CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
Today’s challenge asks you to talk about a secret you didn’t keep. As a therapist I am good at keeping secrets when it comes to my professional dealings. I follow the rules when using stories about living people. The most important of those rules is to disguise the person so no one but that person and people who already know would understand who you were talking about. I state in the introductions to my two books that people should not assume that if I say I am telling a story about a child I know from my professional life or a friend’s child or a foster child or one of my children or grandchildren that is actually the person involved in the story. But the people who lived the stories know and some have felt betrayed. Sad. Not my intent.
Part of feeling betrayed by past behaviors means shame is still attached to that behavior. Most secrets are shame filled burdens. Shame is a strong emotion signaling we are flawed human beings. Shame is a necessary emotion to keep us from doing the unthinkable. Unfortunately, it needs to be strong in children and that means many of us carry the sense of being shameful long in to adulthood. The people who should feel shame are often the very ones who don’t. While the rest of us are too often haunted by small acts that everyone else has long forgotten and probably never thought shameful. Shame from the past should stop hurting after awhile. I hope those who felt betrayed when they recognized themselves know I was using their story to help other parents and children.
The picture I used from Secret Chest a web page where people can post secrets anonymously. Confession, complaining, venting is a common way to ease troubled feelings. One of my staying strong tips is to find a good complaint partner–someone you can vent to safely, meaning your venting stays only with the person you vent to. The danger of venting is that it can become gossip.
What is gossip? Gossip is sharing information about another person with the intent to hurt that person or to gain some advantage for yourself. Many of my foster kids thrived on bring me tales about who said what about me and couldn’t understand my saying, “Don’t want to hear unless that person wants to tell me.” A good policy.
As a boss, when people came to me with a complaint about another person, I wanted to know if they were just venting or expecting me to do something. If I was to do something, then the person complaining had to bring the other person to my office and tell the other person what they were telling me. Many just wanted to complain. If I heard the same complaint over and over again, then I started making it the complainer’s problems.
Sadly, sometimes the complainers felt that by listening to them, I was approving their complaint and then would go back to the other person and say “Katherine said thus and so about you.” Not helpful.
All very complicated which is why I prefer transparency and dealing face-to-face with those who offend me. Have I always done so? No. But I try to be direct about what I don’t like. When I fail, the problem is mine and a secret I am keeping and need to share.
Topic #77:Write about the biggest secret you failed to keep? Bonus: If you don’t want to write the secret itself, why do you think you failed to keep it? Do you know anyone that could have kept it? Have you learned more about yourself such that you are strong enough now to keep a similiar secret?