Friday, May 18, 2018

Five Minute Friday: SECRET


Today I'm joining the Five Minute Friday linkup, where we write for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word is SECRET.



Last week I watched the movie The Glass Castle, based on the best-selling memoir by Jeannette Walls, which I'd read a few years earlier. 

Walls' father was a charismatic, alcoholic dreamer with a cruel streak, and her mother was a self-absorbed amateur artist; the family moved ("skedaddled," as the father put it) constantly, often living in deprivation and squalor, until the children were, one by one, able to escape and move to New York City.

The movie was very good. Although it romanticized the father a bit and gave the abusive aspects of both parents less weight than they probably deserved, it showed the lifelong impact of family secrets.

In one scene late in the movie, adult Jeannette, who has established a career as a successful journalist, is at a restaurant with her wealthy husband and a kind older couple with whom the husband hopes to land a work contract. Jeannette has worked to keep her parents and their problems in a secret compartment of her life, and her husband (who calls her parents "insane") supports her in this -- but she is finding it harder and harder to do so. When the older couple ask about her father, Jeannette's husband cuts in, telling the lie the two of them usually tell: that Jeannette's father is "developing a technology to burn low-grade bituminous coal more efficiently." 

Jeannette excuses herself to go the bathroom, and when she returns she tells the older couple the truth: 

"My parents are squatting in an abandoned building on the Lower East Side. They were homeless for three years before that, which is pretty much how they raised us. My dad is not developing a technology for bituminous coal, but he could tell you anything that you want to know about it. He is the smartest man that I know. He is also a drunk, never finishes what he starts, and can be extremely cruel. But he dreams bigger than anyone I've ever met. And he never tries to be somebody that he's not. And he never wanted me to, either."



This admission changes the direction of Jeannette's life. She leaves her husband and the wealthy lifestyle she's been accustomed to and embraces a simpler life more in tune with the kind of person she has always been. She takes her secrets out of the compartment she's placed them in, and is then better able to integrate the good and terrible aspects of her past. She is also able to make some kind of peace with her parents, knowing she can't change them.

There's a saying that "we are only as sick as our secrets." I take this to mean that healing and growth can only happen when we are honest and stop hiding the parts of our selves or our past that cause us shame. As another of my favourite quotes (this one from Dr. Henry Cloud) says, "The truth is always your friend." 


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10 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever read this book or saw the movie. And yes truth is our friend. I'm in the 4 spot this week.

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    1. I would definitely recommend you read the book whether or not you see the movie. It's SO interesting. If it were a novel you'd say it's just too over the top to be believable. But it's real life.

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  2. I too enjoyed the book and the movie but I was also blessed to hear Jeanette speak at a teacher’s conference I attended. Her insights helped me begin to understand some of the secrets associated with children of poverty. She was a compassionate and enthralling speaker. Have you read her other book? “Half Broke Horses” or something like that is the title.

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    1. Yes, I have read it, Cindy - it was fascinating. I would have loved to hear her speak. It just shows how her experience was able to shape her in a way that could really benefit others.

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  3. Interesting! And it could have been my 'family', though the man who was married to my biological mother (he wasn't my father) was able to achieve a large measure of financial success...which may have increased his cruelty.

    I just don't think about those years.

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    1. Well, that's understandable. Everyone has to find their own way to deal with their "stuff."

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  4. It is hard to open the door to our shame closet, and we should use discernment when we do. But the quote by Dr. Cloud is perfect - Truth is always your friend. Yes, and amen! We should always be open and honest with God.
    I'm in the #59 spot this week. God bless!

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    1. That's a good point about using discernment. And maybe we even need professional support of some kind to do it. But I think God is always about truth. Thanks for reading and commenting, Vicki.

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  5. I'm interested in reading this story- never heard of it. So much truth and insight here. It takes courage to leave such a life- but doing so meant authenticity and truth. That inspires me.
    This struck me: "we are only as sick as our secrets." I'm going to be sitting with that for a while. It's true but I've never heard it expressed like that.
    A post I needed to see.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Prasanta. I would highly recommend the book, in particular, as well as the movie. It is SO interesting.

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