Monday 16 September 2019

I finally came clean on my big secrets... and it's totally liberating

'I finally came clean on my big secrets... and it’s totally liberating'. Stock Image
'I finally came clean on my big secrets... and it’s totally liberating'. Stock Image
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

There are secrets you should bring to the grave with you and opinions that you should never share because they are just too explosive, like a Molotov cocktail being hurled in between friends.

Everyone who knows me knows that I could talk for Ireland but, increasingly, I'm learning to zip it and say nothing. Sometimes the truth is just far too complicated. But when is it good to keep secrets? And who is it good for... you or them?

I have to confess, I've been feeling decidedly awkward about my silence on two matters and as time goes by, it's only getting worse and making me feel uber guilty.

Firstly, I never told my daughter about the time Romy, our precious, much loved Yorkie, made a break for freedom when there were visitors in the house. In the flash of an eye, she vanished out the kitchen door, through the side gate, out the front garden and took a fast left out on to the busy main road.

Thankfully, a lady in a jeep stuck in traffic outside had a bird-eye's view of the canine proceedings... escaping pooch followed by deranged, red-faced woman screaming at the top of her voice like a fishwife. She caught my eye, pointed left down the road so I took off like a bat out of hell.

When I caught up with the fast-moving hound, she looked around and flashed me a look of 'what's your problem, I'm just off for a Latte at the Mayfield' which is our local dog-friendly restaurant.

I still wake up at night with flashbacks of the incident and decided it was better if my daughter was shielded from the truth so I stayed silent.

Last weekend I decided to grasp the nettle and take my daughter aside to share with her the other shameful secret that's been burning me up - the time I put petrol in her brand new diesel car!

What kind of mother am I? Clumsy, and, worse still, secretive? Over the last 18 months, it's been my most shameful memory, so I reckoned I better 'fess up and tell her before one of my friends or relatives let it slip over the Christmas holidays.

The sordid aspect of this is that I've shared my 'cautionary car tale' with lots of people with the hope that they wouldn't do likewise and it usually results in the same reaction and a hand-over-the-mouth gasp of horror.

There were tears in two counties the day I discovered my fuel injection faux pas. It's not like I was chatting away on the phone, trying to multi-task because I know that mobile phones in a garage are a no-no.

But after a lifetime of filling up the petrol tank in Renault cars - it's always been Renault in our house ever since I passed my driving test at 17 in my mum's dinky Renault 5 - I instinctively reached for the green nozzle and had pumped in about €4 of petrol before I realised my mistake.

I froze on the spot. The air turned blue with expletives... and the words all started with 'f'.

All very unbecoming. But what about the consequences and costs of my moment of stupidity?

That day, I was en route to Ennis to do a favour for talented milliner, Margaret O'Connor. I was scheduled to cut the ribbon on her new hat shop.

"I hope you didn't move the car," said the garage attendant when I went in to explain the abrupt end to my purchase.

"Oh I just moved it off the forecourt over to the side there," I explained.

He face grimaced further and he proceeded to inform me how petrol contamination could damage the fuel pump.

I went outside and broke the news to Margaret whose shop opening was by this time only a few hours away.

Luckily, I located a number for a mobile rescue service and my luck dramatically changed that Friday afternoon.

He was nearby on the M50 and thankfully, five minutes later, he was parked beside me, flushing out the fuel tank, before duly sending me off with a filling of diesel.

I motored down to Ennis and I enjoyed every mile of the journey there and back. The music, the rest stops, even the infamous Ennis Road traffic behaved itself.

Once there, I had two glasses of water, made my speech, cut the ribbon and set off for Dublin again on a beautiful summer evening with a stunning sunset in my rear mirror.

Now I fuel my daughter's car with great care and there's zealous double checking of the black nozzle.

But what did she say when I told her? She was cool about the car but cross I had told others and not her. It was her car after all.

The tale about Romy's escape met with a far worse reaction. As I had feared she would be from day one, she was horrified. And now I suspect Romy might be getting a collar tracker, just in case.

But I have no regrets. When it comes to secrets, I've discovered that finally spilling the beans is very liberating. I should have spoken up years ago.

Irish Independent

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