Jan 192012
 

 

A few years ago strange things started happening to me at church. I’d find myself in the middle of a lighthearted conversation with a woman I’d just met, and the woman would make a joke that didn’t sound like a joke suggesting that our family was “perfect,” and that this “perfection” made her feel bad about her family. This happened three of four times over a two week period. Once a woman said “You are so PULLED TOGETHER. It just makes me feel so APART.”

Craig was standing behind me and I looked at him confused and he looked back at me equally confused. If you are friends with us in real life, you know the interaction I’m describing well. It is our signature interaction. I stammered my way through the rest of the conversation and on the way home, Craig and I debriefed.

We were baffled. Craig and I love each other dearly, but neither of us would describe the other as “pulled together.” These women may as well have been saying to me “I’m just so jealous of your HEIGHT and CULINARY SKILLS.” During our debriefing, Craig and I developed a theory that if you are thin and smile a lot, people tend to believe that you have the universe’s secrets in your pocket and also that a raindrop has never fallen upon your head. If you also happen to be wearing trendy jeans…just FUGGED ABOUT IT.

This theory distressed me greatly. Kept me up at night. I do not like to make other women feel APART. And I also like to match. I wanted my insides and outsides to match somehow. But I was scared I’d have to start looking like Pig Pen or Courtney Love to make that happen.

One day I was at the playground with a new friend from church named Tess. That’s not her real name, but it’s one of my favorites, and so is she, so Tess it is. I suspected that Tess was sad, and that she was having some trouble in her marriage. We hadn’t discussed this though, because we were too busy discussing more important things, like soccer practice and highlights.

All of a sudden I heard myself saying the following to Tess:

Listen. I want you to know that I’m a recovering alcohol, drug, and food addict. I’ve been arrested several times because of those things. Craig and I got accidentally pregnant and married a year after we started dating. We love each other madly but I’m secretly terrified that my issues with sex and anger will eventually screw things up. I get jealous easily…sometimes I actually feel sad and worried when good things happen to other people. Oh also, I snap at customer service people and my kids and husband regularly. I feel like I always have rage right beneath my surface. And right now I’m dealing with some post partum depression, I think. I spend most of my day just wishing my kids would leave me alone. Chase brought me a note the other morning that said “I hope mommy is nice today.” It’s depressing and scary, because I keep wondering what happens if that feeling never goes away? Maybe I just can’t handle this many kids. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know those things.

Tess stared at me, long enough that I wondered if she was going to call our minister or 911. Then I saw some tears and we sat down on a bench and she told me everything. Things with her husband were bad, apparently. Really bad. Tess felt scared and alone. But at the playground that day Tess decided she wanted help and love more than she wanted me to think she was perfect.

We hardly knew each other. But we both realized at that moment that we were in this together. We went through some tough times over the next few months. A lot of tears, therapy, separation, anger and fear. But a little army of love circled the wagons around Tess and her family and blockaded anybody from getting in too far or out too far. And eventually, things got better. A lot better. Tess and her husband and their beautiful children are together and healing and thriving now. And I got to watch all of that. I actually got to SEE the truth set a family free.

At that point in my life I was dying to do something meaningful and helpful, outside of my home, but no one would have me. We were rejected again and again when we tried to adopt. Then I tried to become a volunteer at the local nursing home, because I heard they were looking for volunteers to serve lemonade at lunch. They seemed thrilled with me until the background check, at which point they never called me back. Perhaps they thought I had a secret motivation to get all the old people wasted. Then I tried to volunteer at a local shelter for abused women. It actually looked like they might take me until the final interview when the woman said “As a formality, I just have to ask if you’ve ever been arrested.” She never called me back. It’s hard to explain it away as only five times.

I was depressed.

But then the Tess thing happened. And I thought, maybe I could do THAT. Maybe my public service could just be to tell people the truth about my insides. Because it seemed to make people feel better, for whatever reason. It struck me that for this particular “ministry,” my criminal record was a PLUS. It gave me street cred. And I considered that maybe the gifts God gave me were storytelling and shamelessness. Because you guys, I’m shameless. I’m almost ashamed at how little shame I have. Almost, but not really, at all. So I decided that’s what God wanted me to do. He wanted me to walk around telling people the truth. No mask, no hiding, no pretending. That was going to be my thing. I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine. By being my real self. But I was keeping my trendy jeans. I decided they were part of my real self.

A few days after I told Craig that I was going to “volunteer” as a “reckless truth teller” my minister called me on the phone. My first thought was that Tess had ratted me out. But this is what the minister said: “I know you’re having a hard time with the baby and it might seem like a bad time for you, but I feel like the time is now for you to tell your story to the church. The whole church. On stage. Live.”

Craig sweated and looked into whether or not he could be fired for having an ex -con for a wife. I planned my outfit.

Then I wrote my story, without leaving anything out. And I read it to my church. And it went really, really well. People were shocked. It is so fun to shock people. Lots and lots of people wanted to cry with me, too, and to tell me their stories. And I thought… WELL. OKAY, THEN. Take THAT, NURSING HOME. I DIDN’T WANT TO SERVE YOUR STUPID LEMONADE, ANYWAY. Do you get STANDING OVATIONS AND TEARS OF JOY FOR SERVING LEMONADE? I bet NOT.

I’d found my thing. Openness. I decided, based on firsthand experience , that it’s more fun to say things to make women feel hopeful than it is to say or omit things to make women feel jealous. And it’s easier, too. Less to keep track of and monitor.

I started Momastery a few months later,  to tell my truth recklessly to more people. And here, I’ve learned, along with hundreds of other brave women, that the most revolutionary act is telling the truth.

 

Love,
G



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest


  447 Responses to “Telling Secrets”

  1. […] in which the author, also a blogger, talks about how she has no shame.  She writes, “I’m shameless.  I’m almost ashamed at how little shame I have.”  I can see where she’s going with this.  As my own blog grows, I can feel my filter […]

  2. Now I want to join a group. Thank you, God bless you, and I look forward to shocking each other at every turn.

  3. My dog bit a kid today. The dog was not provoked. This was not the first time.

    My husband gathered around the kids to tell them not to talk about the fact that the dog has done this before for fear the dog will be taken. This fear is not unfounded.

    The dog is 10. He is too old to be rehomed. For him to be taken would be a death sentence and the punishment surely does not fit the crime (says someone who is not the child’s mother).

    The bite was not bad. The idea that my family is harboring a secret? There is no end to the old tapes playing in my head. Thank you for giving me a safe place to share.

  4. This is a great way to save your posts, especially if you’re sharing blogging duties with
    someone. Grammatical problems you should just change, and avoid the temptation of replying to pedants.

  5. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

  6. Fantastic web site you got right here! Hope you hold updating and make individuals like me stop by! It’ll be in my bookmarks so superior update!

  7. I switched churches and am trying to take my mask off. Parts of it are stuck but I am continuing to work on it. Thanks for showing the way and being an encourager. I want to be a reckless truth-teller.

  8. Wow what a great site. I really like the articles and the comments. computer repair chandler. One of those articles was really good I cannot remember which one.

  9. I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. Amazing and helpful piece of Information. I am glad that you only shared this useful info with us.

  10. So I’m in this same place… I’ve posted my blog link above, and it’s all about developing integrity through and through, so that “Sunday Nickie” is the same as “Monday through Saturday Nickie”. Since starting the blog, some relationships have gotten really hard and messed up because they’re unwilling to participate at a level that feels safe for me. Like flat out denial that they’re behaving badly. And they haven’t even read it. Part of me is tempted to broadcast it all over FB and the world and wherever else because I’m so tired of hearing “ME TOO! I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!” after weeks of getting to know people who actually DO want real relationship and to do life together. But letting people in who already have a history of being hurtful with my tender insides is SCARY.

  11. Glennon
    How do I blog? I am frusturated with myself being scared to follow my dreams- take a risk…. I follow all these AMAZING INSPIRING women and have all their books and daily inspirational quotes sent to my phone. I feel like I should be one of them! I am freaking terrified. Where do I start. I have a great story. Your TED talk gave me goosebumps and a speeding ticket! I was in lala land thinking about it going 28kms over the speed limit apparently.
    How did you start. Where… Do you have a chat room on your site? Or can you just comment on your postings..xoxoxoxoo LOVE YOU!

  12. Nice Blog definitely, you will find a many approaches after visiting your post.This is good to hear that finally, they come up with this innovation.

  13. Wow what a great site. I really like the articles and the comments. computer repair chandler. One of those articles was really good I cannot remember which one.

  14. always looking for good reading.

  15. […] that we’re trying to conceive? And that it’s been a struggle? Why shouldn’t we tell our secrets? What if keeping secrets is sometimes worse? Not that I assume everyone’s going to be […]

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  18. Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, regards . “Hereafter, in a better world than this, I shall desire more love and knowledge of you.” by William Shakespeare.

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  23. It! in actually Amazing and helpful piece of Information. I am glad that you only shared this useful info with us. Please keep usa informed like this. Thank you for discussing.

  24. I really like your writing style, wonderful information, regards for posting :D. “God save me from my friends. I can protect myself from my enemies.” by Claude Louis Hector de Villars.

  25. That is a beautiful thing. I’ve been eating up your posts for the past couple of weeks, after a friend shared one of the posts on FB – the one about dog days of motherhood. So much kindness. So much courage. Don’t stop writing.

  26. Woo Hoo! Hooray!
    I’m a recovering Mama too!
    Keep telling your truth!

  27. I’m wondering how to get out of a secret life. I began keeping secrets at a young age (trained by the best…) and now no one knows me at all. I’m lonely and I think I’m an alcoholic. But I don’t have kids to inspire me. Without kids, is there a purpose? (I’m unable to have kids )

    • You have a purpose. God planned for each of us to serve Him and gave us a purpose. When we deal with the hard things in our life, he gives us comfort, and that lets us “comfort with the comfort we have received.” We have a small group at our house weekly. Recently one of the women was widowed and later told me she wants to overcome her strong desire to run away when someone is sick. She said she thought she could ask me if I knew anyone as a counselor because I had mentioned that I have depression and have had counseling. I was transparent and she felt safe.
      The secrets that people demand that you keep are theirs, right? Let them keep them. You find someone safe to share them with and, if they are too big for that person, ask them to walk beside you until you find a counselor, someone to handle the big stuff.
      Our pastor recently said that we should be afraid no one will know about our sins and that we will never get out of them because no one knows. Tell.

  28. Thank you. Thank you for being honest, and truthful and real and open and beautiful. I was not what you are for many years. I became a Christian and went to a fancy downtown church and I drank their koolaid. I thought I had to act perfect and try and make my kids perfect and volunteer and sing in the choir and teach Sunday school and homeschool, and play handbells… It was exhausting and I became a pharisee. I am also sure that I made other women feel bad, not hopeful. So I switched churches and am trying to take my mask off. Parts of it are stuck but I am continuing to work on it. Thanks for showing the way and being an encourager. I want to be a reckless truth-teller.
    PS- God did use my sordid past to help a friend whose kid got caught smoking pot. She was pretty goody-goody and so she was devastated at the news. She was sure her kid was going to end up addicted to heroine and end up living in a cardboard box. I was able to tell her that i was a pothead for many years and that there are worse things that could happen. So I know God can use our lives to encourage others and that is a beautiful thing.

  29. I just saw you on the Today Show and had to check you out. You are so refreshing and vulnerable, it’s great. I recently “retired” from my more than full time job to be a stay at home Mom. Its been such an eye opening experience and a journey I am still navigating. Being a New Yorker known for her edginess and brutal honesty, I have come across so many “hiding” defenses I’ve used in my life. Thank you for “coming out” and sharing your “hidden” treasures in your life.

  30. wow I definitely was meant to hear about you. I too am dealing with the repercussions of a criminal record. I have so much inside me to give that feeling nobody would give me a chance. unfortunately it’s hard to take care of 3 children on dreams everyday I pray for a job that I can use my creativity and yet be able to support my family I hope 1 day that the trutset mefr
    ee and I can finaly find my true calling i want to reach people.

  31. I’ve read this post before, but I just wanted to say that I read it again and loved it so much I made it my HOMEpage. Because it’s too natural for me to be more jealous and secretive and I’m not comfortable with the natural-ness of that. I need this reminder EVERYDAY to tell my secrets a little more, and hopefully bring a wee bit of joy and hope to other women. THANKS Glennon.

  32. […] some stories that most people might not be so proud of. But Glennon proudly declares that she is shameless. She says she should be ashamed at how shameless she is. But she’s not. And it allows her a […]

  33. […]  Telling Secrets “But then the Tess thing happened. And I thought, maybe I could do THAT. Maybe my public […]

  34. Thank you so much for your honesty-it is easy to think everyone else has it all together and that you are the only one feeling out of control or having a bad day. I love your posts and thank you again!:)

  35. […] Glennon Melton is my emotional/spiritual doppelganger. I fell in love with her on my first read. Here is another one of my favorites. You can’t help but love her real, often raw, so very […]

  36. Thank you. Lately I have been struggling with whether or not I should share some personal experiences with some friends that are going through similar things. I don’t want to imply they should make the exact same choices, or imply that I have all the answers. Just running across your blog made me feel like I felt like I should share for a reason, and maybe it is part of why I had these experiences.

  37. So many thoughts going through my head after reading your post – but if I may just say one thing… THANK YOU – for sharing, for your honesty, and for being REAL <3 God bless <3

  38. […] Click here. If you enjoyed this article, please consider sharing it! Tagged with: Beauty • Blogs • Glennon Melton • Kimberly • Vulnerability  […]

  39. Very great and brave. I feel people are less honest as the world is judgy. People are just doing there best with what they have. Parenting especially has become a competitive sport, and mothers are in a race to be the best. They are often trying to pull a mulligan on their youth through those children. Isn’t it our goal to just raise decent adults?

  40. Excellent blog! I am a writer who started to write for the same reason that you are doing so. We need more real, honest voices out there! Especially in the church. Thanks for sharing. It was so good to hear that I am not alone in this! :)

  41. […] is brilliant and, to use her term, “brutiful.”  The first treasure I found was, “Telling Secrets,” about the healing that comes, for us and others, by simply being honest about who we are […]

  42. You write beautfiully and have an amazing story to tell, with a rare touch we seldom see…honesty. thank you

  43. A friend emailed me the link to this post. I have to wonder if the same fly lives on both our walls!?!? I am struck by how honesty is a balm for an isolated soul who thinks she’s the only one. The only recovering alcoholic (me too!). The only one with food additiction problems (me too!). The only one whose imperfections seep into every area of her life (me too!). We compare our insides to another person’s outsides and we always come up short. May the Lord bless you as you obey Him in your transparent ministry that is obviously touching thousands of women right now. Way to glorify Him!!! May His truth set us all free in all the areas in which we struggle. Shauna Wallace, Becoming Wholly His

  44. I was out to dinner with a friend having a conversation about finding it hard to be real and honest with women these days when she told me about you. I love your writing. I love your honesty. Thanks for sharing. All of it is so true!!!

  45. […] being invited to share her addiction stories – and fully disclose her past – with her entire church congregation. FFS. Now, I’m by no means a churchgoer (yes, shocking, I know), but I can appreciate that it […]

  46. Please write a book :)

  47. […] jako całość i pewnie nieraz coś z niego tu zamieszczę, znalazł się niedawno taki wpis: Telling secrets (czyli Zdradzając […]

  48. I hope you don’t mind if I translate a few sentences from this entry in my blog (in Polish). You’re truly my inspiration! Thank you.

  49. Witness!

    I tell my story to select folks, in person, when it’s clear it will help because they hurt. And then. Then I find they are telling me their truths and I’m being healed.

    The only reason I don’t share it all publicly is because so much of my story doesn’t include my current people. Those people, while they know about as much of the story as I can recall, they would be hurt by my screaming it from the blogtops.

    But damn if don’t love what you do. So, sing on.

  50. What you say in this post is EXACTLY why I abandoned my old blog and started Honest Mom. I am not as brave as you, as I have not told my “real life” friends and family about my blog. There is too much judgement in my small town for me to be that open. BUT. What you said here:

    “I’d found my thing. Openness. I decided, based on firsthand experience , that it’s more fun to say things to make women feel hopeful than it is to say or omit things to make women feel jealous.”

    That’s it. Exactly. I want moms who are like me and struggle day-to-day to know that they are not alone. I am not perfect either. No one is, even if it looks like they are. I also want to make women feel better about their insides by showing them mine.

    Thank you for writing this and being you!

  51. The song “Stained Glass Masquerade” by Casting Crowns is very appropriate for many of us!

  52. God is blessing your vulnerability – as if you need me to tell you that! He has done similar things in my life. Vulnerability is my soap box, but you are a WAY better writer. I’ll be sending people to you!!! Thank you for being obedient!!

  53. My absolute favorite line…”I’m almost ashamed at how little shame I have.” Hilarious, and awesome!! I have found a kindred spirit! I’ve been murmuring for years about this problem. What is it with Christian moms and their compelling need to appear perfect?? It gets to me like nails on a chalkboard. If there is anything in the world that I am NOT, it is fake. To watch so many women feel pressure to be fake is heart wrenching and leaves me feeling empty and sometimes less than, because I refuse to play along. Occasionally I am able to dig through the fake to the real people underneath, but not always. What’s even harder than putting up with the fakeness are the downward glances or the keeping me at arm’s length by those who want everyone to just play the game. I like to shock people to. It’s entertaining for sure but best case scenario, it puts people at ease like you talked about with Tess.

    I love, love, love your blog. You are so real. I think this is my favorite post of all times. I want to shout it out from the rooftops! Carry on, my friend! Carry on…

  54. Hey, so, thank you. You make me smile. You make me cry. You make me feel like I’m not the worst mother in the world just because at times I find this whole junket just so so so hard. A friend put me on to your blog the day after I told her that I was just about ready (well, actually well and truly ready) to quit my day job (I’m a full-time mum). I read your ‘carpe diem’ post and felt the weight of motherhood lifting off my shoulders. You really have a gift for writing. Thank you for your brutal honesty. Your humour (we spell it this way in New Zealand). Your humanity. Please keep writing. I promise to (sometimes) keep reading (screen time is a rare commodity in our household). I hope you have had a good day. Thank you for making mine better. Best go. Baby crying. xoA

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