How many of us huddled together on the playground and cupped our hands over a friend’s ear to whisper hidden words that we had never uttered before? We shared our innermost thoughts and dreams to our pals after they pinky promised to “never tell anyone so long as I live.” Perhaps we divulged our feelings for a classmate or confessed to something embarrassing. Whatever the reason, we decided to unleash the truth and almost immediately felt a weight had been lifted. There’s a reason websites like PostSecret are so popular. People need to let it out, to ease the burden of secret keeping and be honest, if not with others than with themselves.
As adults, we all keep secrets. It’s just the way it is. Some people hide feelings about their best friend’s spouse or what they did last Saturday night. Health conditions, past mistakes, and relationships are concealed under the cloaks of omission and lies. We portray rosy dispositions when we may be struggling with something that gnaws at our emotional core, but that we feel we must keep to ourselves.
We hide parts of our lives from those around us for so many reasons. We’re afraid of how people will react to the truth or how their opinions of our character will be changed once the secret is out. We worry that people won’t understand the truth or how/why we’ve tried to protect them from it. Maybe we’re even a little ashamed.
There are two types of secrets: simple secrets and deep, dark secrets. Simple secrets are those that if they were revealed would not be devastating to anyone who hears them. These are the secrets that are more personal and often insignificant. A lot of what makes a simple secret simple is that no one will be affected one way or another if it were to remain a secret. Say your wife makes you meatloaf every Sunday and you prefer someone else’s recipe to hers. If you never told her, it wouldn’t matter. In fact, that’s probably something you might just want to keep to yourself to avoid an argument.
When I originally joined Match.com a few years ago, I didn’t share it with a lot of people. I thought that as soon as I let others know that I had subscribed to a dating website, I would be ambushed with questions and those awful raised-eyebrows, you’re-trying-online-dating questioning looks. It was something I decided to keep private, as well as the men I dated because it didn’t matter and wouldn’t affect anyone else. The only person who cared that I was doing it was me and when I did eventually share the news with family and friends, no one batted an eye.
Then there are the deep, dark secrets, the skeletons-in-the-closet if you will. These are the ones that will change lives when they are revealed and they are almost always revealed sooner or later. The longer a person holds on to this type of secret, the harder it will be when the truth finally comes out. It is emotionally and physically taxing to keep a skeleton in the closet and eventually, one might start to believe the lies they tell others.
And this is what is so harmful about the deep, dark secrets. You are forced to lie, sneak, and deceive to cover your tracks. Did I tell this person this or did I tell them that? Keeping deep, dark secrets will eventually blow up in your pretty little face. People will find out and I guarantee that the act of secret-keeping will be far worse than the secret itself. The axe that you have been waiting for will fall and you may secretly hope that it comes sooner rather than later.
Though I don’t have any of my own, I have kept deep, dark secrets for other people. Out of respect for the people involved, I won’t share what they are, but I will explain how it felt when I learned their secrets. The responses were emotional, ranging from hurt to angry to skeptic depending on the secret, but the worst part was never the truth, it was the fact that details were hidden from me for however long they were. I felt betrayed. I was lied to, I was denied opportunities I would have jumped at, I lost a little respect. The thing is, trust is irretrievably lost when you find out that someone has concealed something from you, even if they were trying to protect you.
The truth is the truth, regardless of how you or others feel about it. Hiding it or pretending it doesn’t exist does not get rid of it. Some things in life can’t be changed, but it’s what you do with that information that says a lot about who you are.
That being said, I would like to confess something.
For the past year and a half, I have kept this blog, for the most part, to myself, though I did share the site with a select few friends and family members who I thought would enjoy it. For me, I wasn’t sure what I was doing with this blog and I wanted to protect it before I started sharing it with those I care about. I worried that people would misinterpret the ideas I was exploring and look at me differently. I thought they might not like what they read or would criticize my opinions, forcing me to feel like I had to justify what I had written. However, after eighteen months of casually mentioning ideas I had explored in blog posts, I decided that enough was enough. I have been encouraged by plenty of friends to invite others to read my posts and after more than 100 articles, I am really proud of what has been accomplished on Defining Wonderland. The time has come and I am ready to let the world know.
Consider it just one less secret I have to keep.