Philly and the Single Lesbian

Kicking secrets of abuse to the curb. By Crystal Fox

So I had brunch with my girls on my day off this past Tuesday, which I am now referring to as “FDB” (Full Disclosure Brunch) of the Oprah Winfrey variety. It was deep.

See, in my friend’s circle, I am notoriously known for not keeping my mouth shut, sometimes putting my foot in it, and being a little “too” free with details. But my thought on disclosures is such: If you are the one talking, so much for gossip.

So I try, for the most part, to live my life like an open book with no secrets. But it wasn’t until brunch with my girls that it really dawned on me why I live this way. It has nothing to do with gossip and other random theories I like to pontificate about over Eggs Benedict. It has to do with me and how I was raised.

I grew up in a house full of secrets. Some so intense that even close relatives would be shocked and stunned to hear them. My house consisted of me, my mother and father. Insular. Chaotic. It is my belief that my father liked it that way. It was better to control, and control he did. Growing up in a physically abusive household, one learns survival quickly. You learn all too early about negotiation, distorted views of love – and most of all – the importance of secrets.

In my earliest childhood memories, my mother was physically abused. I’m not talking about seeing my father get so heated that he smacked her once or twice (which is also horrific). I am talking about hardcore physical abuse. Faces bloodied. Teeth lost. Heads cut open. Me sitting in the backseat of the car watching my mother get pounded repeatedly for “not knowing when to keep her mouth shut.”

There were fights down the stairs, where at age eight, I was trapped in the middle trying everything to break up what was happening – usually without success.

I hated my father for how he was (and is?). I also hated my mother for “allowing” this to happen. Why wasn’t she stronger? Why didn’t she break away? How can she let us live like this?

But how did I have the nerve to blame her for anything after what she had endured? Maybe love is truly blind.

I know (that by admitting this) people will ask if I am “scared” that I will turn out like my father. My answer is always no. I never want to be a victim. I will never be victim of my father’s abusive fate. I will never be victim of my mother’s fate as someone abused. I will also never play victim to the ultimate betrayal by my parents: their abandonment.

Instead, I will take this break from my parents as a new beginning for me, and chance to create my own path, while still recognizing these family secrets I keep daily.

One thing that isn’t a secret? One day I will find love that is real, safe, and mutual.

Crystal Fox is a chef in Philadelphia who’s dating again. Will she find love? Stay tuned!