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Friday, August 9, 2013

Can You Keep a Secret?


For the most part, my life is an open book. If there’s something you want to know – just ask. But every now an then, when something truly devastating happens, I just need time to collect my thoughts and try to figure out what’s next.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t trusted confidants I won’t talk to, for advice, guidance or just to have a shoulder to cry on. That last one is very important to me. I usually make up my own mind and have since I was very little, but knowing that there are those who love and care about me, knowing that I can blubber on their shoulder…Well, that’s just something I need sometimes.  What I also need is someone who can keep my confidence.

Who knows? Maybe they're right. This does look bad.
My family can’t keep secrets. I think it might be some time/space continuum problem, like the Earth would implode if they tried. Something I learned early on is that my family is like one person. If one of us knows something, the rest of us know it too. So, I always have to be sure – before I tell anyone in my family anything of importance – that I’m all right with them ALL knowing it. Sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I just don’t want everyone knowing every last detail of my life.

This last week, I experienced something that just drained me physically and emotionally. I was a wreck. I cried, I couldn’t get out of bed. I felt reminiscently of how I did when my ex-husband left – empty, with nothing left to give to anyone.

I called my mother, because I talk to her every morning around 8:00, and have for many years. If I didn’t call her, she’d know something was wrong.  So, pre-emptively, I called her, gave her a brief run down of what had gone wrong and told her I just didn’t have it in me to talk. By the end of the day, my entire family knew what had happened – even my father who never talks to my mother (of course, he got the information from my brother. Time/space continuum, you know.)

My sister called to yell at me – that’s how she deals with stress. My brother called and then texted me when I didn’t answer. (I did just get yelled at and was emotionally drained.) And then my father texted too. I know they all mean well. I know they’re worried and just want to be supportive. But sometimes, I just need to be able to cope with whatever the problem is in my own way and in my own time.

I have some friends who are the same way, some friends I’ve learned the hard way that they can’t keep a secret. I have to mentally put them in the “family” box – don’t tell unless you’re ok with everyone knowing.

Whenever the subject comes up, I try to re-evaluate myself. Can I keep a secret? Most of the time I do, not always – it depends on the secret (and whether or not the time/space continuum will be affected.)

What about you? Can you keep a secret? Or does the time/space continnums affect you too?

22 comments:

  1. Ava,
    I'm sorry you're going through a tough time. I always hate to hear that about my friends. Hugs to you.

    In my work as a social worker, everything is confidential. I've been doing the job for so long that keeping confidences is hardwired in my brain. I automatically assume if someone tells me something it's meant to be kept private unless they tell me otherwise. One exception is I'll share things with my husband if it's someone he cares about, such as family or close friends, but usually they tell me it's okay to share with him.

    I know it must be annoying in some senses to have family in your business, but it's kind of nice too. There's an added layer of unnecessary stress in families that keep secrets from one another. It's hard to remember who can know what and you never know if the person you're talking to knows the same thing, so you don't know if you can mention it. Secrecy in families just creates walls, I think.

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    1. LOL. Yeah, my family has no walls. ;)

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  2. First of all...I love you. And I will always keep your secrets, but I'm pretty sure you know that means from everyone *except* Eric. Lol. He's part of my time/space continuum. And he's the only one. I love my family, but we all have our own opinions about how life should be lived or how stress should be handled. I like the way I do things, so no need to rock the boat :)

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    1. I am well aware that you and Eric are like one and the same. I can't imagine you ever keeping anything from him. :)

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  3. This is a biggie for me. I feel very strongly that when someone tells me something and ask me not to repeat it that I would literally die first before repeating it. I want the same treatment, if I tell a secret, so I give it. *Even my husband is excluded from getting info from me in this case.*

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    1. Wow, Julie! You keep info from your husband too?

      Back when I was married my ex would say "I know something I can't tell you." That would drive me insane. If you don't want to tell me something that's fine, but don't tell me that you're keeping something from me. ;)

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  4. Ava, big hugs. Been there through the ex stuff too. It's so important to talk about these things and not bottle them up inside also. Hope you're feeling better soonest.

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    1. All of that stuff has worked itself out. Emotionally, I'm fine - just suffering from a kidney infection this week. ;)

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  5. I can keep a secret. Even when it's horrifically hard. :-)

    My mother can't. She's in that category: Once I tell her something, everyone will know and usually within the hour. LOL.

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    1. It's amazing how fast everyone finds out, isn't it, Deb? Like wildfire.

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  6. I'm sorry you've had such a rough time of it lately! Hugs.

    For me, it depends on the secret. I've learned that there are some secrets that should remain secrets, and there are others that should NOT. It's tough to know the difference at times. And it can be even tougher when you know a secret should be revealed and do so, but the person whose secret it was gets upset that you didn't keep their confidence.

    There are also secrets which need to be kept from some people, but not from others. I can tell you about the secret I know of my mother's, because it isn't important to you. But I can't tell it to my siblings.

    I have found that some of my family can be trusted with some secrets, but none can be trusted with all secrets, and one can't be trusted with anything. It makes it difficult to decide who I can talk to about certain things.

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    1. That's very true, Cat.

      Back in the years of my marriage, I was really isolated. When my ex would do awful things (and he did) I had to keep them to myself because I knew if I confided in my family - everyone would know - and they hold grudges. So it wasn't until I knew I was getting divorced that I felt comfortable spilling the secrets I'd been living with to my family. And I knew that it was truly over with him once I did confide them to my family. :)

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  7. Sorry you're going through so much. Families mean well (most of the time anyway), but they sure can make things harder. I tend to, like you, go to friends first and family last...because of the space/time continuum thing. It's kind of eerie. Hope things get better!

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to make those sorts of decisions. :)

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  8. Ava, I am so sorry you are going through a tough time.

    As for secrets, I keep them. At least I hope I never let something slip that shouldn't have. I like to think people keep my secrets but I have been burned. When I want to share something I first ask myself if it is something I would want others to know and if it is not, I don't tell anyone, including my family.

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    1. Jane, I find I need a few confidants. I need to bounce ideas, thoughts, feelings off others just to make sure I'm making the best decisions. You know?

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  9. Oh honey, I don't know what's up but I hope you're okay. Hugs. If I'm told not to share, I absolutely will not say a word about it. But I have to be told. Lol. My husband has learned to specify anything and everything he does NOT want me to talk about. I'm not always happy about it, but I will keep my mouth shut. :)
    Love and hugs to you.

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    1. LOL, Andris! I have mistakenly told people things I didn't realize were secrets. I have one friend who now says "Ava, this is a secret." before she tells me something. And that's fine. I can keep a secret. I just didn't know some things were, you know? ;)

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  10. Oh no! I hope you're doing better now and I'm sorry to hear you're going through so much. As you know, I don't do hugging, but a cyber hug is just fine. *extends arm for awkward side hug, complete with a few pats on the back/shoulder*

    As for keeping secrets. I can keep them like nobody's business. The rest of my family? Absolutely not. I think it's because they can't and the chronic embarrassment of dealing with secret blabbing that made me so determined to keep secrets.

    With that being said, I do think there is a time when sharing someone's secret, or at least part of it, is necessary. A few years back there was this couple in my church who had decided to divorce. My husband knew this because a mutual friend told him, however, Bob took the man's words of: please don't tell anyone else yet, to mean he couldn't tell me. So at church the following week, without thinking, I went right up to the lady and teasingly asked where she'd left her husband that morning. I was humiliated later to learn that they were divorcing and she'd literally left him. In that case, where the consequences of keeping a secret are horribly uncomfortably and embarrassing, it might be okay to let part of it slip. In our house, we call it the D and C rule to decide if we need to let part of someone's secret slip to the other.

    Oh, and humiliation later turned to anger at MY husband to find out that he knew all along and let me make a fool of myself, another good point in the favor of sometimes letting thing slip: harmony at home.

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    1. Rose - I completely hear you! WIthin the last few months someone told me a secret in a moment when she was very upset. And the secret was a big one, not one I wanted to keep to myself. There was an important person who really should be told. So I had to convince her to tell that certain person and I'm so relieved she took my advice.

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  11. Oh Ava
    I'm so so sorry you are feeling low.

    I can relate to the whole family continuum thing...there are zero secrets in my family which had been hard over the years...because you know you just sometimes need to speak to those you love in confidence....and you need the information you share to stay private. That's why I stopped telling my Family about my family planning struggle over the years---because it was shared and discussed and it was really just more emotionally draining.

    Instead I found some beautiful friends and crit partners who filled the role of confidantes. Sometimes you need more than even family. Does that make sense?

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    1. That makes total sense, Christi! And I'm so glad you were able to find wonderful friends with whom you could confide in.

      I think I'm pretty lucky to have some of the best friends in the world. :)

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