Ancestors of not doing your dirty laundry in public.
Ancestors of lying about where the bruises came from.
It isn’t nice to talk about that. It isn’t polite. It isn’t appropriate. Don’t mention it.
The ancestors who said ‘what will the neighbours think’ and felt it was more important to put on a good show for strangers, than to deal with problems.
Ancestors of keeping up appearances, too proud to ask for help.
It is better to fail and suffer privately than to let anyone know you are struggling. You make sure your hungry child looks clean and tidy, and is polite.
The ancestors who said keeping up appearances meant not speaking about what was done to you. The parents and grandparents of other people’s silence.
Don’t bring shame on us. Don’t embarrass us.
The ancestors for whom the abuse of a female body was a source of shame, not of anger. And you wouldn’t draw attention for fear of hurting the girl’s chances of marriage, and you’d never talk or deal with what had happened that hurt the girl.
Ancestors of not rocking the boat and not making a fuss.
Ancestors of this is not for the likes of us, know your place and be quiet.
We do it my way, because I said so. It was good enough for my family. It’s good enough for you.
Ancestors of do not draw attention to yourself and do not ask for more than you are given.
We don’t talk about nasty body things, or sex, or disease, or pregnancy. We are the ancestors of having no words for these things that are good, or kind, or helpful.
Ancestral stories aren’t always made of large, easy to spot drama. Often the most dangerous things are the things we were not allowed to talk about. We pass on stories about the stories we are not allowed to tell. Sometimes the encouragement to silence is subtle. Sometimes it is brutal, loud, and either way it is destructive. Breaking the silence is never easy, but is often vital.