I know something.
It’s a secret. So, obviously, I cannot tell you what I know. But it does bring me to the thought about how we deal about secrets, and, perhaps (and therefore) what makes us vulnerable.
I know folks who will take secrets to their grave; I know a few others who will blurt out what they know at first possible context that they can think of. One (of the many) classifications, in which we think about people, is how they manage secrets. I use the word ‘manage’ with some purpose. I could have easily said, ‘keep’ secrets.
I am not the person you want to confide, if you do not want anyone to know what you are up to. Especially, if what you confide in me is happy news. I am, perhaps, melancholic in a way. If I know something about you that is not worth sharing, I’ll take it to my grave. But we do have to deal with the aspect of “what is worth sharing” – is it how you see it or is it how I see it. There is a difference you know.
Flashback, circ. 1989.
A young healthy body is shivering. Guts are in short supply. I gather them as much as I can. I proceed. I gingerly walk up and inform my father that I smoke. The response is factually receptive (if that phrase means anything). He accepts my confession (my perspective) as a statement (his perspective).
“Good, you told me.”
“Well, I didn’t want you to hear it from someone else.”
I hover around and he has sensed that my bigger problem was not the confession (my perspective) but, something else.
“Please don’t tell Mom.”
“I won’t, for the sake of it, but if it come down to a conversation, I will tell her.”
I don’t know if you have ever experienced a feeling that the world is made of paper and it starts crumpling around you, but it was a similar experience. He didn’t say, “I have to tell her,” he said, ” I will tell her.”
I left the room; he did not look up from the paper that he was reading.
Of the things that people confide in us – there are things that are good, and there are things that are not so good. I am given to hold, protect and preserve secrets that don’t show folks in good light. I will, also hold, protect and preserve secrets that have not yet become the well-known truth. However, I have to find someone to share good news. If you want to suppress good news about you – I am not the person you should be speaking with. Never trust me with “good” secrets. I am, usually, unable to hold tight, the secrets that show the wonder of great people. Overall, that makes me a person who cannot keep secrets half the time.
There’s one more thing about how I deal with secrets. If it looks like someone is about to confide, I ask them to wait a moment. I tell them that by the fact that you (may) confide in me, my wife will know it. By choice or chance, but she will know it. Unless you agree to that, do not confide; I am better off not knowing. It’s my rule; it’s not my wife’s rule, so, perhaps you are better off confiding to her.
But it does all come back to the nature of secrets and their purpose. To tell someone something that they aren’t supposed to know in the first place, is the first violation of a “secret.” However, to tell something to someone, means that you want to be heard. Which, to my mind, violates the essence of a “secret.” Yet, secrets are exclusive bonds between people. Some secrets bind people for life. Even if none of them ever want to or need to “out” a secret. Whatever the relationship, secret-management defines a relationship. Venn diagrams, Sub-sets and Super-sets, is the one concept that I am very glad to have learned in school. Are we vulnerable because we know something or because we do not know something? Do we seek secrets? Do we avoid them?
And, therefore, if more than one person knows that one thing, it is already not a secret, no?
PS: Here’s a secret for you; my Mom knew I smoked, long before I knew that she knew, that I smoked. That other secret, I am trying to hold back and ‘manage’ it for as long as I can. It’s a good secret. If I do hold back till the right time, perhaps I will be better at secret management.