Revised with additions, edited – December, 2015
My poor mother. She had no idea what she was getting when I popped out.
Long after my stripping career was over, I had a conversation with mom on the telephone. I was in tears, coming clean – finally – declaring my life long struggle with drug addiction.
“Oh no no no dear, you’re not an addict, you just have an addictive personality”, she assured.
I was calling collect on a payphone from rehab.
We shared a laugh. Mine was directly at her denial (lovingly), and hers was nervous and self-assuring. It was at that exact moment when I realized – my mom may never accept the truth about her youngest daughter, and I needed to be okay with it.
We are not responsible for anybody’s thoughts or reactions (or happiness) but our own. – Rehab 101
It took years for me to confess my stripping world to mom. That it started at 19 years old, being an insecure, bright-eyed contestant in a local wet t-shirt contest. That I enjoyed the power of it all. How it started out filling me up with validation; each dollar bill, a wave of the magic beauty wand. And somehow along the near ten-year road of my six-inch stilettos working the thick blinking Plexiglass, my choices betrayed me. That I was – am – a drug addict; a cliché in every sense of the word.
Mom would eventually learn all those things, but it would take me writing a book about my story for her to fully grasp the timeline of my demise. How her bubbly, buck-toothed drama queen who lived in roller skates and rainbow-colored leotards could morph into a shell of her former self. Snorting lines of blow and bending over naked for money, how a 28-year-old burn out would eventually lock her lifeless eyes with herself in the dressing room mirror – confessing out loud – I think you’re done.
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 for as long as I could.
For years I kept my secret hidden (easy, with people who don’t want to see the truth). In her trusting naivety, mom believed I worked the flower circuit. I was a delight in her eyes, selling roses to love-struck tourists dining in five-star restaurants in Waikiki.
When I finally confessed to the ruse, mom began to cry. She blamed herself, and part of me was glad. The other part quickly played defence, wanting to pacify her pain.
“Geeez mom, it’s not like I’m totally naked!” This was a lie. Waikiki strippers were fully nude, but in my twenty-five year old mind, I thought serving her a half truth of “I’m just topless”, would somehow diminish the blow.
“Women in Europe are topless on the beach!” Even as I said the words, I knew my argument was ridiculous. I can’t imagine any mother of a stripper not suffocating on: where did I go wrong? – but that’s not my tale to share. My story is my own. The details of my mother’s struggles and missteps aren’t mine to unload or exploit.
It would have been easy to point my french-manicured acrylics at my mother all those years ago during my stripper confession. But blaming her for my self-destruction would’ve been like faulting the waiter for the jalapeno salsa that scorched my mouth. I may have had an idea of what I was getting into as I ordered, but the dish was just too tempting at the time.
Here’s the part where you tell me: Do you have any secrets you kept (or are still keeping) from your mom?
16 thoughts on “Does your mother know: confessions of a stripper”
My oh my, how this hit home. When I finally realized that getting healthy meant, to some degree, being honest with certain people, I cringed at the thought of having to share with my mother that I had been an anorexic, bulimic, abusive relationship-ridden, meth addicted escort. I had to learn that owning my own stuff meant letting my mom own hers … and giving my mother back the responsibility to feel and deal with her own feelings was important. I also had to learn that my mother was not safe and didn’t need to know everything … What freedom there was in that 🙂
So amazed, proud of, and inspired by you. That is awesome. Thanks for commenting your Truth. xxoo
This was powerful to read. You sound like a very brave, real woman–your sensitivity towards your mother’s feelings is understandable. I come from a very waspy family, so if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist–or need fixing. I never told my parents I got kicked out of college–I didn’t tranfer, I was “dismissed.” That’s the horrible word they use in your Get-the-fuck-outta-here letter.
But, in the end it drove me to work harder, spend some time fixing issues, and graduating from a better school, with a better English program. In a way, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. But I still can’t tell her. It would kill her.
Wow – that’s a huge thing to keep bottled up, and I love how you made it work for you!
Thanks for the comment and compliment. I too, come from a family of “under the rug” sweepers. Isn’t it freeing to take that sucker out, roll it up and toss? Maybe that’s why I prefer hard wood flooring.
In a word, yeah.
But Mom wasn’t naive. So just because I never fessed up doesn’t mean she didn’t know.
Now that she’s gone (she’d be 98 now), all I can do is promise I won’t do that any more… whatever it is.
I think it’s more common than we realize – our moms are privy to our little (or big) shennanegins. I was sucha master manipulator and liar, so with that, and her denial, she never stood a chance.
My situation was different. Mine were over-bearing, strict, and brutally honest. It helped me short term (i became the first person in my entire family to graduate college) but long term, I have no relationship with them.
It’s funny how our parents, especially mothers view us. I wonder if they know the reality and just ignore it?
Congratulations on being the first college graduate in your family. That’s amazing.
I wonder that, too. It must be heart-wrenching to face the truth about your kids’ mistakes. I know my mom takes it as a personal result of parenting.
I’m not a parent, but I can only imagine how hard it is.
At least your Mom accepted you throughout, and didn’t cut you off.
Even if she was in denial, there’s something to be said for that, I think…
She did. If anything, I rejected her back then. But the night I walked out of the club for good, I called her on a payphone just outside the front doors, and she invited me over for dinner – no questions. That will always be one of the defining moments of my life.
I gott run. Oprah just texted, asking me to shut the fuck up.
Oh, how I adore you and your fresh, honest writing. I’ve missed our regular conversations 🙂 I don’t have any secrets from my mom or anyone. Which can sometimes make others uncomfortable. Sound familiar? I find admitting things just gets it out and done with. If I say it, it isn’t bad anymore. If I keep it a secret, it must be seriously jacked up.
I’ve missed you, too, beauty! Ha! Yes, not have any secrets – what the hell is wrong with you. I adore your honesty, and must say – your mama raised you well.
I kept secrets from mine because she was so overprotective. They weren’t even scandalous – I just knew she’d freak if she heard them. Now I straddle a fence between loving to shock her with certain information (I’m sure I need therapy because I find this so entertaining) and holding things back – primarily secrets about friends because she gets really judgmental. My sister on the other hand… Just being in her presence is like being gassed with truth serum. I can’t seem to keep anything from her.
“Just being in her presence is like being gassed with truth serum.” – oh how many of us relate!!
I’m amazed I missed this given that I pop along nearly every weekend (did I reall say nearly ? Who am I kidding ?) I read it today and thought – “there’s something my mum should know” so rang her to say “there’s something you should know about me mum, which is kindof important” then I took a deep breath and told her I was trans. OMG !!! never have I read anything more apt than the sentence
“mum doesn’t quite want to believe it all. ……… she’d much rather I leave it all behind. But she knows me better than that”
now all I need is the follow on article…. “the cats out the bag, what next !!!”
You are the bravest woman out there! I adore your strength and you are an inspiration. xxoo