People often assume that because I write every day in public for an audience that speaking my mind is really natural to me. That it’s something I’ve always done easily. And that I was supported for it when I was younger.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, I was silenced growing up. Not only was the pressure from my parents immense to never say anything about myself that could embarrass the family, let alone air our dirty laundry — it also went much further than that. I wasn’t allowed to privately express myself if it wasn’t something my mother approved of. She’d routinely search my room for private writings and punish me for what she found in them.
It was a difficult state of affairs. Immensely painful. I turned to writing in code and various other methods of trying to eke out some private space to express myself, so I didn’t explode.
Because very little of what I actually was, who I naturally am, met with my mother’s approval.
The Secret That Could Have Been Shared
In my line of work, I hear from a lot of folks that say they’d love to write in public like I do, but they couldn’t. They’d risk offending people. And particularly those closest to them — as it’s difficult, verging on impossible, to write about one’s life without writing about the people closest to you. That they feel tasked with keeping painful secrets about their own life not because it’s what they would choose to do but because someone else would feel hurt if they shared them.
And I’ve been there myself. Once upon a time, I was married to a guy who was terrified to tell his parents we were polyamorous. This was curious to me because his parents were so incredibly accepting of him in general. And he had a good relationship with them.
Meanwhile, I’d already told my own highly critical parents I was estranged from about my queerness. And later that I was non-monogamous. (So they wouldn’t be blindsided by rumors and secondhand reports.)
But my ex-husband couldn’t bring himself to be open with his own parents. So I kept quiet about it around them, even though it felt incredibly weird not to tell my in-laws what was going on. It wasn’t too bad at first, but it got particularly weird as the number of things that had to be omitted piled up.
Come to find out, years later, after we broke up, my ex-husband’s parents came out as polyamorous themselves. Yes, really. His parents were in a triad with someone else.
It was a good lesson to me that it’s easy to build things up and catastrophize and worry about things that may not be a big deal at all.
And yet people are prone to doing it.
Being Encouraged to Speak My Truth Is Such a Deep Form of Love
It goes without saying that Poly Land as it is would never exist, could never exist, if I were still married to someone who was unwilling to let me be completely open about what I share. (Not why we broke up, but it’s true.)
And every day, I’m grateful for something I don’t talk about much: Nowadays I don’t worry about what my partners will think when I sit down to write.
And there’s a simple reason. It’s not because I’m heartless. It’s because they told me to speak my truth. To never worry about it.
And that it’s especially important because I was censored and silenced so much as a kid.
I have to say… that’s one of the most loving things they ever could have done. Truly. Being encouraged to speak my truth — regardless of what that looks like, even if it involves them — is such a deep form of love. And I’m so grateful for it every time I sit down to write.