Why Don’t You Keep Your Mouth Shut?

This is a personal family matter.

It’s none of anyone’s business

You’re hurting our family name. This is bad for our reputation.

I keep hearing these and so many more. So many people are bothered by me sharing mine and my children’s story. I get it:

When secrets become safety, it’s scary when someone starts talking…

…and maybe they’re afraid of what other skeletons might walk out of our heavily guarded family closet.

But this is not a personal family matter at all. These are all personal family matters:

Yeah, I heard his daddy had to bail him out of jail again.

You know she left her husband for a woman????

I think they split up again. He just can’t keep from running around with other women.

Those are all things that I’ve heard through what I like to call the “**** Family Gossip Line”. Rumors are spread like wildfires by the very same people who are begging me to keep my words hidden behind my lips.

Here’s a recount of the moment I realized just how painful gossip can be:

My first wedding was held on the edge of the forest on the land that I grew up on. After the wedding we went into the woods with our photographer. We wanted to get some wedding photos in the forest, particularly because of my fond childhood attachment to the land itself.

My dad did not attend this wedding (or my second one) but my grandmother, aunt and one of my cousins on his side did.

I was actually moved that they came. It’s complicated and hard to explain but at that time, I felt very isolated and unloved by my dad’s family.

I took this as a sign of acceptance, and it gave me hope that I could begin to “earn their love”

Flash forward 3 or so years. I found out that:.

For years, my dad’s family had been spreading the rumor that we sacrificed animals in the forest that day.

I still get a hard lump in the pit of my stomach when I tell that story. Just the thought of them getting on the phone and talking like that about me at the same moment that I began to feel loved and accepted by them makes me sick. So, I get it. Rumors and gossip are painful.

But sharing my story…exposing the poison in our bloodline…is NOT gossip

I am not sharing out of spite, or malice or to indulge in a sick need to feed off others’ misery. I am talking about things that I have experienced and witnessed with an intent to help others to heal.

So, no….I will NOT keep my mouth shut.

Just like my daughters didn’t. I will bravely stand with them and all survivors out there. I will stand with the advocates and warriors who are fighting to break these generational cycles of abuse. I will stand with anyone who has ever fought shadows in their lives.

And every time you tell me to be quiet…beg me not to tell…I want you to remember that those words are spoken by nearly every abuser I’ve ever known.

It’s exactly what was allegedly told to my youngest daughter in the middle of the night….

“Don’t tell anyone or I’ll go to Jail”

But she did…and I will not relent…I will not slink back into the shadows.

And, instead, we choose to live a life in the light. To create a place where the poison of your secrets can’t get the air it needs to breath.

“I will be the villain in the eyes of my family…if it means that I can write a better story for the next generation of my kind.”

2 responses to “Why Don’t You Keep Your Mouth Shut?”

  1. Very well written Ashley and very moving, so happy you are telling you story and healing! Keep up the wonderful work! Very proud of you! Love , Mom

    Like

  2. I am now, and always have be so proud of you. You are the strongest person I know. Proud most of all to have you by my side.

    Liked by 1 person

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