Mom, I have a secret: confessions of a wayward stripper
My poor mother. She had no idea what she was getting when I popped out.
I mean, who wants to learn their youngest daughter - the plucky, free spirited one with so much promise - is a stripper with a drug problem?
I always found the phrase "drug problem" funny. Isn't the whole drug-taking behavior a problem? Is there a secret society of addicts running around town claiming they have a "drug solution"? Oh that's right, there is - and their mascot is Denial.
I remember a conversation with my mom on the phone when I relapsed (this time with Xanax) so many years after retiring from the stripper pole. I was in tears, declaring my drug addiction.
"Oh, no dear, you're not an addict, you just have an addictive personality."
I was calling collect, from a payphone in rehab.
We shared a laugh; mine was directly at her denial (lovingly), and hers was nervous, and self-assuring. It was at that moment when I realized - my mom may never accept the truth about her daughter, and I was okay with that. We can't be responsible for anybody's thoughts or reactions (or happiness) but our own.
It took me years to confess the whole stripping thing to mom.
To the outside world I was unapologetic and brash. But underneath the audacious bravado, lived a little girl, still wanting to make her mama proud. Knowing my career choice didn’t cater to this cause, I protected her from the truth. No matter how desensitized I was to the world I chose, I still respected and loved my mother.
For years I kept my secret hidden (which is easy to do with people who don't want to see the truth). In her trusting naivety, mom believed I worked the flower circuit, selling roses to love-struck tourists in the Waikiki night clubs. I had a friend who actually did this, so when asked about work, there was a vast arsenal of shop talk prepared.
I don't remember exact details of how I told my mother her baby girl was a stripper, but I do know I tried to ease her mind. I remember her crying, knowing she blamed herself.
"Geez, it's not like I am naked, mom!" Lie. As if topless dancing was less of a blow. "Women in Europe are topless in public, on the beach!" So defensive, playing the 'don't be so unworldly' card. Anything to pacify her pain.
My family history is far from functional, but I take complete responsibility for my choices. It would've been easy to point my French-manicured acrylics at my mother, but the reasons I became a stripper are far more complex.
Even now, as I write my story, mom doesn't quite want to belive it all. Although she understands why I want to help others in sharing my truth, she'd much rather I leave it all behind. But she knows me better than that.