Talking about it is hard.
Whenever you make new friends there inevitably comes that moment where you have to tell them.
Maybe not right away, maybe its like a few months in.
But eventually you have to say yeah… my childhood wasn’t actually perfect.
“they were really religious… they homeschooled me k-12.” But you seem so normal!
“yeah I have 10 siblings.. no we’re not catholic…” I could never do that! Your mum must be a saint!
“no I will never have that many kids. No I don’t plan to homeschool. No it wasn’t a good experience.”
You sit there feeling like a freak show. Everybody’s gawking because they’ve never even heard of such things. Surely you must be exaggerating?! But in reality you’re dumbing it down, polishing the edges.
And in the back of your mind is the old family mantra hissing “You are so selfish. Telling tales for attention. People are going to think bad things about the family! Where is your loyalty?!”
They all shake their heads in wonderment. Courtship? Isn’t that another word for dating? You are monopolizing the conversation now. But they won’t let you stop. They have so many questions. You’re like a space alien telling stories about your exotic and barbaric planet.
You mentally sweep the years of violence and neglect and manipulation into a neat little dustpan and name it: “It wasn’t really a healthy environment.” And people infer what they want, and you move on. And eventually someone changes the subject and you sit there feeling embarrassed.
You wonder if your cheeks have turned red. Did you say too much? “You always say too much!” You smile and engage in the rest of the conversation. And then you go home and aggressively wash the dishes, fighting back your rising anxiety.
Eventually you find yourself in bed with a pillow over your face.
Trying to slow your breathing. Trying to fall asleep.
Its been ages. It should be so hard to talk about.