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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)

TITLE: Secrets
By Joy Bach


I listened as the young lady told me her story. Attending college miles from home, she had gotten pregnant. In her embarrassment, she had told no one, determined to go through the nine months alone. Since abortion was not an option, she made plans for adoption.

With her pregnancy in full bloom, she met a very nice young man. As their relationship grew, she finally opened up to him and told the whole story. He vowed to be by her side through the coming days.

He was her labor coach. Then he helped her through the first days after she gave the baby up. When life had settled down, he declared his love and asked her to marry him.

As she talked, her youngest child played at her feet. Her other three children were in various parts of the house.

“No one but my husband knows of the other child” she told me.

But now I did.

The young lady sat on the couch, fidgeting with the sleeves of her coat. The room was warm enough for the coat to be removed. But she had a secret she needed to keep covered.

“I don’t know how to make it through some days. I feel like my body has betrayed me.”

I listened as she told her story. It seemed the only thing that mattered to her was the size of her breasts…or lack of. She had what is called “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”.

In the preliminary phone call from her, before our meeting, I had realized how very serious this issue was to her. So I had done some research and discovered the disorder and that it can be so severe some sufferers commit suicide.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is defined as an excessive preoccupation with an imagined or a minor defect of a localized facial feature or body part. People with this disorder view themselves as ugly or misshapen.

Even though she had the tall, lean body of a model, she was embarrassed about who she was. The smile she wore on her face was a cover up for her very low self-esteem. She led a busy life, attended church, and chauffeured her children to their various school and sports activities. But she always wore a loose fitting top or jacket. She didn’t want anyone to know her secret.

But now I did.

The young man had such a serious look on his face. He was sharing about the young lady he had fallen in love with…and about the secret he was keeping from her.

“She is a nice Christian lady and she doesn’t know I ever smoked.”

As the conversation continued, he shared more and more of his past with me. Drinking. Drugs. His children aborted. And he was worried she would find out that he had been a smoker?

He lived in another city. It seemed unlikely that I would ever meet his wife, but if I did I was to share nothing of his words today. It seemed he just needed to download all his secrets so he could have a fresh start. His love would never know of these issues in his past.

But now I did.

I knew the middle-aged lady sitting across from me. We attended the same church. Something was really bothering her. Soon we left the surface talk and her distress poured out.

A few days before, her husband had gone off to work as usual. Even though she rarely called him at work, she needed to ask him a question that day. She was very surprised to be told he had taken a vacation day. That evening he arrived home just a little later than normal. She confronted him with her discovery; but was not prepared for his answer when she asked where he had been.

“I spent the day at a nudist colony.”

She agreed with him, when he said no one else should ever know.

But now I did.


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This article has been read 481 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon02/25/10
An unloaded secret can lift a burden for the one who carried it, but then the burden falls on the unsuspecting listener who tries to be a friend. Being a good listener can mean carrying a heavy load. Very thought provoking entry. Good job!
Margaret Gass02/26/10
Wow. What a wonderful approach to this topic! I loved the repetition of the line, "But now I did." It was, in fact, this line that helped me realize that you were portraying different stories...I had to read the top portion again because I thought the young mom was the one afraid to remove her coat. Though that's probably because I'm tired, it might be helpful to use a slightly different font for each "story," or perhaps a transition or two. I also noted that the listener is now carrying those burdens--very effective ending. Good job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/26/10
I too had a hard time realizing right away that you were talking about different people. Even when you went on to the man I thought you were doing couple counseling. I liked the different degrees of the secret. You did a good job showing what might be super important secret to one might not be to another. It was an interesting take on the topic and once my confusion cleared I enjoyed it.