I’m known for having fifteen brothers and sisters, narcissistic parents, an upbringing in a house of chaos, and an education rooted in fundamentalist religion. No, I’m not the only one. No, I’m not from the Duggar family on TV, but I have been on The Learning Channel and a few other spotlights.
One by one, my parents have kicked out all of their adult daughters, and have lived in quiet denial of my story. Their aim was to have as many children as possible, so that those children would participate in dreaming up a reality of their own making. It was a dream house, with no reality but what our parents wanted us to believe.
My oh-so-perfect family had hidden a life of misery under my very nose and commanded me to pretend that I was happy, and I obeyed. Recovering from the gaslighting was like waking up. So I’ve decided to go with the title “Music in the Dream House.”
The thought process behind this is several years in the making. Notably, the Duggar sisters wrote a book called “Growing Up Duggar” since I announced my tentative book title. I didn’t want my story to simply be a reference to another large family.
People want to hear a success story, a win for the underdog, and about triumphing over circumstances. My tone has always been a little different. See, I haven’t escaped. The nightmares haunt me to this day. My lack of education directly impacts my financial stability, which is why I live on about $12,000 per year. The outside world that I escaped to when I fled from my family feels like a much bigger cage. My understanding of what it’s like to start seeing through the cracks has made me incredibly skeptical. So Music in the Dream House will include quite of bit of discussion about science, psychology, education, and infrastructure gridlock.
I’ve also been reading a lot of memoirs, and noting that my story is far more universal than just being in a big family. This year I finished “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” by Sue Monk Kidd, and both impacted me deeply. I loved singing and dancing in the title of these books, because it gave them an ethereal sense of stepping into a world of visceral feeling.
The themes in these books were also far broader than merely writing an expose about abuse and cult-like lifestyles. They encouraged me to sense that while my story has many unique details, my experience is not a spectacle, but a perspective on common experiences. Coming to terms with our childhoods and culture, religion and emotional development, relationships and illnesses – all of these are subjects I hope to treat with care in my book.
I’ve always written with descriptors from the music that has shaped my life. And I’ve always been a dreamer, and my siblings were dreamers, so the illusory nature of our reality in a world of sheltered gaslighting is naturally described as a dream. My parents’ book was titled “Love in the House,” which was a far-off dream compared to our reality. So I call it the dream house.
Writing this book has been slow. My draft document, with an innumerable amount of notes gathered as I think of them, is over 42,000 words of JUST NOTES. They aren’t complete sentences or stories. I had to make peace with the idea that it will not be a quick read. There is simply too much to tell. So far, the book has been an emotionally draining process, but rewarding in my trauma recovery. I’ve also found countless subjects that can’t be covered in a memoir and keep a constant flow, so I’ve been saving those notes for later projects.
If you’d like to support me in writing Music in the Dream House, you can find more details on my Patreon page.