Family trees sure can be complicated. From roots that remain unseen to limbs that twist in unexpected ways, it's not uncommon for surprises and secrets to be nesting in those branches, hidden from view. Family secrets can exist in the present or the past, and often range from mysterious and scandalous to embarrassing and upsetting. They are part of the DNA that make up any family's tree – whether they are ever discovered or acknowledged.
Our first storyteller, Sue Blaustein, learned early on that while her family eagerly embraced some truths, others were unacceptable. As she explained during the “Hidden” StorySlam in October of 2016, she got to hear all the juicy details about her older sister's adjustment to college life – which were of course omitted in letters to their parents. Rather than directly addressing topics like sex and drugs, her mother referenced an inner compass that she was confident would steer Sue in the right direction. While that helped make her self-reliant, it came at a price.
As second storyteller Rochelle Fritsch shared at the Ex Fabula Fellowship event MKE Monumental this past May, having a daughter made her realize the importance of knowing where she came from. She wanted to dig deeper to find the untold stories that she never heard growing up. Rochelle decided to research a relative she overheard her mother and aunt talk about when she was a child. A Google search turned up some unexpected and disturbing results that opened the genealogical and emotional floodgates. Those men experienced a tragedy interwoven into the racial fabric of this country – and it turns out they were more closely related to Rochelle and her daughter than she ever knew.
Listen to Sue and Rochelle's stories here:
LAST CHANCE: Ex Fabula and Sculpture Milwaukee have teamed up to provide special guided storytelling tours! The final two tours, led by Ex Fabula storytellers Elaine Maly and Shawn Mitchell, are this weekend! Visit the Sculpture Milwaukee website or download the app to learn more.