"Dirty Little Secrets"--AFTER

Last week, while I was in the SF Bay area, I was able to meet up with an internet friend and author, Cynthia Jaynes Omololu. She wrote "Dirty Little Secrets", a YA novel whose main character is the teenager daughter of a woman affected by a hoarding disorder. The story is beautifully written, and although CJ is not the child of a hoarding-affected parent, she really did the research and talked to COHers to get it right.

Next month, DLS comes out in paperback. To celebrate, and perhaps to tease you into reading it again, CJ has put up a chapter looking back and giving readers an update into Lucy's life two years later. I'm not going to tell you more...just suggest that you read the book (again?) and then read the after here.

After reading the segment, I had a moment of clarity.

Last summer, my family (sans my mother) returned to the DC area for the first time since we moved Mom across the country. During our trip, we made a special trip to drive past the old house. We didn't knock on the door or anything like that, but I could see enough from the street to know that major work had been done on the interior of the house, i.e. normal people were inhabiting the home again. The outside of the home looked almost identical, but I know (and have verified with the realtor) that the inside of the home is brand new.

My life is like that house. I always hated that house. When we moved there, we left the community where I'd made and bonded with friends for years. Although we didn't move far, I was now on a transfer status to school. Additionally, we had looked at having a new home built but my mother changed her mind when the first lot didn't perk. I didn't want to move there.

That house was symbolic of much of my life--a series of events that I had no control over but that I hated. I'd rather be away from the place (denial) than to be honest and face it head on. For the most part, as an adult, I spent 15 years successfully avoiding that home and a close relationship with my mother.

However, in my denial and avoidance, something within me began to harden. My heart was often hardened to stone and further denial was easier to deal with than risking further pain. So I ignored the issue.

(It's interesting to note here that one of the reasons hoarding-affected persons are hard to treat and work with is a lack of insight [I have a problem] and habituation [it no longer seems that bad]. And yet, denial, bitterness and anger have the same effects on others. I understand how it was so difficult for my mom to see she had a problem and how big it really was because I was doing the same thing with my heart!)

In the last eighteen months, my life and my heart have gone through a major demolition and rebuilding. On the outside, I look the same (and I am still carrying the extra weight I've used to insulate myself for years to prove I'm the same outside), but on the inside I am brand-spanking-new!

The process involved tearing down old ideas; I gave up broken habits. Initially, I picked up old broken habits as a coping strategy (smoking...ugh! But I haven't had a cigarette in over a year and will never again place one to my lips!). I had to be torn apart and broken beyond what I thought could be repaired before I would make the repairs and changes that led me to where I am today: working on not being bound to the past and to pain!

It's a long process, painful even at times. But it is worth the journey, the effort, the time, the sacrifice.

Perhaps you are facing a brokenness in your own life. You may wonder if it's worth it to step up and out. All I can tell you is what I know personally: You are worth every tear, every giggle, every hug, every punch in the gut. And I know you can do it, because I've grown up thinking I'm not very much, but even I've been able to do this.

You only have to make a choice.


Here's a picture of Cynthia Jaynes Omololu and I from our get together last week. I highly recommend reading "Dirty Little Secrets".


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