Saturday, December 10, 2011
HOW UNLEASHING THE SECRET SETS YOU FREE -- A REVIEW
Whatever we're dealing with, we are schooled in the homes where we grow up to keep the secret.
Jessie Sholl's secret was her mother's hoarding behavior, and in this insightful memoir, Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding, she shares not only the behavior, but many of the emotions, the history, and the ways in which her mother's disorder affected her life. And then she described how she finally broke free. Much in the way the children of alcoholics do: by accepting that she could not change her mother's behavior. Once she did that, she could step back and not take responsibility for it.
But before that could happen, she had to go through a process and some very painful, ugly realities on the road to freedom.
Like a conversation, Sholl describes her life, her feelings, and how she gradually changed...as if she is telling it to friends or to a support group. Something she discovered at a point on her journey: an online group for the children of hoarders.
She also begins to develop a great deal of insight into what her mother's world view looks like. In a get-together toward the end of this journey toward recovery, she, her mother, and her husband are having lunch.
"While they talk, I find myself imagining that I've shrunk myself down, so tiny that I'm microscopic. As this microscopic being I'm able to enter my mother's mind. Once I'm in, I try to look around. It's dark, too dark to see. But I can feel what's in there. And there's so much. It's filled with isolation and disregard and abuse. It's filled with uncertainty and self-doubt. It's filled with laughter, too. It's filled with friendless winters. It's filled with salty breezes and ten happy years with a man who truly loved her. It's filled with chaos and emptiness when that man was gone...."
In this excerpt, we come to understand the etiology of this disorder for one woman and her family. A captivating five-star read that I will never forget.