Family Secrets

There are things we do not discuss openly in every family I’m part of. Things that have happened, things that have been done, things that are going on now. There are whispers, meant to be confidential, then more whispers, until the whispers become sighs we all perceive but never mention out loud.

We hide things, because we fear the repercussions of revealing our secrets. Someone might be hurt. Someone might be exposed. Relationships might break down. We drift past each other in silence, too afraid to open our mouths, not wanting to cause pain. We cannot say what we actually feel, what we really mean, so we say less and less of any consequence to each other. We talk about how the job is going, what we watched on TV, how hot it’s been this year. We avoid words like angry, hurt, lonely, lost, afraid. We learn which questions never to ask.

The mention of a specific person can cause pain. The one in jail. The one who left. The one who died. The one who is sick now. A person becomes a secret. The utterance of a certain name carries shame.

The secret child who was given away. That’s me. I was that secret, and I am a secret now. Continue reading “Family Secrets”


The world is crazy right now, I think. Then I remember that the world is always crazy. There is always danger. There is always injustice. I long to live in a world where these things don’t exist, where there is no trauma to recover from, no pain.

Pain begets pain. Once upon a time one person hurt another person, and that person–knowing no better or wanting to avenge his pain–in turn hurt someone else. And so on. And so on. The only way out is to simply stop. Lay down weapons. Lay down pride and pain. Choose to carry only love. Choose to hurt no one.

But. In this world we’ve made, which we inherited from those who made it before us, we understand that human beings, at root, are mere animals, slaves to the instinct of self-preservation, slaves to fear. How wonderful it would be to never fear again.

How unrealistic. Fear will come, and the best we can do is to gulp it down and continue loving.

Some days I have to look away from the craziness of the world. I focus on trees with their leaves sprouting or swaying or sashaying softly to the ground. I focus on the eyes of my dog trusting me. I focus on the arms that wrap around me in the morning and at night.

Today the sun rose, and I felt its heat on my skin. Today I am able to choose to look away from the crazy.

This too, I know, is animal instinct. This is saving my self.