I grabbed the folder and handed it to Rachel. “I’ve been doing some writing. Here’s some of my stuff. If you’re interested…”
wesome shopping trip, thanks!” I said to my friend Rachel as I swung open the front door. “It’s been way too long since we spent time together — I think the last time was when you were feeding me mango in the hospital!”
Dumping my bags down on the floor, I invited Rachel to take a seat, and I glanced around, looking for an easy way to keep her entertained while I prepared supper. I spied the green folder where I store my proudly cut-out “Whispers” columns.
Should I? Shouldn’t I?
Not pausing to think about the consequences, I grabbed the folder and handed it to Rachel. “I’ve been doing some writing. Here’s some of my stuff. If you’re interested…”
I chopped zucchini while peeking at her face. It changed from curiosity to surprise and finally to an indescribable mix of emotions. Rachel sat, almost unmoving, slowly making her way through the folder that contained my life story. I finished preparing supper and sat down across from her. She kept reading.
A bubble of nerves grew in my stomach. I reached for my phone, trying to distract myself. I kept looking at her face. I saw the “aha” look. Relief: some of the question marks that had dogged our friendship were finally being answered. Tears gathered in the corner of her eyes and I realized that our friendship would never be the same.
Silently, I prayed it would only change for the better. I prayed I wouldn’t get the pity and overprotectiveness that had come with some earlier attempts at being honest with friends. Rachel picked up the last piece in the folder, and my nerves felt ready to snap — what was she thinking? Would she understand that I’m still the same person, even after reading my biggest secret, along with my insecurities? Finally, she put down the papers and stood up. “Can I please hug you?” she asked.
I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding and stood up. We hugged and then I stepped back and watched as Rachel wiped tears from her cheeks. I saw the admiration in her eyes. It was going to be okay.
“I had no idea you went through all this. I’m so proud to be your friend.”
Vulnerability. Relief. Happiness. She knew and didn’t think worse of me!
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” I said, thinking of how much easier life would have been…
“It’s okay. I have my secrets, too. Everyone has their own story… but I’m really glad you shared it with me now.”
I waved goodbye to my newest favorite person in the world, bubbling with emotion. I didn’t feel like just continuing with my evening, so I picked up the phone and called my sister. “Guess what just happened? I shared my story with a friend and if she judged me it was only for the good…!”
“I’m so glad you had a positive experience with sharing! It’s great that you’re finally seeing people who appreciate that Marfan’s only makes you a stronger person.’
She. Said. Marfan’s.
She said the M word!
A family member had finally dared say the name of the challenge that has made me who I am.
I had taken the first daring step, sharing my deepest self, and the world around seemed to reflect a profound inner shift.
There is a long road ahead of me, and I haven’t yet figured out the perfect formula between privacy and disclosure, but I’ve learned to be okay with reality, with my G-d-given challenges. I have the knowledge to do what I need to do. And I have the strength to share it with the world.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 517)
Oops! We could not locate your form.