I Have a Secret

When I was younger, I had this recurring nightmare. I had just killed someone, and was trying to hide the body. I hadn’t meant to kill anyone, and couldn’t even actually remember doing it, but there I was with the body, and I had to choose, quickly, between either confessing or hiding the evidence. For a long time, I chose the latter.

I used to keep many secrets. I think this was mostly based on feelings of shame. I wanted to be someone else, and in order to succeed I had to hide behind a wall of secrets.

Needless to say it didn’t work out, and years later I was still the same person. Not changed, hardly even upgraded, rather like a rock molded by external forces until the roughest edges are gone.

But I had learned many things in the process. One of those things was that secrets wear your heart out and gnaw at your soul. Most secrets are useless, since the weight of carrying them around is usually heavier than the weight of the consequences could ever be.

I’m all for honesty these days. It feels great to have nothing to hide. I’ve still got a few tiny secrets that absolutely no one knows. I’m not actively trying to hide them. They’re just things that I prefer to keep to myself, things I’d take back if I could. If I talked about those things, people might get the wrong idea of who I am. Those skeletons jumped into the closet a long time ago. What would be the point of digging them back up again?

I read an article about secrets in marriages. The cited study suggests that keeping secrets in marriages is very common, with 60% admitting to having at some point kept a secret, and 25% saying they were currently keeping a secret from their partner. The biggest motive for keeping secrets was protecting the partner from pain, and the second biggest, protecting self from shame. Most people reasoned like I do, that keeping a little secret that doesn’t hurt anyone, is better than possible complications. If no one knows, and no one’s getting hurt by it, what’s the harm?

The researchers thought it might not be this simple, and they might be right. Maybe there is harm. Not necessarily harm to anyone else, but harm to the person who is hiding behind the secret. Maybe it is a problem that I feel there are some things I need to hide, even now.

I don’t get that dream anymore. I haven’t killed anyone in my sleep for years. But maybe it’s not over yet. I still haven’t walked the whole path of honesty. To be whole, you need to be able to accept who you once were, who you are now, and who you are going to be and fuse those things into a complete person.

Secrets lock the door to one part of you, closing it off from the rest and leaving it ugly and untended like the prototypical secret room in a horror movie. You know, the one you enter through a hatch behind the washing machine in the cellar. The one where no one ever goes expect for the mad person (and his victims).

Real life is usually not like horror movies. My room is not that bad, really. It’s unpleasant, and I’d rather not carry it with me, but it’s a room of human failing and weakness, not a room of evil and terror. Maybe I should open the door and give it a proper airing.

What do you think? Do you need to spill all your beans for a relationship to be truly close, or are some secrets better left in the dark?

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18 thoughts on “I Have a Secret

  1. Great post!
    I do not think it’s best to tell all in a relationship. Especially if the relationship is in the beginning stages..Even among friends – unless you have that brutally honesty type of friendship. And if you do feel the need to keep no secrets – even little ones – do not expect, or be upset everyone in your orbit to feel the same way.

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    1. I agree, I think people should have the right to a little privacy. I think that’s fine as long as it’s not holding them or their relationships back emotionally.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think telling all in the beginning of a relationship can be overwhelming for a person, and maybe spilling it all doesn’t allow the other person to absorb the information in context of what they know about you since they probably know very little right off the bat.

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    1. Yes, you’re so right. It’s definitely a bad idea to spill everything right off the bat, how would you even know if the other person is worth your trust. But it’s more complicated in a long-term relationship when trust has already been established.

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  3. Hmm… I feel like I can tell my significant other anything without judgment. We’ve been together for a bit, but perhaps not as long as you are referring to. I don’t hide anything from him purposefully, but I don’t feel the need to share all details of my strange brain with him. I don’t necessarily think that sharing making a relationship closer. I think shared experiences do.

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  4. Nice post. I believe some things are better left unsaid or not shared. I know my husband doesn’t tell me everything. I don’t tell him everything. I trust him, I love him, we’ve been married for 13 years, but I believe he doesn’t need to know everything and neither do I. We tell each other what’s important in life.

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  5. I am an open book. I am the one people go to when they “really want to know”. I do not try to be outspoken or brutal, but I am not going to lie about anything. If It is how I measure whether an action is right or wrong (according to my standards)…am I going to feel the need to lie or cover up any part of this? If the answer is yes, then I know it is wrong. If I go ahead & do it anyway, then I still tell the truth because I made the conscious choice knowing there would be consequences. . .but I tend not to do it 😉

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  6. Love your post. I wonder, what % of the happy families have secrets from each other? ‘Happy’ I mean both partners happy 🙂 ‘Secrets’ I mean something that is important to both husband and wife. Any other ‘secrets’ change their importance and meaning in time, and fade away. This happened with you, it is why your dream stopped tormenting you. In our relationships we have to focus on more ‘lasting’ things that our ever-changing secrets. What do you think? 🙂

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    1. I guess I’m thinking you can’t have too many secrets for a relationship to be happy. I think you’re right, there must be things that lose in importance as time passes. If you don’t have to actively hide something, then maybe it’s better left in the past.

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      1. It is what I think too. ‘Happy families’ and just ‘families ‘ will probably show different results in that test.
        Yes, if you feel that the secret belongs to the past, then leave it there.

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  7. I still have that nightmare. I guess it is about secrets, but also shame.
    I do think people have to earn your trust to know some of your secrets and sometimes you need to hold other people’s secrets because of their trust in you. It’s not yours to tell.
    I think of myself as a pretty open book, but some people have told me I keep my cards close to my chest. Maybe that’s why I blog, to speak the things I can’t say aloud. Lately though I’ve been thinking about the stories I haven’t told. Mainly because they are not just mine and the other people involved no doubt have a different view.

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    1. That’s a good point, shame is a likely factor in that dream. Blogging is a great way to vent, but you’re right, it’s important not to go overboard. I think other people’s secrets should never be shared unless they’re a danger to someone.

      Liked by 1 person

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