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    BWS Stories - "I Will Survive"...Menopause

    "I Will Survive"...Menopause - Secrets

    Linda O'Connell


    Secrets, naughty or nice, have their own kinetic energy. Much like a bad case of vocal Tourettes, and despite attempts at ardent restraint, the words vigorously burst forth. Like a virus, once a secret is blurted or even whispered, it makes its rounds. Even the Center for Disease Control couldn't track the virulent strain of a secret.

    For the past thirty years, I have been privy to more family secrets than the CIA. One of my preschool students drew a family portrait and dictated a story. By the end of her narrative, I knew which bar her daddy snuck her into, where her mama hid the money so her daddy wouldn't find it, who her teenaged sister sneaked out to see after dark, and what her brother did with the mail that came through the slot in the door.

    Another child shared a significant secret. Her mommy had way too much wine in her belly to ever have enough room to grow a baby brother or sister. Secrets grow in proportion to perception. When I taught a unit on Native Americans, a child couldn't wait to whisper his secret in my ear: "My daddy is a ‘naked American' too."

    Teenagers spread secrets like the common cold. One secret begets another. Teens burn up the phone lines with the precursor to every broken confidence, "Promise you won't tell another soul?"

    Adulthood leads to maturity, but even the most well-intentioned adult can harbor secrets for only a limited amount of time. Like a pair of too tight jeans, they have to let it all hang out sooner or later. How many mothers have said, "Now don't tell your brother or sister..." How many siblings have continued the rivalry and squabbling because of one little secret released in a whispered hush?

    The positive thing about secrets is that one only has to be concerned with keeping or spreading them for about six decades of their lives. After that no amount of coaxing can pry a secret from a senior citizen like myself. It's not so much my moral or ethical compass that guides me. It's simply that once a secret is revealed, the buck stops with me, because I can't remember what the secret was, or even who told me.

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