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March 14, 2024 6 mins

Season 10 will launch in June; in the meantime, here’s an update on all things Family Secrets, some of which hit quite close to home.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Hey, Family Secrets. Family, it's been a minute. The last
episode of the ninth season, dropped way back on January eleventh,
was Alice Carrier's extraordinary story of growing up with her
mercurial mother, the famous painter Jennifer Bartlett. Last season was
my favorite season yet. I keep saying that each season

(00:24):
because it's true. The stories keep coming, each one as
individual as a snowflake. When it comes to family secrets,
every secret is unique and powerful in its own way,
and reckoning with those secrets is nothing short of liberating.
I've seen it again and again in my guest's lives

(00:45):
as well as in my own. Currently, we're hard at
work on the tenth season of this podcast, which will
drop in early June. We have an array of fantastic
guests lined up, and I've been inspired and provoked by
the conversations I've had thus far. Some of you may
have noticed that we haven't been dropping in our usual

(01:05):
bonus content, like conversations with great minds about prior episodes
of the pod, and there's a reason for that. One
of my favorite writers, Joan Didion, once wrote that life
changes fast. Life changes in an instant, the ordinary instant

(01:26):
in my life. That fast change came on an ordinary
day in the form of a frightening diagnosis. On January fifteenth,
just a few days after the last season of Family
Secrets ended, I learned that I had a rare cancer
in the back of my eye. It's hard for me
to even say these words. Only six in a million

(01:48):
people are diagnosed with this particular form of cancer. As
the days turned into a blur of doctors, hospitals, new words,
new terms, surgery and treat meant, I learned that I
was very lucky it had been caught early because it
was affecting my vision, something that doesn't always happen, and

(02:09):
so it was treatable. And the odds are tremendously in
my favor that I'm now on the other side of it,
and that it will have been a big old speed bump,
a chapter, a brief and brutal but ultimately survivable scare.
Why am I sharing this with you because my first instinct,

(02:29):
which lasted for over a month, was to tell almost
no one. My immediate family knew and my innermost circle
of friends. But I was hell bent on keeping this private.
I didn't think of it as keeping a secret. I
figured that Eventually I might write about it, as I
have written about so many other chapters in my life,

(02:52):
in the fullness of time. But while I was going
through it, I felt too vulnerable. I thought a lot
of about an episode I recorded last season titled Shanda,
in which the writer Letty Cotton Pogribin talked about a
benign brain condition that she kept secret for a long
time because she was worried that if people knew, they

(03:13):
would see her differently. They would see her as a
sick person, someone with something wrong with her, separate from
the herd of the healthy. It felt as Letty and
I discussed that illness is somehow a source of shame,
and as all of you Family Secrets listeners know, shame
leads to secrecy, and secrecy leads to toxicity and isolation,

(03:38):
and around and around we go. So I did something
that was hard and scary for me. I announced to
my diagnosis on social media, specifically on my public Instagram account,
so that I could own my truth rather than falling
victim to it. And in the flood of loving, kind,

(03:59):
compassion responses I received from friends, acquaintances, strangers, readers, listeners
of this podcast, I was reminded of something that I know,
but I had forgotten in the midst of my own
terror and reflexive self protection. I had forgotten that we
need one another, that we are part of a vast

(04:22):
tapestry a community, and that most of us are at
our corese kind and caring. And so I've been through
some hard things in the last bunch of weeks, but
I went through them with a sense of being carried,
being borne by so many humans who sent me their
good wishes in whatever ways they could. This has meant

(04:44):
the world, it continues to me in the world. There's
a profound difference between privacy and secrecy. I still feel
very much like a private person, even though I live
a somewhat public life. So when I realized that I
was harboring a secret, that I wasn't allowing people in,

(05:05):
that I wasn't allowing people to be their best selves
and to carry me through this time, I knew I
had to do it differently. And so, dear dear family,
secrets family, this is just me saying to you, I
love this community. I love the work I've been called
to do in life that so often involves breaking down

(05:26):
my own fears as a way of coming to a
deeper understanding. I really am going to be okay. Please
know that, And if you'd like to follow along between
now and June when the new season drops, come on
over to Instagram and say Hi, I'm at Danny writer.
That's da Ni writer. I even post cute puppy photos sometimes,

(05:52):
but I'm over there as I am over here trying
to make sense of what it is to be human.
Thanks for listening.

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Dani Shapiro

Dani Shapiro

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