Fam­ily Se­crets


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.

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