I’ve shared my family secrets in journals and dark cafes, in psychoanalysis, and finally in verse. Until I discovered I could write about growing up with narcissists, I didn’t actually know if some of the more ludicrous events of my childhood had really happened. To me, nothing is brighter than the black and white of the printed page. Writing truly saved my life, my sanity, and my sense of self by allowing me to turn off the gaslights and stand in a pool of truth-light.
In this issue, we invite writers to spill their family secrets. Some writers, like me, question the truth or seek reality checks. Scaachi Koul discusses a period of estrangement from her father during the writing of her memoir: “I can say that I wrote honestly. But is it the truth? Depends on who you ask, I think.” Colleen Baran imagines a family secrets game show: “I’ll take ‘Pretend it Never Happened’ for $500.”
Some writers in these pages share dark and deeply painful truths, #MeToo stories that reveal the abuse women and nonbinary people endure from those who are supposed to cherish them. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s “Shark’s Mouth” gut-punches with its opening line: “My mom started raping me as a baby.”
Beyond being a touchstone of reality, writing is an act of hope and healing. Later in the issue, Piepzna-Samarasinha’s “bed days” empathizes with a mother who had only “wine, silence, and a garden.” Our commissioned author, Maggie de Vries, delivers hope in “Morgan’s Story”, where her protagonist learns to take up her own space in a family that turns her body into a problem.
And then there are the family secrets that come delightfully, with a tinge of sadness for time lost. Deanna Partridge-David writes in “Lost and Found” that it has “taken a decade, but there are little patches of green on the tips of branches.”
I wish for you, dear reader, the light of truth and green on the tips of your branches.