Secrets. Got any? I’m sure you do. I think everyone has. Some are totally innocuous. Like you’re not really a blonde. Or you really don’t like your mother-in-law’s lentil soup, even though you always tell her you love it. You’ve told your husband, but you’ve made him promise not to tell her. It’s your little secret.
Then there are the silly ones. Like how they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar. The sweet ones, like when little Tommy, who was about seven years old, was caught kissing Mary Beth in the school yard, during recess. Leanne whispered the news to Joanna, with much giggling, pointing and blushing. Of course, Joanna then told Adam, who told Marcus. And so on, and so on and so on and so on. Once the cat was out of the bag, it spread like wildfire. Secret no more.
Poor little Tommy has probably been scarred for life, and still has commitment issues. And maybe Mary Beth loved all the attention, and grew up to be Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan.
Some are horrible, like when you catch your best friend’s husband with another woman. Do you tell her or don’t you? Do you tell him you know? Do you tell anyone? You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. It’s a dilemma, all right. A terrible position to find yourself in.
And what about surprise parties? More secrets you have to keep. I find them stressful, actually. Not because I’m afraid that I’ll spill the beans. I’m great at keeping secrets. My lips are sealed, always. No, I’m afraid someone else will. Or the ‘surprisee’ (yes, I’ve made up a word) will somehow find out on his or her own, and spoil the fun. An aunt of mine made her husband a surprise party for one of his birthdays, his fortieth I think.
She had it absolutely brilliantly organized. She thought of everything, including telling all the guests to park on different streets, so he wouldn’t suspect something was amiss, when their street had more cars on it than usual. We were all to wait in the basement of their house. She and their two kids were taking him out to dinner. Everything went beautifully, totally according to plan. Until they got home.
He did what he always did when he came home. He took his clothes off and came downstairs to the use the bathroom, and then watch TV. That was the one thing my aunt hadn’t thought of, or planned for. Thank God he left his underwear on, is all I can say. If only we’d had iPhones back then. Those would be some shots!
There are secrets that should not have to be kept. It is terribly sad to think that there are men and women who feel to ashamed to tell anyone that they’ve been abused, be it mentally, financially, physically, emotionally or sexually. To think they have to carry the burden alone, and are, therefore, unable to seek justice, is simply unthinkable. There are men and women who are afraid to admit that they are gay. Or lesbians. Afraid their families, friends and even colleagues won’t want anything to do with them. Afraid their jobs will be threatened, their standing in their communities jeopardized. Even now, in 2012. Imagine.
We should all be ashamed that we allow such prejudice and ignorance to exist; and we should all take a vow to do our part to stop it. I am also amazed, and disgusted, by the permission we give ourselves (and others) to pry into peoples’ lives. To dig, and keep digging, until we find the information they’ve kept hidden. By choice. Their choice. Their right.
Private stuff. Personal stuff. Things that have absolutely no bearing on the jobs they do, or how they do them. Who smoked pot once or twice in high school, who’s had breast implants, who infertile, who’s had an abortion, whose marriage seems to be on the rocks, who’s HIV positive, who’s a kleptomaniac (which is an illness, by the way), who’s bulimic, who’s an atheist, who’s a Republican, who’s a Democrat and who’s an Independent is absolutely none of our business. We have no right to give away their secrets; and, when we do, we’re being extremely hurtful.
So the next time you’re tempted, by a headline, to pick up a gossip rag, maybe think twice. The next time someone asks you to keep a confidence, and you agree, make yourself a promise to keep your promise. And if you have a secret, always remember that it’s safe with me.
Mum’s the word. Shhhhhhh ….