« Modern Love

My Secret Left Me Unable To Help | With Jessalyn Gilsig

2020-01-22 | 🔗

Love is about trust. But have you ever been tempted to breach that trust? To read someone's diary, check their text messages, or read their emails? Jessalyn Gilsig reads an essay by Joyce Maynard about facing that temptation.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Modern love. The pod cast is supported by produced by the island. At W b. You are faster oh the from the New York Times and WB. You are Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host magnetron puberty. The love is about trust, but have you have been tempted to breach that trust. To read someone's diary check their text messages read their email, is joint Maynard writes about a time when she faced that temptation. Her essay is called my secret left me unable to help.
It's red by gentlemen, Gill SIG, who has appeared on shows including glee, nip tuck and vikings as hard as it was sometimes caring for my children when they were little back in those days, I at least stood a reasonable chance of, acting my sons and daughter from pain and loss. The hard part hits later when fiercely you love this person and desperately, as you may worry, you can't come to your child's rescue. Worse what you imagined you were doing to protect her actually end up inflicting another form of injury, as my actions easily could have in what happened between my daughter and me. It was the fall of two thousand and one and the world felt like a particularly dangerous place, my children were grown and out on their own one son at college the other bumming around West Africa. to my daughter. Audrey had left to spend six.
Volunteering with a women's organization in a poor town in the Dominican Republic, not lol, after all, just started living in Barcelona. She email that you met a young man Johnny, who ran a kind of taxi service offering rides on the back of his motorcycle. He had given her lift She didn't tell me much, but I knew Johnny come to the Dominican Republic from Haiti in search of a better life. Audrey said he was handsome smart funny, a great dancer and wonderful to her Within a month she wrote to say she was in love, then nothing unable to reach Audrey, I rented room. I sent breezy news reports, casual questions, House Johnny. Then I'm worried
Finally, I tracked her down by calling the neighbor's house even on that line filled with static. I could something was wrong. Her voice usually so lively sounded wary and defensive? I just can't talk now. There's a lot going on weeks, passed more silence, or almost worse flat. Sound in one line, email messages will write later. Don't worry but I worried all the time now. Even then, when I got the message from my son in Africa, I'm over the so the malaria. Now he was writing to me at least from Audrey nothing in early spring, six months, since I had seen her last, I dreamed my
It was running down a dirt road with a long braid flying behind her and her face a mask of grief. The dream felt real, That morning I knew what I would do, though I feared my but might never forgive me. For years I had known the password to her email account, but never used it now hands trembling on the keyboard. I typed it in slowly then in messages she had written to friends story unfolded. She and Johnny had gone for their HIV test. That December, two weeks later, a clean bill of Health for Audrey, but the man my daughter, believed to be the love of her life was HIV positive
then for an undocumented haitian living in the Dominican Republic. The medical services necessary to keep them alive would be available only at a cost. Beyond his means, it got worse. They had mostly been careful, but not one hundred percent and the test results. Audrey God could not be viewed as accurate and, Three months have passed feeling as though the room was on fire. I scroll to the messages my daughter had written over the weeks since then It will letters to the american embassy inquiring about Johnny emigrating to the United States. If he were married to an american citizen letters inquiring about the options for treatment for both of them back home. If she came home, but for the moment Audrey was still living Johnny loving a man with whom she could not make love uncertain of her own health. All I wanted reading this news was to jump on the first plane.
the Dominican Republic throw my arms around my daughter only to do so. I would have to admit to having done this terrible thing when I was a young, my mother read my diary and though I loved my mother, I don't think I ever forgave her now I had opened, Your daughter's email account, so I could know the truth and the truth had brought nothing but terror and the awareness of my own powerlessness, two months after discovering her secret, I broke into my daughter's email account one last time that was the day I learned she'd had the second HIV test and was okay. I promised myself. I would never again violate her that way.
soon. I picked up at the airport. Look different from the one I put on the plane. Eight months before Audrey had been to a place that no one in our family would ever know a fully be able to imagine, as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge to our comfortable Marine County home, It appeared to me as though my daughter, the most hopeful person I knew, was not just tired but weary of life. In the days that followed, she told her brothers and me little of her time. ride and almost nothing of Johnny or the one room shack. They had shared the one day. She call them and afterward her face was streaked with tears. I had recently purchased a twenty year, Mercedes Convertible, my first non mom car now I made Audrey a proposal to take a road trip top down all the way up the coast to the border of.
Number I was headed to see the man who was my boyfriend, though really the me destination that mattered to me was reaching what I took to be the dark and broken place in my daughter's heart. If she would, tell me what I already knew. I could offer comfort at last. but she was understandably dubious about this trip. We had a history of stormy times ITALY when traveling. I don't at this plan, Mama, she said you like being mellow for a while, I told her we take as long as we wanted, so we Patrick Ear and hit the road we had. Hiking shoes, backpacks maps to hot springs, some of her music some of mine north. We went through Mendocino and into Oregon, afternoon. We sat naked in a hot spring for nearly three hours in silence on the Oregon coast. We took off our shoes and ran on the dunes.
stated a tourist cabin in Washington, where I bought Adria painted fungus of a cabin by field in the woods that reminded us of our old House in New Hampshire, the simple days. That's how I remember them. And then we were within an hour of our destination. The ferry in Port Townsend, Washington, Adrian, I would say goodbye. She was taking a bus south to visit college friends, though I imagine that her are old life felt very distant now. Even now I can picture the stretcher
We were driving at that moment, and I remember the ballad Van Morrison was singing as we traveled it. I want to tell you something Mamma. She said it might make him mad. There's nothing. You can't say to me: I told her gathering breath. This is a very hard thing. I pulled the car over onto the shoulder and turned off the engine. I held my daughter s hand and I felt the beating of my heart back in the winter. She began.
Johnny and I took the test. There was not a lot to be said. I told her. I do whatever I could to help, but I knew the problems my daughter had faced. Those last months were no longer. The kind of parent can fix the ferry at port. Townsend was next to the place where Audrey would catch the bus, so we rode together right up to the landing out of the trunk of the Mercedes I lifted her backpack and hat the painted fungus, a bag of raw almonds for the long bus ride into twenty dollars bills. All the things a mother gives her child when there was something else the child needs, that's nowhere to be found after we said goodbye, I drove the car onto the ferry and climbed out, so I could stand on deck as a boat motor out of the harbor. It would take six years for me to tell my daughter how I broken into her email
count. Understandably, she felt betrayed she managed to forgive me not only forgive me, but allow me to tell the story fiercely loyal as she is to the suffering people of Haiti. She asked that I clarified it was in the Dominican Republic, not in Haiti. The Johnny contracted HIV, not all the bad things in the Caribbean Happen in Haiti. She remained and one more thing she would say after hearing me just my anguish over those many months and my obsession with making everything all right for her. When, of course, I couldn't
Was it really that broken person you pictured by the time I got home from my time in the DR I I'd through a lot of the most difficult parts of this experience. I was in a stronger place for the lessons I've learned over the years since Audrey has gone three times to Haiti. She has a company Johnny to Dr Paul farmers, life, Eden Clinic in the mountains and Johnny is alive. She has fallen in love a few times gone to graduate school to pursue the path of school counseling this summer. She will return once more to port au. Prince You don't need to try and fix my life anymore mama. She tells me I can You know that part of my own. It is a lesson
long in the learning, though the first intimation of this came to me that summer day, seven years ago, when I stood on the deck of the fairy to catch a last glimpse of my daughter waving to me from the shore, with her pink hat and long braid and her wide bright smile, we stood that way waving. For a long time as the boat moves steadily away from land, she in one country I heading toward another until she was just a dot on the horizon same as I must have been to her.
The US to live our lives. The gentle and Gill cig reading Joyce Maynard as a my secret left me unable to help will catch up with Joyce after the break.
I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together fight together, I mean sitting to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed in salary It may have happened again. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I always get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something like that.
me and my dad. We like to play spy together, and I wish her out. I it j see, K. P, o t Yeah now run nice I'm same is asking the digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at annoying times, dot com, Flash Games Joyce. nerds essay was published in two thousand and nine that she knows it doesn't show her at her best in my many years of writing about my life. I have learned that the richest in and most valuable stories are never the ones in which I am exhibiting I'm kind of exemplary or heroic behaviour there, really the moments when I'm flawed and. sometimes really screwing up and definitely human,
and this is one of those for sure I mean this is the story it's a mother hacking into her adult there's a male that doesn't get too much worse than that, and I I do Wait because I know that my readers- or in this case my listeners, have also been there. They may not have done that, but We all have those impulses, or at least a lot of us, do His daughter, Audrey wrote a response to her mother's essay. That response was published in eight and two thousand nine Audrey that initially she had some misgivings She knew that she could ask her. Mother not to publish the peace, but instead she decided to edit the essay with her mother Joyce says that now she thinks that her children have made peace with occasionally being the subject of her writing. Part of what I'm saying is we all on our store? I would not. I did not have the right to tell the story of Audrey's experience.
But what I always say to my writing- students- I I teach memoir is, one story and one story only that you totally own- and that is yours, the one that you lived. So this is the story of a young woman who discovers that day that they man, she's fallen in love with. Is HIV positive? It's the story of the mother of that young woman. That's the person whose point of view I inhabit and that's That's the story. I wrote as for whether Joyce regrets hacking into Audrey's email did bring into her email. Do anything for her. No, it probably did not I guess I did it selfishly. I could not bear You see an sighing and terror that I felt believing correctly as it turned out My daughter was in trouble, I logged in hope,
to find out that I was wrong. Instead, I logged in finding discovering that I was right. Audrey didn't need my help through that event. The only way that my actions perhaps changed anything was that I worked very hard after she came home to help her feel safe in telling me what had happened, I'd like to think that she would eventually told me anyway, but I made that space, and maybe, if I didn't know what had gone on been able to slow myself down the way I did to take that road trip that crisis. I will call it a crisis. Forced me to stop everything. Joyce lives in New Haven Connecticut now her daughter lives in New Hampshire and enjoy says that she's
to let Audrey live her own life. I think at its core: this is a story about. The very recognizable impulse of just about every parent to protect her or his child from pain and how impossible that yes and one of the differences between me and and me now with my children that many years older is that I know that I basically at this point. I am standing on the sidelines preying on occasion, but I I don't step in we're way past that point. Joyce Maynard she's, a writer and her latest book is a memoir of finding and losing her husband. It's called the best of us or webs,
it is Joyce Maynard dot com more after the break. I love spelling by five, and I often placed I can be together by together. I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open upscaling d- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own- I feel a little betrayed. In salary it may have happened again. I have one friend, who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words. Then I was get nervous. I sent it to my parents or something like that. Me and my dad. We like to play spy together, and I wish her out- I it J
a c k, p o t Yeah now run nice I'm same is risky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try, spelling bee and all our games at annoying times, dot com, flash games. Here's Daniel Jones, editor of the modern love column for the New York Times, there is so much going on in this essay. The there's so much just life and struggle and love and combativeness and just all the mess of life which I feel like Joyce right. So not so well. She He is perfectly willing to come clean, but her own failings, and transgressions and own up to them both in life and on paper. She wrestles with with the people
in her life and and sort of Russell's onto the page. These are just dicey, use and it's an essay that tackles head on and in really kudos to both mother and daughter in in skating such as terrain and coming out. The other end. Here's, Joscelyn Gill, saying the isn't. I chose this particular they from modern love is that I connected so much with It's struggle, a mother has, I think, honestly, from your child, is born. Realizing that, although you are on this earth to protect this child, you are also here to let them go and it's to me, when I have my daughter, it was perhaps the most sobering moment, was realizing that I had the incredible gift.
Bringing this person into the world, but really my task was to release her into her life, and I thought that this story captured that contemplation so well, and and also taught me that it's on ongoing process. And an ongoing challenge that probably never really ends, but is a part of being a parent. thanks again to just limb. For reading this week's essay Modern love is the production of the New York Times, and I will you be. You are Boston and PR station its produced, directed and edited by Caitlin Oki original scoring and sound design by Matt Reed Adler's, our executive producer additional help this week from Catherine Brewer. Daniel Jones is the editor of modern love for the New York Times, an adviser to the show the aid. For the modern love podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin Special. thanks to Julia Simon on Australian and merely at the New York Times additional media. courtesy of a pm. The tracker birdie by the way
my other job is hosting an NPR show called on point check it out: podcast feed will see you next week.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.