Posts Tagged ‘secrets’

Between Breaths

I just finished reading a memoir titled Between Breaths A Memoir Of Panic And Addiction by Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News’ 20/20. I first heard of it when I saw her give an interview about a year ago. I finally found the novel, on sale, during Amazon’s Black Friday Kindle sale. I didn’t get a chance to read it until now.  I will start by saying that I recommend it highly to anyone that has an interest in alcoholism, panic disorders, or celebrity memoirs.

I was interested in it because she, Elizabeth Vargas, has long been a favorite of mine. She is intelligent, compassionate, professional, and genuine. I have also always had a fascination with literature about alcoholics and memoirs of alcoholics. I think my readers will remember that I have relatives that have suffered through this horrible, debilitating disease.  In this expertly written memoir, Vargas minces no words. The writing is beautiful and poetic at times, yet always genuine and always baffling. She goes through her childhood filled with bullying and anxiety which led to a lifetime of anxiety, panic, and a feeling of not being worthy. This is the background that led her to begin drinking and keep drinking until she lost everything and had to rebuild what she could. I won’t go into a lot of details about the book because I would hope that at least some of you would grab it and read it. It is enlightening for all of us, whether we have a history of addiction in ourselves or in our families. I urge you to read it.

I will also take this time to explain another link, one I haven’t previously written about. It’s kind of my secret.

It happened when I was a college student. It was in the early fall of my third year of college. I was at an elite private school on a full ride scholarship. I had always enjoyed being a top student and excelling at everything I did. Then when I got to this west coast ivy covered campus amid the tall trees of California, everything fell apart. I was away from home for the first time and for the first time, I wasn’t the smartest or the brightest. I was just so-so. There were people telling me that I didn’t belong there. I had only gotten into that school because of Affirmative Action, they told me. I was unhappy but should have been very happy. I was fighting to keep things from falling apart. I was fighting to keep being myself, the bubbly girl with the infectious laugh. But I was losing the battle. I found myself drinking a lot. First it was just to loosen up then it was to be able to face people. I had been having a lot of stomach problems ever since my freshman year. It seemed that my stomach would tighten up as soon as I got to the dining hall and I wouldn’t be able to eat. I was losing a lot of weight. I eventually discovered that if I had a swig of tequila (no chardonnay for me) before I walked out the door and headed for the dining hall, I would be able to enjoy dinner and be my bubbly self throughout the meal. The need for the booze was getting worse. I realize in retrospect that I was at the point of “needing” a swig from that bottle every time I left the room.

One Friday night, a friend was visiting from her out of state job. She had graduated the previous year and had been working in New Mexico but had come to town for a visit. We had a lot of mutual friends and we decided to have a party in the dorm. Not a party for everyone but one just up in one of the rooms. One of the people coming to the party was a young man I was trying to impress. I remember it being a little before seven o’clock and people were starting to arrive. I had bought some wine and had also brought in my bottle of tequila to share. And I drank. The music was on and the lights were low and this young man that I was trying to impress arrived from his fraternity with a girl hanging on to his hand. I danced and laughed and pretended not to care. I remember it being just after seven. Then the next thing I knew, I was waking up in a bed with white sheets and white curtains around my bed and I was wearing a hospital gown. There was a young man sitting at the foot of my bed reading. I asked where I was and he said I was at the health center and he buzzed for a nurse. After an examination, the nurse filled me in on some of my questions. I had been brought in by concerned friends on Friday evening. They had to carry me in. I had been put on medications to detox from the alcohol. I had slept Friday night, all day and night Saturday, and it was Sunday afternoon. So I had lost almost forty-eight hours! I couldn’t believe it. They gave me my clothes and sent in a student volunteer to help me get dressed as I was still very wobbly and they called my friends to come get me. They came to walk with me back to the dorm (which was literally the building across from my dorm but of course there were huge grassy areas between them. I walked home…barefoot. Apparently I had not had my shoes on when I was taken to the health center and none of my friends could answer where they were or where the clothes was that I had been wearing when that little party started. I never found those clothes or the shoes, either.

This was the wake up call I needed. I knew that with a history of alcoholism in my family and how the booze made me feel good and happy and brave enough to face anything, I couldn’t drink anymore. I couldn’t risk it. So I quit cold turkey. I had a friend go in my room and take out all the booze and get rid of it for me. And then I didn’t drink again. That lasted over a year and then I was very careful not to drink alone and not to drink when I was sad or when I felt like I “needed” to drink. It has been over forty years and I have not sank into those depths again. In fact, I have rarely drank to excess in those years. I’ve gone through marriage, a horrible divorce, single parenting of my three children, holding down three jobs at once, and some pretty horrible illnesses and rejections. I’ve managed to do it all without sinking into that bottle. I enjoy drinking. I drink beer and wine and I love Margaritas. I also love a dash of Kahlua in my coffee. But I don’t drink more than I should and I don’t wake up hung over.

I learned my lesson. It cost me humiliation. It cost me a lot of self-doubt but it also led me to examine my life and any future I hoped to have. And I came out of it. I was strong enough. Not everyone is. Many people have no support and many have one problem piled on top of another and another and another. Some people are just not as lucky as I have been.

So now you know my deep, dark secret.

One of them, anyway!

Cheers! 🙂

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Lisa is bruised today. She knows she needs to cover up and wear clothes that won’t show her bruises when she goes to school. Her dad was really angry at everyone last night. Lisa didn’t get out of his way fast enough.

He yells at her. The next day he apologizes and he cries and he brings her some special treat. It has always been that way, since she was a little girl. He told her she can’t tell anyone. It happens to everyone, her dad says. It’s normal. It just isn’t talked about because it’s supposed to be kept secret and private. He smiles at her and caresses her cheek. He’ll try not to do it again.


Michael’s dad left last year. He just didn’t come home one day. His mom was glad at first but then she got sad. She missed him. She was lonely. She had Matt come into her room to sleep in her bed because she was lonely. She didn’t want to sleep alone. Michael didn’t mind. He didn’t like being alone in his room either. Then one night when he was sleeping, he woke up and his mom was touching him. It felt good and when she saw he was awake, she stopped. Then another night, she kept on touching him and she asked him to touch her. She took his hand and touched her breasts with it. That was all. But as time went by, she made him touch her more and she touched him more. When she touched him it made him feel good. She told him not to tell anyone. Everyone does it. It is just not talked about. It’s private. It’s secret. Shhh. Shhh.


Why don’t people tell when they are abused? One of the reasons is because it has happened to them for so long that they don’t know any other way. And in most cases, they have been told by their abusers that what is happening is normal. It’s a secret. Don’t tell tell. It’s private. Everyone does it. And the know no other way of life so they believe that it is normal. It may not feel right but they have been made to believe that it’s normal. Shhh. Shhh.

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Statistics tell us that many instances of abuse go unreported. We also know that the more people talk about abuse, the more power we give to victims and potential victims. To keep it hush-hush is to empower the abuser.

Why do victims keep abuse secret? The reasons are as wide and varied as the types of abuses. They also vary depending on the age of the victim.

“What will people think?”

“They are going to blame me; they will say it’s all my fault.”

“If I tell they will hate me.”

“If I tell, they won’t believe me.”

“He said if I told, he would hurt my family.”

“He said if I told, he would say that I made it up. They’ll believe him.”

“It was all my fault. I shouldn’t have been alone with him.”

“It’s all my fault. I trusted him.”

“If I tell, he’ll go to jail and I won’t have anyone to support me. I’ll be homeless.”

“If I tell, he’ll go to jail and the kids will miss him.”

“If I tell, they’ll send him away and everyone will blame me.”

Women who are beaten often say it was their fault, not the batterer’s. They make excuses. They weren’t hit. They fell down the stairs. They slipped in the bathtub. It was her fault; she picked a fight. It was her fault; she didn’t have dinner ready. It was her fault; she didn’t keep the kids quiet.

When their partner is jailed for domestic violence, women will often run around trying to come up with bail money; they borrow without telling what the money is for; they make excuses for their partner’s absence (they’re away on a business trip; they are away on family business). They are desperate to get their lives back to “normal” even though that normal will, most likely, mean a return to the violent behavior. They want to forget about it. They want things back the way they were. Maybe after the last incident it won’t happen again.

The reasons are varied. It takes a long, long time for victims to come forth. Some never do.

By keeping quiet about it, victims give their abusers power. By speaking up and telling what has happened to them, victims gain the power.

My 2016 A to Z Challenge posts:



Child Abuse


Elder Abuse

Families & Domestic Violence



Many Who Are Sexually Abused Keep Quiet (NPR, excellent)

Victims May Keep Abuse Secret For Years

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If we were having coffee today, Halloween 205, I would tell you it’s best to keep your distance. I’ve been sick with a yucky cold and sore throat for four days. I had hoped it would be gone by today but no such luck! So be warned, there are cold germs all over here.

Sneeze! Cough! Nose blowing!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week was a good one, sickness and all. On Tuesday we all went along with Anderson’s kindergarten class to the pumpkin patch. We went in our car; they went on the bus. Spencer got to go through and pick his pumpkin before the bus even got there. He loved running from one to the other and of course, being the little dynamo that he is, he wanted to pick up the biggest and heaviest of the pumpkins. Nope. Not happening. He got a small one, just right for him to carry to the scale to weight and pay for it. Then there was a hayride and a corn maze and eating lunch with Anderson’s class. Lots of fun was had by one and all.

The rest of the week was a student-free week at his school for conferences. So I kept him entertained here at my house. He even slept over three of the last four nights! We painted a tooth fairy box because he has a couple of loose teeth already! He painted it dark blue the modge podged it, then glitter. He’s all set for his teeth to come out now! We painted a jack-o-lantern t-shirt for him to wear, too. He also decorated little pumpkins made from foam sheets. We’ve watched a gazillion Halloween animated specials, too. Last night we carved his pumpkin and roasted the seeds.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. This is my ninth year doing it! I am also doing NaBloPoMo and posting on my blog every day of the month. This year I’ve joined the team at NaBloPoblano for that endeavor. You’ll see more of that in the next day or two if I don’t drop dead from this cold. Ahhhchoo!

Pssst! Want to know a secret? Well it’s sort of not a secret. I’ve known for a couple of months but was sworn to secrecy. This was the hardest secret I’ve had to keep, ever! The word is I will be nana to grandchild number three come next May!  Yay! The tough part is that this one will be in Seattle, not right in the same mobile home park like the other two. Which leads me to secret number two…

My daughter and I will be going to Omaha at the beginning of December to check it out…as in we may move there. Yeah. That’s a big secret. And that will make that Seattle baby so much further away. I don’t like that. However, as you may remember, I did tell you that as of next May I will have zero income. That doesn’t leave me a lot of choices. My daughter wants to move away from here because the cost of living has really increased here (my rent, just for the space here because I own the house, went up from $325 in 2008 to $600 seven years later) and the traffic is getting horrible. There aren’t a lot of jobs here, either. They want me to go with them wherever they go and that’s a good thing otherwise I would have no place to go and I don’t want to be so far from my boys. I don’t think I could stand that. We’re used to them calling me and saying that the boys want to go come over and at the drop of a hat, they are here. I go by their house and stop to invite the boys to go with me to the store or for coffee or even just a drive. They are so much a part of my every day life that I could not be far from them so it’s a good thing they’ve included me. We’ll see if we end up in Omaha or Lincoln or who knows where!

Sneeze! Cough. Cough. Cough.

Well, I have a gazillion things to do. I am determined to put up an altar for dia de los muertos this year and I have to get that set up. Everything is ready to be put together. I also have to write a lot of posts for this blog so I can have something handy to post on days I don’t have time to write something. Prepare to see some picture posts, too.

Before I go, tell me about you. Are you managing to stay healthy? What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods? We’re supposed to have another bad storm drop up to a couple of inches of rain today which is not good news for trick-or-treaters!  Books? I’ve not read a lot this week. Not enough time and my eyes hurt because of my cold. Movies? I didn’t get to watch all the horror movies I wanted to because Anderson has been here overnight three times this week and stayed here until bedtime two other nights! I can’t watch horror movies with him in the house. I have to have the volume way up and he would hear it!

Okay, I’m done. I want another cup of coffee so you go ahead and talk to me. I’ll sit quietly and listen, smile, and nod!  Don’t forget to go visit Diana at Part Time Monster to join in the #WeekendCoffeeShare fun! Stay safe and dry tonight! Save me a chocolate from your treats, too!

My new BIG coffee mug!

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