I remember waiting to tell my Mom I was pregnant with Wil. It was a bittersweet secret.
On one hand, I was very excited and happy. In all my life, all those years growing up, I changed my mind about all sorts of things - what colour my hair should be, what style of clothes I should wear, what I should do for a living. The only thing that ever remained 100% the same was that I knew I wanted to be a Mom one day. Wil was not a planned baby - I don't think anyone was more shocked than I was. And once the shock wore off and I knew I was going to be "Mom," I was elated.
On the other hand, I knew I would face my mother's disappointment. She always figured me for a bad seed and wondered not if, but how and when I would screw up. This doesn't make her a bad Mom - she just had me pegged for the hard-knock life, and she was right. I am headstrong and stubborn, traits I can thank her side of the family for, which not only made us a force to be reckoned with, a troop of really strong, independent women, but a really difficult, pigheaded bunch to work with. It has been both a curse and a blessing for all of us. So it took me a few weeks to work up to telling her. I had myself wrung up in knots over telling her. When I told her, she had her mind made up that I had finally done the big screw up by getting myself knocked up, and we thought we were done for.
~I vaguely remember the chair coming at me. I remember a lot of tears, and after he yelling and name calling ended, an eery sense of calm and purpose. I had just told the Orange Fairy I was moving out after coming back from working Spring Break. She was livid. I was determined. I had a job, an apartment, a roomie, and a friend with a truck to help me take my meager belongings with me. When I returned home on that Friday afternoon, my Mom had packed for me. Everything I owned was sitting in the middle of the living room ready to go. In silence we loaded up the truck, and off I went.
I was an honours student. Unlike my sister, I didn't have to work at it very hard. I didn't need to study. I could whip out an essay worth 80% or better in under an hour. Math was a cakewalk. Chemistry was like a second language. Despite a textbook understanding of copulation, I still didn't know the mechanics of sex. (Honestly, I didn't lol - a little slow on the uptake there...) I would sooner cut my own limbs off than touch drugs. I smoked to be social with my friends, and might have a sip or two from someone's cooler, but having an alcoholic father and seeing how ridiculous my sister and her friends looked while they were drunk ruined any pleasure I might have derived from being a typical liquor-dabbling teenager.
My mother knew I was hiding something, though. She came to all the 'natural' conclusions. I was cheating in school. I was doing drugs. I was drinking. I was sleeping around. When she came up empty-handed on all those fronts, she was at a complete loss, and we could just never manage to see eye to eye on anything. It was like living with the Gestapo. Her: "Where were you?" Me: "Bowling." Her: "Liar!"
What she didn't know, what my friends didn't know, what NOBODY knew was that by the time I left home I had 2 solid years of experience at hiding my bulimia. I had it down to an artform. A science. It was all-consuming. I wasn't tired because I was partying or hungover (thought we did do a lot of late-night bowling... lol) I wasn't sleeping around. I was too shy to ever tell anyone I had a crush on them. Not to mention it would be harder to hide the real problem. Of course I was exhausted. Of course I acted suspiciously. I was bulimic. I spent all my time and money bingeing and purging. I was malnutritioned, and obsessed. My entire life revolved around getting money to buy food, scheduling time alone to eat and get rid of the food, and figuring out ways to make excuses for why I was being so weird. Really, it was a full time job hiding it from everyone. When I finally did get a boyfriend, in retrospect it was easy to see how his misplaced mistrust could have been exacerbated my my secretive and often suspicious behaviour... I was, after all, having an affair with Mr. Christie. He made good cookies.~
It's been almost two decades since I moved out. I never once looked back - my pride (read: pigheadedness) wouldn't let me. Those first 5 years we barely spoke. We've hit some rough spots over the years, but in the last couple of years we've finally gotten to a point where I consider my mom a friend, if not a role model. (She makes MY brand of stubborn look like child's play lol) We're learning to trust each other again, and she's just recently come to understand what was actually going on for me during those tumultuous years. The bullying, the sexual harassment, the bulimia. I think she finally believes me about the late-night bowling.
The cycle continued until I found out I was pregnant with Wil. Yes, an unplanned pregnancy might have destroyed my life. But instead, it healed us. All of the sudden there was something bigger and more important than all of us. After a heated exchange when I made the announcement, my Mom hung up on me. "I have things to do," she said. Fine. Whatever. I figured it'd be weeks if not months before we spoke again, not an uncommon thing for us back then. I imagine she had a good cry. On her way to the drug store. Where she bought Tylenol. And baby socks and a pack of bottles. As I always say, perspective is everything.
Secrets can destroy your life. This secret cost me many years of being friends with my mother. It stopped me from being able to make true friendships. It barred me from having normal relationships. I will not let it rule my life again. So, I came clean. And it's both terrifying and a relief, especially since I talked to my amazing husband. (He was clueless, just like all of you were - I'm good lol). So now the road to recovery lays ahead. I'm not naive enough to think it's going to be an easy road. I see lots of forks and some pretty thorny dark passages ahead. But somewhere, way off in the distance, is sunlight. One step at a time, I'll get there. Today I just feel broken.
Got a confession to make? Go over to the Booth and get it off your chest. In the meantime, what's the worst secret you hid from your parents when you were a teenager?