I’m sure the very title of this post sends my family in a panic. Not to worry, I am not going to divulge any of our family’s secrets. Every family has them, right? I remember when I was little, I had to do a family tree assignment. I wanted to interview my Nana but she said to interview my dad’s side because there was “bad blood” on her side. Little pieces of a story has been told throughout the years. It is not my story to tell so I’ll only say that there was mention of a well known mobster being smitten with my Nana’s mother. I love to listen to stories from my parents and my grandpa about when they grew up. They are either really good at hiding them or there really aren’t any family secrets for them to tell.
Since I have this blog, you wouldn’t think I have any secrets but I do. Let me explain. You all know, because you read this, that my boys battle Cystic Fibrosis (hate, hate, hate) but when I just meet someone, they don’t know. I’m pretty sure that only 3 or 4 families on Tommy’s baseball team know. Not everyone on Nico’s baseball, basketball or football team know. People we meet for the first time may or may not know depending on if the person that introduced us to them told them. If someone asks me or it comes up, I don’t deny it but I don’t offer it up either. Is it a secret? Yes, because I want to hold onto them not knowing for as long as I can. I WANT it to stay hidden. Some wear what they battle as a badge of honor and that is great. It works for them. We’ve just never been that way. They don’t want to be known for it. THEY want it to stay hidden. If we had to explain to every person we met that the boys live with a chronic condition, we’d walk around in a constant state of fear because just talking about it brings that up.
Sometimes Rocco feels like a secret. People ask me how many kids I have and I answer four. It would be too complicated to explain Rocco to people which lends itself to horrible guilt for not always acknowledging him. I can talk about him without falling to pieces but to tell his story brings me back to a dark place.
Some secrets are just for me. Wait…is sneaking in a shirt to buy at Target with the groceries a secret? Is not telling him I got a sitter so I could have some free time at Barnes and Noble a secret? Secrets that are just for me aren’t as heavy as the ones I keep for my family.
The amount of energy it takes to keep a secret is exhausting. I sometimes wonder if that is why I am tired all the time. It takes a lot of effort to keep the secret hidden. It’s not just the actual disease. It’s embarrassing side effects from the many meds they take. I want to stress that I am not in denial. For the most part, I live with a dark cloud over my head that swoops in with reminders all the time. But the times I choose to keep it a secret, it moves the cloud away temporarily and I can pretend that we are just like everyone else. I can pretend that CF isn’t a part of our lives. Again, if it comes up, I will tell the truth. I won’t hide it anymore because that would be wrong. To lie about it would be wrong.
The people that know the secret…what do they think? Do they judge? Do they tell everyone they know? “Oh, you know them? They are the ones whose two boys have CF.” Do they…do they feel sorry for us?? That thought makes me sad because we are so much more than that. The boys are so much more. A few years ago, we had a big party to raise money and collect gifts for our big fundraiser. Friends of ours threw the party and the support from the community was OFF THE CHARTS. It was very touching to see so many people care enough to come and donate. At one point, though…I had the thought of “Everyone is going to know. Everyone knows now.” I wish I could be one of those people that when the truth comes out, it’s liberating but it was more terrifying. The reason is simple: I do NOT want people to see the disease before seeing my sons for who they are. I want people to get to know them before they find out what they battle and then be shocked at their strength and ability to overcome anything.
There is a trust factor in people knowing your secret. It is simply know it, support me or my kids and keep the secret. It’s not yours to tell. What’s the old adage? Once you tell a secret, it’s not a secret anymore. I hope that isn’t true because there are several people that know a lot of mine and I trust they are in their vault. Revealing a secret is a relationship changer. I once told someone that meant the world to me something that I didn’t want anyone else to know and she told people. We were never the same after that.
Is living with CF our only secret? Nope. Will I tell any of our other secrets? Not today. I’ll go on being mentally tired from keeping them. I’ll go on praying that no one finds out. Are they that big? Not really and some might even say, “What’s the big deal?” That’s the thing about secrets…when they are yours, they are a big deal otherwise you wouldn’t spend so much time keeping them.
So I told you one of mine, who’s brave enough to tell me one of theirs?
Linking up with Shell again: