Since my first major manic episode which catalytically caused me to blow up my life, I feel like all of my respectable actions need an asterisk.
If someone meets me in a capacity in which I’m affluent, I feel compelled by my truth-telling self to explain.
“I’m fine right now, but you should have seen me two years ago. Let me tell you about how epically I derailed the train.”
“At one point I got so sick of listening to myself drone on to other women about little league and countertops and how fine I was, that I decided to kill my public self. …I told [my husband] I was going to start introducing my secret self to other moms at the playground and the mall.”
Melton’s secret self includes, in her words, that she is “a recovering, well, everything, and most recently [she’s] been struggling with isolation and intimacy with [her] husband and [she’s] also been getting quite angry with [her] kids for no reason.”
Although Melton wanted to use this method as a way to cut corners to intimacy and new friendship, her sister talked her out of it.
“But I still think it’s vital for a girl to share her truthful, secret self somewhere,” Melton wrote. “In order to avoid going a little batty, she must have a place to say the things she is actually thinking…She must be taught that, in fact, some people will want and need to hear about her secret self as badly as they need to inhale.”
Birthmothers are expected by society to be invisible. “Adoption is beautiful,” after all. No one wants to hear about the dark side.
As Melton describes, though, the darkness must be spoken somewhere. She suggests sharing strategically, “perhaps through art, which God offers as a safe way to express joy and madness. And she’ll need a trusted person to help her find her medium, so she won’t feel she has to hide or hold her breath any longer. Because when she exhales, she’ll discover that she’s created the space to inhale again, and that will keep her going.”
When I feel the itch to explain away my good deeds, I think I am really just looking for a place to exhale. As Melton wrote, I’ve been holding my breath too long.
While I think it’s important as a birthmother to guard myself against hurtful people, I think it’s just as important to not always be invisible — preferably in a safe space.
Do you ever feel compelled to minimize your accomplishments? How do you express your secret self? Leave a reply in the comment box below; please be familiar with the comment policy.