You’ll know when it’s time to share your story

I started off writing this as a comment to my blogging friend Alexis Rose, author of the book Untangled, for her post entitled “You’ll know when it’s time to share your story.” But I have decided to reblog her post here on my blog, and use my comment to Alexis as a preface to her post.

Dear Alexis,
I read this several hours ago when you first posted it, and I have been thinking about what you said here ever since. About how you rarely share the details of your life story when you talk to people, because you think that your trauma history is too extreme for most people to relate to. I have also been thinking about the statement you made in this post, about how some people don’t believe your true story.

Me, too, on both of those things.

I’m sure there were people who did not believe that the Turpins would chain their 13 children to their beds, only give them one small meal a day, make them live and sleep in their own body wastes, only allow them one shower per year, and refuse to let them leave the house, even years after the older ones reached the age of adulthood. Especially when you look at the pictures taken on their trips to Disney World and to Las Vegas, where the Turpin parents reaffirmed their wedding vows, surrounded by all their children. How neat and clean and pretty the family looks, all dressed up and smiling for the camera. They look like a wonderful, loving family in those carefully staged pictures. And yet, as I recently read in the news, the Turpin parents both pleaded guilty to all of these horrific abuses and more, a little over a month ago.

Then there’s the Hart couple, who drove their six children off a California cliff into the Pacific ocean in March of last year. Just this morning, I read a story on MSN that says a jury found the adoptive parents guilty of intentionally killing themselves and murdering their children. In that same article are pictures of the Hart family, all posed with big pretty smiles and holding signs about love and kindness.

While it’s true that most people can’t relate to someone who grew up in an abusive household like the Turpin children, or whose parents murdered their children like the Hart couple did, this doesn’t mean that their stories should not be told. And yes, it is hard to believe that the smiling, proud looking parents in the Turpins’ and the Harts’ family photos could commit such unthinkable atrocities against their children. But it is obvious, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this is what they did.

My dad was a church pastor throughout much of my childhood. And yet, when I was a toddler, he stopped the car on the Oakland Bay Bridge, pulled me out of the car, carried me over to the railing, held me against the cold steel rail, and told me that he was going to throw me off the bridge and that I was going to fall into the ocean and die. And this was just one of many horrific abusive crazy things that my father did throughout my childhood and into my young adulthood.

My mother sang solos in church. She baked chocolate chip cookies and she loved to “win souls for Christ.” Yet when I was twelve years old, she tried to gas our whole family to death. And this is just one of many horrific abusive crazy things that my mother did throughout my childhood and into my young adulthood.

Most people probably can’t relate to that level of abuse. And most people would probably have a hard time believing that it really happened, especially if they ever saw my carefully posed childhood family pictures.

I wish “most people” were right and that my story really wasn’t true. I wish I was like all the “normals” who can’t relate or even believe in such extreme trauma.

But here’s the thing that I am finally coming to understand, Alexis. I am not writing my memoir and sharing my story for the benefit of the unbelieving “normals”. I’m telling and writing my story because people like you and me are not alone. Although the details of your story, the details of my story, and the details of the Turpin children and the poor dead Hart children are very different, the atrocity level, the depth of the horror, is very much the same.

We aren’t the only ones with not just one, but two, extremely abusive and neglectful parents. How many others are there that have never caught the attention of any law enforcement agencies and whose stories will never make it to the news? In this crazy broken fallen world, there are many others like us. We need to boldly write and speak our truth for them.

We need to let them know that they aren’t alone and that it is possible to heal and even to thrive.

Untangled

So much has changed since my memoir was published nearly four years ago. Before I wrote the book, my entire life was focused on keeping quiet, not telling, protecting those I loved, or who loved me. It took me a long time to understand that by keeping quiet, I was actually protecting the people who hurt me in my life. Writing Untangled was a way to announce in a really big way, that I will not keep quiet any longer.

I have been in a poetic place with my writing lately. It’s been easier for me to express myself in poetry. It’s a way to get to the meat of my feelings. I absolutely love the creativity of poetry. It feeds my soul, it takes me to places where I say to myself, “If I could paint a picture, this is what it would look like.”

The other day someone…

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18 thoughts on “You’ll know when it’s time to share your story

  1. Alexis Rose April 6, 2019 / 4:53 am

    Linda, its amazing how the universe works sometimes. Im awake at 5 am just wondering what I should really talk about today, and doubting my own truth and then I read this!

    First thank you for reblogging my post, I really appreciate it. And Thank You!! for the honest message you wrote above. You are absolutely right and it has me thinking. We hear about the horrible things that happened in those families in the news for a few days and they are gone. There is the curiosity, the disbelief, and then we never hear about what happens to the children (if they are still with us.)

    I originally wrote my memoir for me too. Besides my husband, and a few friends I didn’t think anyone would ever read it. The connections I’ve made these past few years with other survivors, you included, have been life changing. I never knew anyone like me was out there.

    In fact, you were one of the first blogs I found on WordPress. Isnt that something?! So now, I think after reading your message to me, I can get a couple more hours sleep and go into this talk with confidence that it really is okay to share. Thank you my friend ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

        • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote April 6, 2019 / 8:28 am

          Aww, thanks. I hope someday we can meet in person!

          I don’t know if you will have time to read this before your talk, but it just occurred to me that if I were in your shoes today, I might want to say something along the lines that of all the traumas that I have gone through, even the most extreme, the one thing that has hurt me the most, by far, was simply knowing that I was not loved and cherished by my own parents/family of origin. A parent can do basically everything “right” in raising a child, but if they are just going through the motions, if genuine love isn’t there, if you sense as a child that your parents wish you had never been born — that, alone, is enough to cause deep, long lasting emotional scars.

          I think most survivors of childhood trauma can relate to that!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Alexis Rose April 6, 2019 / 3:13 pm

            I hope we can meet someday too! The talk went really well. I told the group how I received a very inspiring message this morning which gave me the confidence to share with them today. You made an incredible difference in my life today. ❤️

            Liked by 1 person

  2. hawk2017 April 6, 2019 / 9:40 am

    I do not believe there is or has ever been a functional family since Adam and Eve. What is Normal, a word that is defined by others and not the dictionary. The courage you and Alexis share is splendid and most ‘normal people’ should relate. Love in our Christ Jesus.:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ibikenyc April 6, 2019 / 7:36 pm

    I am so sorry you went through the type and amount of trauma that you did.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lee Poskey April 6, 2019 / 8:25 pm

    God bless you Linda.
    I am grateful for people like you who expose wickedness for what it is.
    And I believe it’s Romans 12 where we’re told to mourn with those who mourn.
    I will pray for you sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Lee/@LadyQuixote April 7, 2019 / 8:07 am

      Thank you, Lee, for your prayers. The Lord has truly healed my brokenness and at this point in my life, I am blessed beyond measure with peace, love, and joy. Writing my memoir isn’t easy, though. But the Lord is giving me strength. If my story can help just one person, it will be worth the pain of writing it.

      I am also benefiting in an unexpected way from writing my memoir — I am understanding what happened, and why, on a level that I could not see before. Hurt people hurt people, and broken people do broken things. But, as I have discovered from my own healing journey, we are never too broken to heal.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Anna Waldherr April 7, 2019 / 12:50 am

    A powerful and moving post. I could not agree w/ you more. Such stories MUST be told. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. luckyotter April 7, 2019 / 10:37 am

    Beautiful post, Linda Lee and Alexis, and also so true.

    I can’t help but think of Joan Crawford and her adopted children, and their picture perfect family life that they created for the cameras so her audience would think nothing was amiss and they were just a happy, normal, loving family, when that was anything but the truth and the two older children, Christina and Christopher, were being horribly abused.

    In such families, telling the truth is the worst infraction a child can commit, and will result in severe punishment or even abandonment. Although my own family wasn’t abusive to the extent of the Crawfords, or your own, it was emotionally abusive and crazymaking. Gaslighting, mocking my concerns, and lying were the manipulation tactics they used, and so I was always confused and didn’t know if I was coming or going. Picking it apart to get to the real truth is hard when you’re the only one who sees/knows the truth. The one time I broke down (at age 12) and told the father of a friend of mine, the father (out of concern, I suppose) talked to my parents about what I had told him. Bad idea. I got the beating of my life and wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone in that family anymore. They didn’t want anyone to know what was really going on at home.

    I remember a nun in 7th grade called me aside one day and asked me if I was being abused at home, and I just lied and told her no. Keeping my mouth shut always seemed like the better idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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