Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Mother Had a Secret by Tiffany Fletcher

We've all got skeletons in our closet, things we don't want others to know about us.  Some are small little collections of bones, barely worth the embarrassment, and others are huge, rattling things that haunt our dreams and affect our lives.  In "Mother Had a Secret," author Tiffany Fletcher tells the story of the skeletons in her closet, and how they could have destroyed the entire family.

Vickie, Tiffany's mother, had been severely abused as a child, physically and sexually, by her father.  Her mother not only knew, but stood by and did nothing about it.  In order to cope with the trauma, Vickie developed other personalities who would take the brunt of it for her.  It was the only way she could handle the life she was being forced to live.

As Tiffany grew up, she knew her mother had "moods." Sometimes Vickie was sweet and loving, but other times, she was angry and violent.  Her family never knew what would trigger one of her outbursts.  They learned to tiptoe around her.  But after a car accident, when she was forced to undergo medical treatment, the truth came out - she was dealing with different personalities.  This condition today is called "dissociative identity disorder," while in the past, it was just said that a person had a split personality.

Now Tiffany and her siblings knew why their mother was the way she was.  In some ways, it made their lives easier - having an explanation can make all the difference.  Yet in some ways, it was harder.  Little by little, they began to chip away at the mystery that was their mother.  They spoke to her different personalities, learned their names, and discovered what role they each played in their mother's life, from that of protector to that of scared little child, just wanting love.

This book is different from others you might read on the same topic.  Others tend to focus on the nature of the abuse that led to the splitting of the personalities, often going into gruesome detail.  This narrative, on the other hand, focuses on the effect the experience had on Vickie's family and how they learned to cope, achieve forgiveness, and find a path toward healing.  We know what caused Vickie's condition, but only on a surface level as we instead seek the light and hope in the situation.

I will confess, the bulk of what I knew ... or thought I knew ... about this condition came from my mother's soap opera addiction when I was a child.  I was intrigued by this story told by a person who had really experienced this in their family, so I could learn the true nature of the condition and come to a better understanding of what these people, and their families, suffer.  I applaud the author for having the courage to bring those skeletons out of the closet and use her experiences to help others in her situation find hope, and to help those of us who are bystanders to be more compassionate about things we may not fully understand.

This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for my review, which did not influence my opinion.

1 comment:

Shari said...

Thanks for the review. It sounds like an interesting book.

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