Over lunch yesterday, my in-laws were asking about my book (since I got outed last week). And as I explained to them my project, My MIL, asked “Will you tell your story?”
Answer: Yes, probably.
The follow-up question from FIL was, “Will you use your own name?”
These are actually both difficult questions to answer, and I’ve been grappling with them and have thus tabled them for later. (Because we all know difficult things get easier later, right?)
I expect to share my story; I always have intended to eventually. But it’s not an easy story to tell—if I tell it all. But it’s no more difficult than the stories of the people I’m interviewing. And if they can do it, so can I. And I’ll do it for the same reason they’ve agreed to: If my story can help encourage, motivate, or in some way inspire one person, it’s worth it.
As for using my own name, there are a couple of problems I can foresee: 1) the people involved in my story and 2) my career. The people who are a part of my story are still alive and kicking somewhere. And they’re the kind of people who wouldn’t appreciate me revealing things that were kept secret for so long. Not only would they deny the roles they played, but also they’re the kind of people who would find a way to exact revenge. And they’re the kind of people who know how to inflict pain—emotional, psychological, physical (It’s why I cut such people out of my life). So it’s a big risk to use my name (I’m actually a little afraid there might be reprecussions from this post–although I’m not yet naming names).
My career: my career is currently in flux (but that’s another post entirely). But there are aspects to my story that, if shared, would open me up to workplace discrimination that could stall out my career (if that’s not what already happened). I could find my professional success in jeopardy. There are other parts of my story to which a huge stigma is attached and there are parts of which I am not proud—parts that are embarrassing at best and devastating at worst.
It’s not like I haven’t told parts of my story before. But I usually stick to the ones that, in retrospect, are humorous. Removed from the situation by years, I can laugh at such stories, and sometimes I can even be thankful for the valuable lessons they taught me—being homeless for 3 months, discovering an empty bank account, having my identity stolen. (Those don’t sound funny? Clearly, you haven’t heard me tell them.)
But there are lots of unfunny parts, too—parts that no matter how much time passes will never be humorous and from which I will never fully recover. When the past is ugly, it’s hard to turn around and look back at it. But it’s also incredibly important because the past shapes the present—and the future. I am who I am today because of my past. Unlike many people in similar situations, I found my way. I learned many valuable lessons—about myself, about life—along the way. And that’s why it’s important to share my story—it’s why it’s important we all do.