My Two Secrets — a guest post by Jocelyn Green (and a give-away)

This is my friend, Jocelyn Green. She's an author, speaker, mom, wife, and all around cool kid. I hope this post encourages you as much as it did me.

This is my friend, Jocelyn Green. She’s an author, speaker, mom, wife, and all around cool kid. I hope this post encourages you as much as it did me.

When I began writing Spy of Richmond, I had no idea I’d learn for myself what it meant to keep a gigantic secret from everyone I loved. My heroine’s secret, of course, was that she was a spy. My secret? My husband had cancer.

We thought it was just a lump on his clavicle. A very painful, swollen, hot-to-the-touch and out-of-nowhere lump. Even as they wheeled him into the operating room to remove it, the word “tumor” did not occur to me. So when the surgeon came to consult with me afterwards and said the tumor was too large to remove, I was completely caught off guard.

“We’re sending a sample to the lab,” he told me, “but if I were you, I’d want to know what we’re dealing with here. Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer.”

I jerked backwards, as if his words had slapped me across the face.

“I see this all the time,” he continued. “It’s a textbook case.” More words.  Chemotherapy . . Meet with the cancer team on Friday to get his treatment plan together. . .

I was crying by now. “Are you going to tell Rob? Am I supposed to tell him?”

“No, I don’t want to tell him until the labs are in. But you need to process this now so you can support him when the time comes.”

Well, if I wasn’t to tell Rob, then I wasn’t going to tell anyone. This was my first secret.

I went through the motions of life, holding the ugly news close to my heart until it bore a hole right through it. At the pharmacy, picking up Rob’s post-surgery prescriptions, I couldn’t bear to answer the cheerful question, “How are you?” On Facebook, someone asked Rob if the doctor said anything about cancer. Rob said no. My secret gnawed through my middle.

Then the phone call came: no cancer cells were detected. The mass was completely benign. This was the first time the doctor had been wrong, the nurse told me. I was stunned. After I hung up the phone I told Rob, “It isn’t cancer,” and started sobbing. “They told me it was cancer,” I choked out. It felt like a miracle to me, and suddenly the only thing that mattered was that Rob was going to be OK.

Still, recovery from that surgery was very challenging. Because of the depth and width of the incision, he needed follow-up appointments at the wound care clinic for weeks, and I was in charge of changing his dressings a few times a day at home, which was painful for him, and distressing to me. Add to this the fact that he developed a dependence on his narcotic and went through a terrible withdrawal.

A month or so after Rob’s surgery, our family took a mini-vacation, and I cracked my toe on a deck chair at the side of the hotel pool. Really hard. It hurt like the dickens, but I wasn’t about to complain. After all, look at what Rob is still going through! I thought. This is nothing. So we carried on, walking around the Science Museum that night and around the zoo the next day. My toe was killing me, but since it was nothing “compared to Rob,” I tried to deny the pain.

Weeks later, I still was limping. I finally went to the doctor, where an x-ray revealed I’d broken my toe. This, then, had been my second secret, one I had tried to keep even from myself. The truth of the matter—my secret—was that I was in pain. The lie that I had chanted to myself to drown out the truth, was that because my pain was less than someone else’s, my pain was invalid, and did not deserve attention. The lie was that acknowledging my own pain would be a wimpy thing to do.

Don’t we all deny our own pain sometimes?

But here’s the thing about pain, whether it’s physical or emotional. It’s real, even if/though someone else is currently suffering more than you are. Comparing burdens is useless. Pain is a sign that something is wrong. And only when we acknowledge that something is wrong will we be able to fix it.

I have this hunch that at least some of you are experiencing pain today. Hear this: your pain is real, and you are not weak for seeking help. What you’re feeling is valid. Don’t tell yourself that because someone else has it worse, you should be fine. C.S. Lewis once called pain the gift that no one wants. Pain is a message that we are not whole, and that we should be. Pain says something needs to change in order for us to feel better. But we have to be honest about it before we can get on the path to healing.

It’s a delicate balance, but one worth striving for. Let’s be grateful for the blessings we do have, but please, let’s not walk around on broken toes.

Don't miss out on this incredible sale price for all four of Jocelyn's novels. I've read every word of them and they are wonderful. These characters are tough cookies. Go on and get your downloads! Just click this picture!

Don’t miss out on this incredible sale price for all four of Jocelyn’s novels. I’ve read every word of them and they are wonderful. These characters are tough cookies. Go on and get your downloads! Just click this picture!

Don’t Click Away Just Yet! Jocelyn has offered to give-away one of the Heroines Behind the Lines books to one lucky reader. You pick the book (see the graphic above for the titles) and if you’d like a digital or paper copy. All you’ve got to do is tell me in the comments which you’d choose. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday and announce it on the Monday blog. Ready? Steady? GO, Eddie!

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52 thoughts on “My Two Secrets — a guest post by Jocelyn Green (and a give-away)

  1. Oh, Jocelyn. This post made me weep. My husband also has a secret. One he knows about and I know about, but which I have not been comfortable revealing to anyone except two close female friends. The rest, including family, have no idea, and it sucks. It informs every decision we make, every day of our lives. And it really hurts.

    I am not asking for therapy here, because I have a wonderful therapist that we both see, and she helps immensely. But I just wanted you to know that this post touched me in a very deep place in my heart.

    Because of what you and I have been through, and are still going through or will go through, we are uniquely equipped to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) I think you are doing a beautiful job of that, and I cannot wait to read your novels.

    Comforting others also is a big part of my mission as a writer these days. I say on my website, “The common thread in all of my writing is my attempt to bring a voice of reason, humor and compassion into the suffering I see within reach and experience myself.”

    Because I can’t do anything else with the hurt! I literally cannot. I’ve tried everything else. Nothing else works.

    Like

    • Rachel, your comment made me cry, too. Bearing that type of secret, long-term, even from family must be so incredibly painful. I can only imagine. How wonderful that you’re using your experience to speak into the hearts of others with humor, compassion, and grace. What a worthy mission for your writing! I pray God blesses you richly, and others richly through you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Jocelyn. Right back atcha. I have a hunch you’re a big reader. If you like the idea of using humor to spread comfort amid pain, I recommend Stella Gibbons’ first novel, “Cold Comfort Farm,” a parody of the early 20th century trend of brutal, rural tragedies, such as “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” It’s been scratching that itch for me, and I have been savoring it slowly, trying to take a lesson from it for my own writing.

        Like

  2. Also, because I have such a connection to those who must hide secrets, I would like to enter to win a free (paper) copy of “The Spy of Richmond.” Thanks for doing this, Susie/Jocelyn. What a generous plan.

    Like

  3. Also, just so you know, I wanted so bad to share this post — even did, before I slowed down enough to think it through — but I reconsidered after thinking about how that might make my husband feel. It’s so hard! It’s been 2.5 years and I still haven’t figured out how to balance the need for helping others with the need to respect his privacy.

    Any tips on that, Jocelyn?

    Like

    • That’s a great question, Rachel. I think you’re right to keep the first priority protecting his privacy, which is hard to do online unless we are very, very careful, just like you are being. I’m not sure there is a formula for how to strike the balance. Just evaluate things on a case-by-case basis–which can be exhausting.

      I will say that I have a solution for this immediate dilemma of sharing this blog post. Hold off on sharing this one since you’ve disclosed some about your own situation. But in a few weeks, I’ll repost this on my own Web site at jocelyngreen.com, and none of your comments will be there. So if you hop over to my blog and subscribe, eventually you’ll see this post pop up, and then you can share it without concern. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We all have secrets, we all have pain, but if we are transparent, our secret, our pain can help someone with their
    burden. I own all four books already, but just wanted to comment. Great post.

    Like

      • I think this is true to a certain extent. But sometimes, unfortunately, the secret is not your own to share. And you have to know when to wait and pray that someday you WILL be able to share it. That’s what I’m currently praying for. For my husband to feel the freedom to allow himself and me to both share our story, together, without shame, and to help others.

        Like

  5. Thank you so much for sharing, I really really needed this today!! I’d love to receive a paperback copy of Wedded to War….Thanks again!!

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  6. SUCH a powerful post – and I have SO been there with my own husband’s illness – and keeping secrets. I was asked by my parents to keep my salvation a secret from my great-aunt Binney – she was raised Jewish (as was my entire family) and would probably have taken it VERY hard. It completely changed our relationship. Used to talk to her on the phone ALL the time – was like a dear friend. But once I couldn’t share that, our conversations became so VERY different – estranged. I often wonder if she noticed – she was in her late 80s when it happened (and we were living across the country from each other), and died probably 3-4 years later.

    And, I read the fabulous Wedded to War when it first came out – and I have been out of the inspy fic arena pretty much since – can’t BELIEVE there are three more now! I’m going to have to ask for book 2 – Widow of Gettysburg – for that reason – Kindle version would be lovely.

    Thanks to BOTH of you ladies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joanne, you’ve hit upon a difficult truth here, which is that keeping secrets changes us. It changes our relationships, and sometimes it just can’t be helped, as in your case. I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

      I do hope you get a chance to read the rest of the series soon! Good luck in this drawing, and also keep in mind all the ebooks are on sale for a few dollars each until May 3!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can so relate to the keeping secrets – very similar situation to Jocelyn. My husband had a grand mal seizure out of the blue about 5 1/2 years ago. After doing MRIs, CT-Scans and other tests – they did spot a small tumor near the motor strip in his brain. The doc pulled me into the hall and told me that it was most likely a cancerous tumor, but not to tell my husband yet. Thankfully I only had to keep that secret a few days before another doc talked with my husband and told him. It does eat away at you. My husband dealt with that much better than I did. They never did a biopsy because of the location of the tumor – they said it more than likely would have left him paralyzed. Praise God, he is fine now – 3 months after the initial tests, he had another MRI and the tumor was completely gone and remained gone on the next few scans and he hasn’t had any problems since.

    I just finished reading “Wedded to War” – I think you had recommended it for Spring Break reading 🙂 Loved it! So, if I win, I would like a paper copy of “Widow of Gettysburg”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my word, Shannon!! I can only imagine how awful keeping that secret was for you. Praise the Lord the tumor is now gone! Such a roller coaster ride!

      Thank you so much for reading Wedded to War, too! Hope you enjoy Widow whenever you get a chance to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jocelyn, thank you for being brave and sharing your secrets here with us. Yours is a powerful message.

    I love your books and would be thrilled to receive a paper copy of Spy of Richmond.

    Like

  9. Seriously, what a wonderful reminder. We have all been hurt, or we will be, or we are. Ignoring it will get us nowhere. We must deal with it so we can heal. As a pastor’s wife, I feel like a lot of times, I’m not allowed to hurt, but the truth of the matter is that we can’t help others until we are making sure we are well, ourselves. Thank you for sharing this!

    I’ve never read your books, so I’d want to start with the first one. I’m still an old-fashioned book reader. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linds, I understand. After we left our jobs at a church, I didn’t feel like I could even talk about the hurt without being called a gossip. I still feel that way after 5 years. It’s a difficult balance.

      I think you’d like these books a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Like Jocelyn, I’m also sad to hear this. I haven’t worked in a church but worked in camp ministry for several years, and it came with plenty of hurts. My heart says “hug” to your heart. You can talk about it with me privately anytime you want, and I won’t think you’re gossiping.

        Like

  10. I loved this post. I’m a hider of pain and a comparer of agony–I don’t really say much because what is my loneliness from a two-week TDY when a friend’s husband has been gone for a year? Or what is my pain from ear surgery compared to a terminal cancer diagnosis? Or a broken pinkie toe compared to a divorce? So I clam up and I don’t share and I keep secrets, and they eat me up inside. I’m glad you shared; perhaps next time I’ll be more open. It’s hard, though. (PS: It would mean more to me that you gift someone else with the book if my number comes up; if I get one more book before our cross-continental move, it might cause strife at home!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pattie, I’m a former military wife myself, and I saw this ALL the time. Even now when I speak to milwives, women will come up to me afterwards and say things like, “This is just a 9-month deployment, and I know there are some who have 18-month deployments….” But it is enough to say, “This is a 9-month deployment, and it’s hard.” Period. And a 2-week TDY is enough for you to be lonely. Period. I totally understand where you’re coming from, though. In my case, being more honest about my own pain started with being honest with myself. We need to give ourselves permission to say, “This is a bad day. I’m not OK right now.” I think that’s where we need to start. And then, if you can be honest with someone else, choose carefully. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This was one of those heart wrenching blog features, that brings tears to my eyes and a tightness in my chest. Just to think that a sweet young family has been undergoing this type of challenge breaks my heart. To come out of it with such a positive attitude is heartwarming! Great blog post today, girlfriends! I know the story all too well myself. Have been in the valleys on more than one occasion. God bless you both!

    If I would be so lucky to be chosen for a copy of one of Jocelyn’s books, it would be a paperback copy of “Spy of Richmond,” the only one in the series that I don’t own. Thank you for offering not only a picture into the secrets of your life, Jocelyn, but for offering a copy of one of your books!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancee, you’re such a gem. You have such a compassionate heart. Some people are hardened by their valleys. You seem to be softened by them, in the best way possible–you’re so tender and empathetic to the hurts and needs of others. I’m blessed to know you!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Thank you. My Husband has dealt with severe chronic pain for almost 18 years from an accident, and I can’t count how many times I have shunned my own pain comparing it to his… I have also struggled with a lot of emotional pain as I watch him hurt so much and see how it has affected our family. There have been secrets as well along the way and it can become overwhelming…. thank you for sharing this. You have lifted my spirits and I am so very grateful! Thank you Susie for sharing Jocelyn with us!

    Oh and I’d love a paper copy of Spy of Richmond if you draw me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kathi, oh goodness, eighteen years of chronic pain.. and I bet it feels like longer, for both him and for you. What a great way to put it when you said you “shunned” your pain. So sad, but I can see how that would happen! I’m so thrilled that this post lifted your spirits a little today. Best wishes in the drawing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This thread exploded with life since last I checked in on it. I’m so tickled to be reading all of these stories, because we are sharing our pain and helping each other. Women are great, blogs are wonderful, and God is awesome!

    Like

  15. Wedded to war!

    Thank you for the beautiful story you gave us! I was trying to prepare myself for the rest of the story and them God’s grace came through!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m battling leukemia right now – and God is loving and faithful so I really am as fine as I can be right now – so I have people try to dismiss their pain to me all the time.
    “I’ve had this really miserable cold for 5 weeks,” they say in a mournful tone. Then hastily backing up, “But it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through!”
    My response is always that there is no comparison in pain or trauma. My bad is bad to me. Your bad is bad to you. And who’s to say whose bad is worse? Certainly not me! Pain can only be defined by the recipient/experiencer, not by someone on the outside.
    If using my cancer helps someone gain perspective on their life, then to God be the glory. But if using my cancer becomes a way for someone to say they aren’t worthy of compassion, then they have bought in to the agenda of the father of lies.

    I’m not reading new fiction right now – I’m conserving brain energy along with every other kind as I prep for a bone marrow transplant in a couple weeks – but I’d love to add your first book in whatever format to my growing stack of fun stuff to read when I have my whole brain back again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t tell you how much I love this: “If using my cancer helps someone gain perspective on their life, then to God be the glory. But if using my cancer becomes a way for someone to say they aren’t worthy of compassion, then they have bought in to the agenda of the father of lies.”

      THANKS for the great perspective. I pray that the bone marrow transplant goes well for you, with no complications! So glad you chimed in here today.

      Liked by 2 people

    • moseylissa, I don’t know you, but I am moved by your perspective. May I share two columns with you (or anyone else in this thread who has the energy to read, if it’s not you): These were written by a former colleague, dear friend and MLive columnist who battles non-Hodgkin lymphoma and has been in and out of remission, Sue Schroder. Her column, “Living with Cancer,” moves me on a regular basis.

      Two years ago, she wrote about the Ring Theory, which basically is a theory that says, “You only get to complain to the people who are battling smaller troubles than your own.” Those people are in a “smaller ring of trouble,” and therefore will not be offended by your struggle to suffer well.

      She wrote the initial column, “How Not to Say the Wrong Thing,” here: http://bit.ly/1dxPafE

      And then a reader chimed in and disagreed with her, saying it’s ridiculous to judge the concern people show you as insensitive, even if it’s clumsily worded, so Sue responded with a new column, “Three-time Survivor: Silence Wounds as Clumsy Compassion Never Could”: http://bit.ly/1KxSfXZ

      Thanks for sharing your story. It gave me the opportunity to reread and share these beautiful insights from a dear fellow writer-friend. 🙂

      Like

  17. I think when we hide things, it robs our loved ones of the opportunity to pray for us. Which is what we are called to do! I know, been there done that….I don’t want to be a bother or I think it’s no big deal. In reality it is, we need each other and God wants to work through us. So let’s be real with each other so we can have help lightening the burden!
    As far as the book’s, I’d start at the beginning 🙂 Thank you for the chance to win!

    Like

  18. Pingback: When You’re Weary, Feeling Small | Susie Finkbeiner

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