In a closed Facebook Group, I felt courageous enough or maybe desperate enough to share some of my story. 2018 is about authenticity.
Here's what I said:
"I'm a pretty quiet person. I don't really put my head above the hedge much, so to speak, but in an effort to save my life, I need to speak up.
I grew up in a cult-like religion where we didn't really socialize with anyone outside the organization. We were only allowed to be friends with those in the congregation and the school age kids my age who went there with me were mainly home schooled. I was enrolled in public school. In Kindergarten, I was placed in the "gifted" track and from that point until the 8th grade, I was in class with the same kids and the only student of color. The school district was very self-segregated - still is. My father would go to the school each year to speak with my teachers to let them know I was "different" and not to allow me to participate in any parties, pledge of allegiance or anything holiday related. I was to be sent to the library to read quietly.
We went to what I like to call "programming" meetings at the cult 5 times per week and were made to congregate together, whether you liked it or not. I was molested in that space. I was molested in my home. I told my brother but he didn't believe me, so I tried to make myself as small as I possibly could. I thought - the smaller you are, the more invisible, the more safe.
At home, I was not taught how to care for myself or about important things. We were only taught that the world was in the active process of ending "the last days" and who needs dreams (edit) if the world is ending??? Who needs education? Who needs public service???
I learned only how to survive and only survive. If I didn't know something, I pretended I did. It was safer.
When I learned of Hollins, (had never heard of it until my senior year in high school) had I not qualified for a financial aid package, I don't think I would have left home. I don't think I would have ever gone to college. No one around me did - so why me? But somehow, someway, a girl in one of my HS classes told me about it and asked me if I'd be interested in a prospective weekend. I didn't know what that was and I didn't care. I said yes. I left, put my nose down, tried to absorb as much as I could and have been surviving ever since; making bad decisions all along the way because well, you know, I HAVE NO CLUE! I made it to Europe as an expat and without all the "noise" from the past - I am now able to unpack all that I have been through thus far and my GOD, I am cracking.
Holding it together has gotten increasingly harder and working in anti-terrorism (not my brightest idea...but my heart is in the right place and being the only PERSON of color in leadership and the micro-aggressions that come with that), fighting for custody of my daughter (and realizing the person I thought that had my back actually didn't and never did), mourning 5 miscarried children but never really grieving them, understanding that the people I have surrounded myself with are not my tribe and just feeling desperately alone. My family back home only calls when they need something mainly. I don't blame them. They are doing and did the best that they could with what THEY had.
Recently, I took a chance and went to a Writer's Workshop, as I feel like I need to write. Like write for my life. So, when I saw the name of the group, I just thought type out what you need to, get it off your heart and keep it moving. I'm not looking for a solver. I just needed a safe space to vent. Thank you for this group."