What she heard…….· 0 comments · Living authentically
I know a lot of people who say that the three most powerful words are, “I love you.” I know others who disagree. They say that the three words are, “It’s all good.” And others I know say, with absolute certainty, that both those are wrong because the words are, “No F***** Way.” Just so we’re clear, what they say is perfectly fine, but what they say is also completely wrong. The three most powerful words in the English language are actually, “Don’t Tell Mom.”
Growing up as the younger sister, I heard those words a lot. “Don’t tell Mom, I ditched school and went to the beach.” “Don’t tell Mom, I used the money for gas and bought a pair of jeans.” “Don’t tell Mom, I’m moving to Florida.” (New Jersey, Upstate New York, Philadelphia…) And so her secrets stayed with me until she let them out herself. (According to an unwritten code of secret etiquette, that’s the right thing to do: it’s the secret teller who reveals the secret, not the secret keeper.)
So what is it about secrets? Is it a test of loyalty? Because if it is, I passed; I never told Mom. (Funny, it didn’t ever occur to me that the test of loyalty could have actually been one to my Mom, but no, that wasn’t it, it was always to my sister.)
But if it’s not a test of loyalty, what then? An initiation into a club? A Sisters Club where simply being a sister isn’t quite enough for membership? You have to be willing to lay it on the line for your sister, get in trouble for your sister, and cover her mistakes, too. I was accepted into that club and remain a card-carrying member.
Are secrets about asserting power over someone? I can see how it could look like that from the outside, but from the inside it never did. So what did it feel like?
It felt extraordinary. There was a whole world out there, but the world in here was so much more fun, and possibly dangerous. But danger that would always be lessened by having someone, my best someone, going through it alongside me.
If felt exciting. What would happen if something went wrong? What would happen if Mom found out? (Because honestly, Mom always did find out. Are those powerful 3 words really, “Mom found out!”) But until she did find out, it was just the two of and we knew we were unstoppable and we knew we would emerge victorious. (Except when we didn’t, which never seemed to matter that much anyway.)
But mostly, it felt like love. This is how two sisters love each other, through secrets we tell each other, not ones we keep to ourselves. This is how two sisters support each other, through secrets we keep for each other. This is how two sisters go through life together, through secrets that make us stronger together than we could have ever been on our own.
“Don’t tell Mom, but I figured it out.” This is the way she wanted us to be in the world…there for each other, all the time, always.