PostSecret Community

Follow-up Stories

Please consider sharing a follow-up story about how mailing in a secret, or reading someone else's, made a difference in your life.


Dear Frank,

Do you know that I left my boyfriend of a year and a half because of the postcard that read, "His temper is so scary, I've lost all my opinions." It hadn't even occurred to me what was happening and it took a total stranger writing it down to make me realize what the hell was going on in my life. I can not thank you enough for making things so much clearer. It was the smartest thing I have done in a long time!





Thought I would send you one of those "follow-up messages" that you encourage on your site.

Let me start with how I came to send you my postal card in the first place. About two years ago I was seeing this Nice Girl who was on the pill. Despite this, I took "extra precautions" which rather put her off. Even though we had a very good relationship, this was a source of friction between us until, finally, late one night, she confronted me about it and demanded to know why I was so careful. So I told her.

I told her that years before I had been profoundly in love with a woman who, in the course of our relationship, and largely through my carelessness, got pregnant. She was young, just beginning her career, and so she told me she was going to do the smart thing and take care of it. I did nothing. She had an abortion. Soon, however, we realized the enormity of what we had done. We dared not discuss it. We loved each other yet, deep inside without ever saying it, we both deeply regretted that we had killed our child. This came to poison our relationship. We each blamed ourselves for the awful thing that we had done and, when she got a fat job offer in LA, she left. We both knew, though we dared not say it, that the only way she could get away from the abortion was to get away from me and get away from Chicago. Not a day has gone by since that I have not grieved for our child. Not a morning has gone by that I have not begged God to put the whole of the guilt of this upon me and spare her. It was simply the worst thing I have ever done in my life.

So, late one night, I told this to the Nice Girl. I had never told this to anyone and, forced to put my feelings into words, I broke down utterly in front of her. I was a sobbing wreck, but I got the story out.
It was quite a catharsis for both of us, and the Nice Girl told me that I would have to, somehow, forgive myself for having done this if I ever wanted to be a "whole person." In fact, she had a plan. She wanted me to mail in a postal card to your site, expressing my anguish and regret, exposing myself publicly so that I might finally cast off my shame and begin again.

I thought it over. The Nice Girl was prepared to give me some time to think about this before acting, but inspiration overtook me immediately and, the very next day, I had a vision of exactly what I wanted to say.
It took me a while to search the internet to find the images, and then my computer program would not allow me to assemble them, so I had to print them out separately and cut and paste them together, but within a few days I had made two identical postal cards.

(To jog your memory: my card shows the famous photograph of the Saigon police shooting an NVA guerrilla fighter in the head during the Tet Offensive, except that I have substituted the baby head of a Kewpie Doll for the victim, and I wrote "I will never forgive myself for letting her get the

I sent one to you and the other I sent to the Nice Girl.

She was over-joyed. She told me that she loved me and that she had held back on telling me this because my emotional responses to her "moved with glacial speed."
But now she felt that there had been a real break-through, that I had finally "taken ownership of my feelings" and acted upon them. I confessed that I loved her too and, despite enormous difficulties that lay in front of us, we began to discuss the things in life that really mattered: marriage, children, companionship through eld and death.

And then my card did not appear on your blog.

At first this just heightened our anticipation. We figured that you must have a few weeks back-log of cards to clear out before you got to mine. Then the Nice Girl began to wonder aloud if my card had not got lost in the mail. Then, after perhaps two months, she out-and-out accused me of not having sent you the card at all. We had quite a row about it.

The path of love in never smooth, but this suddenly became a huge impediment. The "fact" that I had never mailed the card to you now became "evidence" that I was still in love with the other woman. The "fact"
that I had never mailed the card to you now indicated that I was not interested in "clearing up" this trauma, but instead, wished to dwell upon it. The "fact" that I had never mailed the card to you was prima-facie evidence that I did not love the Nice Girl.

I'm not going to say that this was the only factor that caused our break-up. When Lindbergh was leaving on his immortal trip across the Atlantic, the reporters wanted a picture of his mother giving him one last hug, but she refused: "We're Swedish, we don't do that." And I am from that same Nordic stock: distant, un-demonstrative, yet granite hard in our affections. The Nice Girl, on the other hand, was Italian, demonstrative, unconstrained, effusive, much put off by my northern reserve. I wished to resolve the very real material difficulties of our situation before wedding and starting a family, but she wanted to begin right away regardless of our circumstances. All my reservations, all my prudence, all my forethought, she took as reluctance.

And, of course, I HAD NEVER MAILED THE POSTAL CARD, had never consummated the catharsis that we had experienced on that fateful night.

So we broke up.

It's been a while and the wound is not fresh. My heart feels more of a dull ache nowadays than the sharp cut it felt when our rupture was new. At least, the sensation was not keen until yesterday.

You see, yesterday I was in a bookstore when I saw your volume: "The Secret Lives of Men and Woman."
Now, ever since the Nice Girl had hepped me onto your stuff I have found it amusing, so naturally, I began to flip through the book. Imagine my shock when I saw my postal card on a two-page spread. My card - THAT HAD NEVER BEEN POSTED ON YOUR SITE - my trauma before me in a full-color two-page spread. A coup de pied right to the gut.

I stood there for some time, perhaps a quarter-hour, trying to recover from the blow. I thought for a moment of buying the book, showing it to the Nice Girl, just to prove at last my earnestness to her. But then I decided against it.

After all - why should I allow my betrayer to profit from my anguish?

Yours For A Better World.




-----Email Message-----
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2008 5:13 AM
Subject: An old secret revisited

Dear Frank,

The other day I was using a search engine to try to find an old secret that I had found very moving. While looking through the images I found a link to a blog containing my secret that I had sent in a little over year ago. My secret was: "being able to survive it doesn't mean it was ever ok..."

The person wrote the following in reaction to my secret: "This quote, part of a PostSecret postcard this week, has been resonating within me since I read it. It makes me want to cry. And scream. And laugh. And it makes me angry. And it comforts me that somewhere out there someone feels the same way."

The meaning has changed since I originally wrote it. At the time I was angry because people seemed to think that surviving meant beating it; they didn't recognize that it was a struggle I was still enduring. Those who knew what I was going through praised me for surviving it or said they were sorry for what I went through. I didn't want praise or pity, I needed support because it was a battle I was still fighting.

When I originally saw my secret posted on your Web site I suppose I thought I was going to find closure. Yet the real closure came a year later in this response. I had the support I needed all along in the heart of a stranger.

Thank you,

(sorry, under constructions...)

----Email Message-----
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 2:29 AM
<br>Dear Frank-
<br>I was at your book reading at Booksmith on Haight street for <span style="font-style:italic;">A Lifetime of Secrets</span>. It was absolutely wonderful. You signed my book and at that point I had only flipped through the pages.
<br>Well, I sat down to read the book tonight and was overcome with shock, surprise and emotion when I saw my secret. It is written in red sharpie and reads: "I was adopted. I've seen pictures of my birth mother but not of my birth father. I am terrified that he will recognize me on the street one day. Every time I see a guy who looks about 35 I look for common features between us. It didn't used to bother me but somehow it has turned into my greatest fear. I'm only 18 but I'm afraid this will plague me the rest of my life..."
<br>I immediately started to cry. The amazing thing is. I was at your book reading last night with my birth father, Eric (you signed his book to Meghan). I met him last April, and I couldn't be more happy to have met him, and my birth mother. He was the one who told me about your book reading.
<br>Thank you so much.
<br><br><a onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href=""><img style="float:right; margin:0 0 10px 10px;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="" border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5123644442414572914" /></a><br>-----Email Message-----
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2007 11:04 PM
<br>Dear Frank,
<br>I found the secret I sent you months ago in <span style="font-style:italic;">A Lifetime Of Secrets</span>. I carried the post-it note my daughter had written in my pocket for weeks before taping it to the index card and creating that postcard. I carried the stamped postcard in my purse for a couple weeks more before I could send it. That post-it was my constant reminder...of what...I'm not sure...But now I'm glad you have that post-it note. I let it go and I began to fix it. I won't fail my daughter. Thank you for reminding me just how far we've come.<br>

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