The Secret: Part 3

Jillian_BlogThis is the third in a three-part series written by 2001 grad Jillian.

December 31, 2011

My hand trembles as I reach out to click send.  With fear, yes, but also with the effects of a bottomless cup of coffee.  I fill and refill my cup as I write and rewrite this letter I’ve been composing in my mind for over five years.   It feels a little bit wrong to send it as an email, but I’ve stopped worrying about that.  I need them to know today.  Before this year is over.  New year, new beginning.  Fresh start.

Your message has been sent, my computer tells me.  I send a text message to my mom and my older sister, tell them I’ve sent them an email, ask them to read it today if they can.  I call a friend to come over and sit with me while I wait to see if I’ll hear back from them, and hopefully to make me a sandwich.  It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I haven’t eaten anything yet.  I’m so hungry, but I can’t get off the floor.  My legs won’t move.

My sister calls me almost immediately, before she gets through even the first paragraph, she says.  I can barely understand her through the sobs, but I’m getting the gist.  She loves me.  She had her suspicions.  She doesn’t understand why I waited so long to tell her.  She totally understands why I waited so long to tell her.  This secret was like that.  I knew I could tell them and I would still be okay.  I knew I could never tell them, because once I did, nothing would ever be okay again.  Now I’m sobbing, too.  This, at least, is not lost.  This friendship built over a lifetime.  There will be at least one ally.

Steph comes over, all smiles.  I’m so proud of you, she says.  Congratulations!!!  Big hugs.  More crying.  Are you hungry?  I brought bacon.  Thank God, I think, and the pig who gave its life for the amazing sandwich I’m about to eat.

I feel better once I’ve eaten—less shaky.  I keep telling myself it’s fine if I only hear from one of them.  I keep hoping someone else will call.  After about 100 hours (ok, maybe it was less than that, but it felt like at least 100), Mom calls.  I can barely understand her, she’s talking so fast, but I’m getting the gist.  She loves me.  She had her suspicions.  She’s sorry this has been so difficult for such a long time.  She took down the Christmas tree today… Chicken was on sale at the grocery store…  Some friends are coming over for New Year’s Eve…  She changes the subject quickly, but she says the best thing I could have hoped for her to say.  You’re our daughter.  We love you.  No matter what.  Nothing will ever change that.  I knew that’s what she would say.  I was afraid she might never say that to me again.

I feel so relieved.  I feel hopeful.  I feel free.  I feel grateful.  I know there will be bumps in the road ahead, but tonight I will ring in the new year celebrating the gigantic boulder that just rolled out of that road.  I will dance.  I will sing.  I will tell my story.

I feel exhausted.  I feel ravaged.  I will sleep for 100 days.

I think of a few lines from Lighthousekeeping (Jeanette Winterson):

Tell me a story, Pew.

What story, child?

One that begins again.

That’s the story of life.

But is it the story of my life?

Only if you tell it….


Part broken part whole, you begin again.


Here’s to new beginnings.  Happy New Year.


~Jillian ’01


See other posts from Jillian here:

The Secret: Part 1

The Secret: Part 2






  1. Pingback: Untold – The Secret, Part 2

  2. carolyn

    a deep bow.

  3. Jill,

    I had to hold back the tears while reading your post…your story is so raw, authentic, and beautiful. Thank you for being so brave and sharing!!

  4. Katie C

    How wonderfully universal while being the furthest thing from cliche. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Marilyn H.

    Thank you, Jillian, for sharing your story — you ARE very brave! My son shared your feelings when I told him I knew he was gay and that his family all loved him very much. He told me it felt like the world had been lifted from his shoulders. This was many years ago and Craig is gone now — it has been almost 23 long years since he died and I still miss him like it was yesterday! How fortunate for you that you have this wonderful network — it never would have even been thinkable when I was a student back in the “dark ages”. Be well!!

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