearth.com/ Amanda

    I love this and think you are so right.  Just because a story about YOUR life doesn’t involve only you, it doesn’t mean that anybody else owns the rights to your experience.  You are wonderful.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       I love you, my lady. I know how you understand me.

  • http://twitter.com/jenrenpody Jennifer Gaskell

    Alexandra, thank you so much for telling your story.  Your courage and your honesty has helped me to start telling my story.  It is your life, and you deserve to tell your story and own your truth.  Meeting you has been one of the best gifts I received from blogging. 

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Jen, I loved meeting you as well. Everything you say here, mutual feelings.

  • http://almostakiss.wordpress.com/ Chrisor

    I’m so sorry that your family doesn’t understand your need to tell the story. I couldn’t agree with you more. If they choose to keep it a secret, that’s fine but the story of how it affected the 6 year old you is yours to tell. You’re so brave and you have a whole community here to listen to every single thing you want to share.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       I love the internet b/c it has become my family, my village.

  • Lisa B

    Take care of your mental health, just as you would (and people expect you to) take care of your physical health.  The two are intertwined anyway.  I’m so sad that you had to go through this dreadfull experience as a little child, and then another piece of your childhood was taken away by not being allowed to talk about it.  I’m sure your family thought it was “best.”  But even people who love us, and whom we love, do not know what we need to get through certain issues.  I say “through,” not “over,” because we will never get over some things, but hopefully we will learn better ways to cope with them so that they can’t hurt us as much.  

    Best wishes and strength to you!
    Lisa

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Lisa. I feel like I don’t even recognize the person I was before I began talking last year.

  • Ally

    This video is so powerful. I agree with what someone else said in the comments – even if it helps one other person out there, that’s a big effect to have. If it helps you to become fully you, it is enough.

    What you read was about you. It wasn’t about disparaging family or anyone else. It was YOUR story. It’s pretty amazing to be a tiny, tiny part of a big blogging community with so many strong women. You are surely one of them.

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Ally. I can’t connect to you through your name here. Where can I find you?

  • http://www.mamasmonologues.com Kimberly

    There are many issues in my family that, for whatever reason, they choose to not talk about. I can’t do it though. There are some things that I just can’t hold inside any longer. I’m doing my harm to myself keeping them in than I could do if I let them out. So now? I talk. I’m starting to shed that skin and it feels good.

    I’m sorry you went through this, and I’m so sorry they chose that decision. But I am so very glad that you’ve taken your stance. 

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       It feels more than good. There should be a new word invented for how it feels. It feels like listening to your favorite song with wild wind blowing through your hair while you drive 80 mph in a car with the top down.

      It feels just like that.

  • http://twitter.com/GalitBreen Galit Breen

    I love your passion, your heart, your rightness.

    {I’m so sorry about so very much here. But mostly I celebrate you, and that voice of your’s that you use so, incredibly well.}

    xo

    • Gooddayregularpeople

       Thank you, Galit. I know how you really read the words a person writes. Thank you.

  • http://sperk77.blogspot.com/ Sperk*

    My family is small.  So when I alienated 100% of them by sharing my story, I thought I wouldn’t miss three people too terribly much.  But I did and do, and feel uncertain of extended members and friends.  Part of sharing my story was freeing, but it was equal parts grief.  I’d like to think that by living honestly and healthily, new people will arrive (or are already here) that will be like family.

    Congratulations on your success…maybe bittersweet at times…but, oh, how you pave the way for others to also speak up and share their stories.  I firmly believe sharing stories makes the world a better place…we grow, we share, we heal…

    Glad to know you here. 

  • http://twitter.com/mommyhoodnxtrt Jessica F. Hinton

    This post hit home. I learned through blogging that our stories are shared and that I can never pretend to tell any story other than the one that belongs to me. I’m glad that you told your story and hope that your family can someday accept your story and your right to it.

    • alexandra

      Thank you, Jessica. To not live a life true to who I was, was seeping into every corner, especially when it came to mothering. I had to tell my children we have a strong family suicide history. Not just one suicide, but several. And attempts, as well. They need to know. Sharing our stories saves us.

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  • Mack N. Cheese

    “You own everything that happend to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott