By Carolina Mooney – Author, Bastard Child
All my life I’ve had low self-esteem and tortured relationships with boys. I don’t know my father, which has led me to engage in every form of self-destructive behavior possible. I’ve been promiscuous, constantly cheating on my significant others. I’ve never had a monogamous relationship that lasted longer than six months. Until now.
Last year, my high school English teacher gave me what I thought was yet another standard high school English assignment—a weekend’s worth of work at most.
Boy, was I wrong. This “simple assignment” was to write a non-fictional short story from my life in four days and have it essentially ready to publish in a student story collection by the end of the fourth day.
When I first wrote my piece, I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I participated in a live interview on a local television show with two other authors from our book that I understood the full potential of our publication. We had written a self-help book for others while helping ourselves with our own healing process.
I originally decided to use a fake name for my story because I felt like I could hide behind it. The content of my story was extremely personal and graphic and covered things I didn’t like to talk about with the closest of friends or even think about really. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my past and I felt that if I used a made up name, I wouldn’t have to deal with the reality of the situation. My family knew nothing of the content of my piece other than the obvious part about me not having a father. Even then, they didn’t know to which extent the lack of a father figure had affected me.
When my family ended up reading my story at our book release, party, I felt violated and their reaction made me wish I hadn’t written it. I had told them repeatedly that I didn’t want them to read my piece and that if they did, I would be really angry. But how could I expect them not to? They were proud of me for having something published regardless of the content, and they were curious as to why I didn’t want them to read it.
Although I was initially pissed off that they had read my story, it laid everything out on the table and forced us to talk about issues that really needed to be brought up. In doing so, it has changed my relationship with my family for the better.
While this experience was really difficult and exhausted me emotionally, if I ever had the chance to do something like this again, I definitely would. It was a great learning opportunity and I know that it has helped me immensely. I now realize that I need to own up to my past —that my past has made me who I am. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and since my secret is out, I no longer need to hide behind a pen name.
It’s my hope that my story can continue to help others.