Every family has secrets. I am sure many would agree with me. But would you share yours with me? Some say I spilled my family’s best secret in my new book. But did I?
“Seriously, Anita, how can I have a husband who is ‘touching’ my child and I would say or do nothing about it? Tell me, how is that possible?” My friend asked me. I admire the passion with which she was arguing her case. We were discussing an occurrence about the news of a man who was caught raping his daughter but the wife did nothing, even though she knew. This mother kept it a secret because she did not want to deal with the shame of the situation. My friend could not fathom it, but I could. She was mad at me for trying to “see reasons why the mother would choose inaction on such injustice against her own daughter”. It was their family’s best kept secret, well until at that time the news broke and the man was caught.
There was a struggle within me on whether or not to tell her- this was one of my own family’s best kept secrets- here I was tempted to spill. So many thoughts ran through my mind:
“But I would bring shame to my family name”
“People might think I had such bad parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles”.
Oh and there was that thing my family told me once- “sharing about such taboo only reflects badly on you. No one would believe you, and no man will marry you. Share at your own peril”.
As the different thoughts went through my mind, I lost the urge to further educate this friend of mine. And maybe they were right, no one would love me or accept me after hearing all that ‘secret’. “Whatever! The poor child is now safe from her father”, I said to my friend. That was my cop out from spilling my family’s best kept secret until….
…...Reve-Healed. Right! My book. I have been asked if the book was about spilling my family’s best secret? Or outing them and others involved in my experiences with child sexual abuse. Fair question, and I thought about it while writing the book. The shortest, simple and succinct response is NO. As a matter of fact, it is NOT about them any of them. If I had my way, I would rather not spill my family’s secret, but if there is one conclusion I have arrived at, it is that MY LIFE AND EXPEREINCES IS BIGGER THAN ME. Someone with similar experiences to mine spilled her family’s secret, and that was a moment of hope for me. My book is about paying that courageous kindness forward, who knows who my story would help?
On a final note, I should say this- the years I stayed silent, was not to make my family feel better. In the same vein, now that I speak (and loudly so), it is not about making anyone feel bad either. Again, I really wish I did not have to spill my family’s secret, but the conversation of sexual violence and other forms of trauma is much bigger than me or my family- think about the lives OUR FAMILY’s story can save.
PS: have you read Reve-Healed? What do you think the ‘biggest secret’ is? If you haven’t read it, can you guess? GRAB YOUR COPIESSSSSSSS…. Seriously No one should buy just one copy.