Are you listening?
My Mom was a secret keeper. I never understood most of them. In fact I often thought many of her secrets were kind of silly and her reasoning behind them flawed. I mean who really cares if you bought a pair of Levis? Is it that big of a deal that you feel you have to make up an elaborate story as to how they came to be in your closet? Trying to keep all of her secrets under wraps was quite a chore and many times my brother and I would slip up and let the Levis out of the bag inadvertently. Obviously I am still here to tell the tale so we know the world didn’t end, but that doesn’t mean our lapse didn’t somehow cost her.
Not knowing something about someone doesn’t mean it’s a secret. There are plenty of things my kids do not know about me and I am sure there are tons of things I do not know about them. The question would be whether or not these things we don’t know about each other are intentionally withheld and if so then they are secrets.
Merriam Webster defines a “secret” as something…
Some people share their secrets anonymously for the world to see. Others write songs about secrets or allude to secrets as marketing ploys in order to generate new business. We have Secret deodorant and Secret Santa’s; secret recipes and secret sauces. There are State Secrets, secret hide-outs and even secret societies.
We all have secrets. Some are small and insignificant while others have the power to change lives or even the world. So what makes a secret a secret and why do we keep them?
Friends often share secrets between them. Sometimes friends have secrets about one or the other with other friends. Sharing a secret can strengthen a friendship as well as tear it apart just like in any relationship. Sharing a secret with a friend allows one to feel like they are not alone.
Marriages have secrets. Some experts even say secrets are good in a marriage. Of course they do not abdicate that all secrets are good. Spouses and lovers often tell “little white lies” in order to save feelings. Unfortunately they also tell big bad lies to save themselves.
Families have secrets. These are often things they don’t want the outside world to know for fear of being judged or ridiculed. Many family secrets involve abuses and the generational gaps of then and now can be hurdles to understanding these are not secrets that should be kept. False or misplaced pride can keep a mouth shut for decades if not forever.
Businesses have secrets or proprietary information about their products or services that would be detrimental if in the hands of a competitor. Sometimes employees are made to sign non-disclosure in an attempt to keep their secrets under wraps. Too often these days’ businesses have secret books to distract from illegal activities.
Governments have secrets. Some of these secrets may well be in the best interest of their citizens however Whistleblowers have taught us that some secrets should be revealed because the secret is only protecting someone who is doing wrong in our name. State Secrets are often secret at the discretion of those in power and may not always be in our best interest.
The temptation to tell a secret can be challenging for some, but I found a website that actually teaches you how to keep a secret or you can just take George Orwell’s advice in 1984 where he said, “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
I suppose at face value the assumption is that secrets are for the better good of something or someone, but not all secrets are good and the burden they put on the bearer can be immense. Guarding another’s secret can implicate you in their secret or deed. It can also place you in jeopardy depending on what the secret is. Sometimes having to hold back the truth is a strain and a drain and makes us deceptive with those around us for no other reason than to keep the secret.
Do you have secrets? Of course you do, but are they secrets that should be told? Only you can answer that. It may be worth reminding you that when you ask someone to keep a secret the potential for your secret being ousted is high. Most people have a hard time keeping secrets that are not their own and if you’re wondering why I’m telling you all of this, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret!