Sometimes keeping secrets are a good thing. Like when your over-sensitive spouse buys you gifts of clothing you would never be caught dead in but you smile, thank him and bury said object in the back of your closet waiting until the appropriate amount of time has passed and said hideous article makes it way to the nearest clothing donation drop box. You trust someone somewhere has a rich appreciation for rhinestones. Or like when you decide on the arduous transformation of your life.
Now why, you might ask, would this be something you would want to keep a secret? In our society, transformation is a good thing; it keeps the self-help industry making billions of dollars. We love those before and after moments. “I weighed 600lbs and lived in a box before I followed (x) now I live in Beverly Hills and spend all my time counting my money and gazing at my toned abs and thighs.” But see, society isn’t the problem for me. I could walk up to a complete stranger confess my desire to finish my novel, lose weight and run another marathon and that person will, 95% of the time, pat me on the back and wish me well. Maybe they’ll even mention the crazy woman they met in the supermarket and her crazy hair-brained dream. Strangers are not the problem. It’s my family.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my family and in terms of dysfunction we tend towards the low end of the spectrum but the moment me, as wife, mother, and custodian of the family, announces my intention to do anything these people turn on me. Not at first. At first, they smile. They say things like “Cool” and “Great” but sometime after my announcement, they pounce. Sometimes they work collectively but other times it’s an individual effort to throw every imaginable obstacle my way. It’s like that moment in the movie Poltergeist when the mother is racing down the hallway trying to get to the bedroom of her screaming children and the hall keeps getting longer and longer. This is my life except the hallway keeps stretching.
I’ve tried expressing how important it is for me to be able to follow my dreams and not die a bitter dejected woman who will haunt them with my resentment; how all I need just an hour or two here or there but it’s all in vain. I’ve taken to calling this period of my Life Interruptus. If there is only an hour of non-frost bite free weather for me to get a run in, someone will work to seize this time. Once my creative juices are flowing and they hear my fingers flying across the keyboard, they hurl incendiary devices severing all connections from my brain to my fingers.
So how do you fight an enemy this insidious? To paraphrase Schultz in Hogan’s Heroes, “Tell them nothing.”
I’ve tried it out and it works. Instead of making announcements, “I plan on getting a run in while the sun is still out.” I just put on my running clothes and say I’ll be back in 45 minutes. I’ll say I’m going to the supermarket without mentioning that I’m stopping at the gym first. I’ll say I’m off to clean the toilets and no one notices the laptop under my arm. It’s brilliant and so far they haven’t seen through it. For now, mums the word.