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Dirty Laundry

Your own is enough!

by Rita Ayers
March 14, 2006

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Dirty Laundry
At long last, a celebrity has finally revealed some intensely personal childhood issues for all the right reasons. It came to light earlier this week that Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher had been sexually abused by an uncle over thirty years ago. She kept silent about it until another of his victims committed suicide. See Teri Hatcher article. She also took the high road when she actually spoke to authorities: the fact that she had agreed to testify back in 2002 was not made public because she feared she would be seen as attention-seeking.

And that attention-seeking tactic is exactly what bugs me about the majority of celebrities today. The first one that really floored me was Suzanne Somers, back in 1988, who revealed that her father was an alcoholic with a violent temper and she lived in fear throughout her childhood. Well, yes, Suzanne, you and millions of other kids born in post-war 1946 to families with great amounts of loss, stress, and depression in them. From some reports, her book, Keeping Secrets, is well-written and moving. But I have to wonder exactly what her motivation was behind NOT keeping those secrets. Could it have had something to do with her inability to land a TV role after her Three's Company debacle and her need to thrust herself back into the limelight in some form or fashion?

Next up was Roseanne Barr Arnold, who felt the need to write a book in 1994 claiming that both of her parents sexually abused her when she was a child. True or false? I don't know, but that's not the point. Her hit TV show was at its prime that year; perhaps she simply felt she was above reproach and could take a shot at anybody she had any past grievances with from her elevated position. Or maybe she was simply trying to explain her behavior by pointing a finger at errant parents... but could they really have been behind her disgusting us all with her excruciating rendition of the Star Spangled Banner at that infamous San Diego Padres game in 1990?

There are others, of course, but I stopped listening to entertainment news somewhere about 1995, when I learned I could find what I wanted on the Internet without having to suffer through some really sad, annoying commercials. And I've picked out just two to illustrate what seems to be a prevailing trend in our country: blame someone else! It permeates the air everywhere - in schools, children aren't responsible for their own learning; it's the teacher's job to ensure that parents receive every homework assignment. In politics, no one ever seems to know anything until after the paper is signed or the deed is done. They claim ignorance of every single fact, despite written documentation to the contrary. FEMA Director Michael Brown didn't know people were in the Superdome in New Orleans? Yeah, right. I knew it, and I didn't have power in my home. In religion, the Catholic Church can't be held responsible for what its priests did so many years ago ... they didn't know!

Anytime I feel that my problems are just too huge to bear and that my head is going to explode, I create this scenario in my head. I imagine that every American - young, old, black, white, able, infirmed, successful, destitute - is forced by some higher power to load all his/her problems into a tote bag. They are then mysteriously transported into the geographic center of the country - say a nice wheat field in Nebraska - where they each unload their tote bag, forming one huge pyramid of a pile of every problem ranging from bad acne or hemorrhoids to work-related stress, infidelity, or substance abuse. I then envision this deep, baritone voice intoning, "Each person will now take an equal amount of the pile back home with them." And, with the dawning realization of what exactly that might mean, almost to a man, everyone runs for the pile to try to grab back what they brought to begin with, at least knowing what that problem is and what they should have been doing to deal with it all along. I smile to myself when I think of the enormous, ridiculous vision I've created, and it does the trick for me and I return to the task at hand.

Why aren't we all just dealing with our own dirty laundry instead of airing it in public and claiming it's all someone else's fault?

Comments (3)

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dan from Fairhope, AL writes:
March 14, 2006
Another nice piece of writing, Rita. Your commentary kept me engaged and got me thinking about family secrets....most of us could write a book, I expect. I most admire those who do not blame, but seek to use their experiences to inspire others to have courage to endure what they must to find hope and a new future.

Rita Ayers from Fairhope, AL writes:
March 14, 2006
Well said, and I agree wholeheartedly with your viewpoint. That is precisely why I commended Teri Hatcher on the way she handled her painful past - she did it only to help others by preventing the abuser from seeking other youthful victims.

I don't wish to sound hard-hearted, but my underlying rationale is simply that we ALL have our cross to bear. If sharing that cross with others helps, then wonderful - but make sure that is the reason the dirty laundry is unveiled. In other words, I think we're in complete agreement!

Brooke from Tuscaloosa, AL writes:
March 14, 2006
Not only was this piece well written but it almost seemed as if it were coming out of my own mouth. I may have chosen more recently famous celebrities, but I've always been annoyed with people who try to throw their own pity-parties while blaming others and trying to boost their ratings.

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