Having a secret is as uncomfortable for me as a panty wedge. It alters my body movements, causes me to glance sideways constantly and seek out dark corners to back into.
My acting skills are roughly on par with the kids in the Barney videos. When combined with my inherited Catholic conscience, I have an amazing ability to physically display the possession of a secret.
I slump and slink in a way that causes mall cops to follow me for hours. They can see I look guilty and since I usually carry an oversize bag, clearly I could be swiping designer jeans or small appliances at any opportunity.
Naturally mall security would assume that taking twenty minutes to decipher all the choices of K-cups in Bed Bath and Beyond is a cover for sizing up the expensive knife sets across the aisle. No one could take that long to choose between medium roast and decaf. Obviously I’m up to something.
I know I am being watched and want so much to wave the mall cop over and explain, “Hey I’ve recently given up drinking and the evenings at home are a bitch. Do you think a dark roast would keep me up at night or should I just go decaf and maybe splash in a little flavoured syrup? Also I’m finding the detox headaches in the morning a bit much and caffeine helps. Lighter roast has more caffeine but I really prefer the taste of medium roast. Hey, did you know Safeway has a really great fat free cream?”
Much as I know this conversation would end the mall stalking and possibly even kindle a new friendship, I sigh and resign myself to being tailed all the way to my car. I’m not telling this guy my secret any more than I’m telling the rest of the world.
I did, however, finally tell my husband. It was a relief to me, and his kindness and support make me love him even more. We are one of those couples who dated in high school and managed to have a long happy marriage in spite of ourselves. I think one of the challenges for couples that start their lives together at a young age is that life’s changes can cause them to grow in opposite directions. We have made a conscious effort to grow together, but each change brings challenges. New directions we take as individuals must be discussed and decided as a couple, and sometimes this means compromise.
In typical “man” mode, sharing a problem with my husband always means getting his specific solutions. You should just…. This is a common male/female communication challenge – women want to explore feelings and be heard; men want to find a solution and act on it.
I might say, “Uck. I am having a fat day.” This should be the cue for him to rub my back and tell me I am beautiful. Instead I hear, “You should just watch your portion control” or may favourite: “You should just buy bigger pants.”
So for years, when I’ve half-heartedly said “I should really quit drinking,” his suggestions have been “You should just drink on weekends” or “You should just have red wine on occasion because it is still good for you,” or even just “You should.”
All of these are perfectly good and valid answers. Most folks can drink on weekends or special occasions. Most folks can manage a healthy amount of red wine. Most folks could just quit.
As I’ve said in other posts, you can’t ask for viable solutions if you aren’t honest about the problem. And since I wasn’t prepared to admit the seriousness of my situation to anyone but myself, my God, and the kind readers of my anonymous posts it really wasn’t fair to expect a useful conversation.
Ten days into my new life, I opened up over a bowl of WonTon soup and shared the essence of the story. It wasn’t exactly a heart to heart. More like letting out blobs of truth in spurts, the way a repelling rock climber is issued line from a spotter below. A bit more. A bit more. Until there it was, and here it is, and here we are.
Unburdened of my secret, I feel myself standing straighter and breathing normally. It’s such a relief to be my whole self with the most important person in my life. I can’t imagine telling others, but last week I couldn’t imagine telling anyone at all.
It can only get better from here.