As a child, my older sister and cousin often called me a tattletale. There I was in my plaits with ribbons on the ends of each one and white Ked sneakers, dingy from playing, running through whoever's house I was in to tell on them.
"Ooh I'm tellin'," I'd cover my mouth and yell, always leaving off the end letter g. Whether it was finding out my sister had a crush on a boy, or my cousin said the word, "Dang," which I thought was a curse word, or they kicked me out of their room, I was tellin' my parents or any other adult that was nearby on them.
I'm sure that irritated my sister and cousin to no end. I know it was most likely why they mumbled under their breath and frowned when they had to take me anywhere with them. Thankfully for them (and myself) that tattletale stage in my life was short lived.
When I outgrew my tattletale stage though, it seemed as if I stopped tellin' a lot of things altogether that I shouldn't have. If someone said or did something hurtful, I didn't tell. I didn't speak up for fear others would get upset. I chose silence instead. Even as an adult. Even when I wrote, which has always been my saving grace, I stopped tellin'. I kept those stories locked securely in my head instead of setting them free so they wouldn't lance my spirit.
Now...finally...because I am on a journey of writing without inhibitions, I am reverting back to being a tattletale. I'm showing my nakedness, sharing my beautiful mess; for what lies beneath all of our flawed layers is indeed beautiful. I'm tellin' those stories I've kept close to my bosom that have caused too many sleepless nights.
Recently I wrote an essay about a scar on my body from a surgery I had years ago that I submitted to a literary magazine. Whether or not it gets published, it felt cathartic in my tellin'. I'm embracing this new me, this self liberating/healing attitude of tellin' that has overtaken me. I'm gathering those notebooks in the bottom drawer of my bedroom dresser, where I housed stories I've never finished because my palms grew sweaty and my stomach queasy each time I tried to, and finishing them.
I'm tellin' those stories that are painful, and those stories that may ruffle feathers. I'm tellin' those stories about racism and how it affected me, my loved ones and my community. I'm tellin' those stories that will make readers see a part of themselves, a part they too may have stuffed away or muted, so they can start charting their own self-liberating journey. I'm tellin' more about me so that others can understand a bit more what my world looks like as a black woman.
I'm tellin' to bridge gaps and to connect my words with someone's heart. And no, not all of my stories will be steeped in nothing but melancholy. Many will make you laugh out loud, for some of the stories I stopped tellin' have moments of hilarity scattered throughout them.
So, I hope in whatever genre you write in, you too are in a tattletale mood. I hope you feel like tellin' all those stories that you once had second thoughts about tellin'. I hope you tell the stories that allow readers to sit on the edge of their emotions and see you threadbare so that they want to read more of your work, knowing that if you survived or bounced back, they can also. It's all in our tellin'.
"Im tellin'," and I hope you continue to do so also and give your voice, even the rawest parts of it, wings.
Jeanine DeHoney is a freelance writer who has had her writing published in several anthologies, magazines, and online blogs.