Monday, 9 October 2017

Trust me

I'm good at keeping secrets. I'm good at being tight-lipped. You can trust me with your most private thoughts, your worst fears, your most emb-arrassing moments, and they'll be safe with me. Far from talking too much, I'm more likely to be saying nothing at all.

Over the years I've been privy to all sorts of odd secrets, and I've never divulged any of them. I'm not a gossip, not an attention-seeker, not a rumour-monger. I appreciate that people have trusted me with something very personal and I'm not going to betray their trust.

I've heard about all manner of things - devastating panic attacks, social anxiety, agoraphobia, strange sexual habits, over-large breasts, breast reduction surgery, illegal drugs, gun ownership, excessive body hair, heavy periods. Only once have I heard about an affair, even though affairs are commonplace. And nobody has confessed to a violent husband. Perhaps I just move in very ethical circles where such things simply don't happen. Yeah, right.

Likewise I've revealed my own deepest secrets to other people, trusting they won't go any further. On the whole my trust has been justified and very seldom have I been betrayed. Which is just as well if I've moved on and I now think of whatever it was I blurted out ten years ago as mortifying idiocy.

I'm amazed at those people who merrily spill out absolutely everything to absolutely everybody. People who seem to be embarrassed by nothing and happy for the entire world to peer into their soul. It's all very entertaining and eye-opening but how can they do it? Are they pioneering a new form of total openness, or are they just unremitting narcissists?

Of course there's not much you can keep secret from your partner. Sooner or later they'll uncover all the weird and tawdry aspects of your character. And then you'll find out if they really love you warts and all. Or whether they run for the hills.

29 comments:

Helen Devries said...

I can keep your secrets, if you feel you wish to relate them to me...and I can keep my own.
I have no wish to or interest in revealing all but think I must be in a minority to judge by conversations overheard or tv programmes before I lunge for the off switch.

John Gray said...

I can keep major secrets but more minor ones I tend to let slip with!
It's the diva in me

Nick said...

Helen: I know, it's extraordinary how many people just splurt everything out, no matter how shocking or repulsive.

John: I'd better be careful what I tell you then. It might be one of those "minor" secrets!

tammy j said...

I don't like secrets.
i'd rather not know. and I don't tell my own.
if you tell me something and ask me not to tell it... I WON'T.
to my dying day.
but otherwise I must be a diva like john... it may come up in conversation!

kylie said...

I don't have many secrets and it's not because I'm a narcissist, it's just that it's easier for me to live that way. I am terrible at lying and evading so the only option you are left with is truth. I do try hard to be a reliable keeper of others' secrets although I would find it hard if i was asked directly.
I remember one time I was in very early pregnancy and wretchedly sick. I told a friend I was unwell and left it at that but she asked what was wrong, did I have a virus? Faced with a pointed question and a person expecting an answer I felt ambushed and gave up my secret. That's just an example of how it is to be me

Bijoux said...

I wish I could come up with a new comment on the topic, but I'm stuck!

CheerfulMonk said...

That's why good long-term marriages are so great --- no one has run for the hills. :)

Dave Martin said...

I can keep a secret as long as it doesn't involve lying - I'm the world's least convincing liar.
I keep no secrets from the wife because she always figures it out anyway, but there will always be some things you keep secret from the world at large - usually because it's none of their business!

Nick said...

Tammy: I would also prefer to have no secrets and put everything on the table, but there are always some things I prefer to keep to myself (or to a trusted other), for very good reasons like keeping my job or not starting a flurry of ill-informed gossip.

Nick said...

Kylie: Unfortunately I'm quite good at lying convincingly, so if someone asks me a direct question, I can avoid answering it quite easily!

Bijoux: That surprises me, you have strong opinions about most things! I suspect you're very good at keeping secrets.

Nick said...

Jean: Indeed. There's not much I could shock Jenny with at this point. By now she's very familiar with the negative sides of my character!

Dave: You're right about a partner knowing you well enough to figure out what you're trying to hide! Jenny can suss me out pretty quickly.

Ms Scarlet said...

I have actually declined to know a secret, shaken my head and walked away laughing. It wasn't because I didn't want to know, I did, it's just that the consequences of knowing weren't worth the bother of hearing a bit of gossip. I didn't want to be dragged into the resulting fall-out and bitch-fest.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Very wise. In any case, the gossip they want you to keep secret is probably all over town anyway, so they just emphasise secrecy to add to the drama and make you think they're in some exclusive social circle.

Ursula said...

By definition, the moment you share a secret it's not a secret any longer.

Scarlet's tale doesn't make head or tail. As admirable as her powers of self protection are, how do you know in advance that there will be a "fall-out and a bitch-fest"? Gossip is a different concept to sharing a genuine "secret", the confided in keeping it to themselves.

I don't tell people "secrets" but I will take someone into my confidence. Fine difference. Neither do I ever say "Don't tell anyone". The moment you feel the need to say "Don't tell anyone" is the moment you know you should keep yourself to yourself.

There are people who won't [tell] and then there are those who are so wanting, so needy, they can't wait to tell everyone what they have just learnt. On one memorable occasion I visited a friend who had just given birth to her fourth child and first daughter. As I entered her room several eyes (of other friends) were on me. "So sorry, so very sorry", they muttered. Pardon? Sorry? Sorry for what? And before I could congratulate my friend, the mother, on her new arrival I learnt that another "friend" had passed on the juicy bit of news, guess what, that the dream couple, FOS and I, had decided to part. It wasn't a secret, obviously - but this "friend" was the FIRST in the vicinity I had told. Widening the spin of your original post, Nick, I suggested to her that, sometimes, most times, it's actually best, and good manners, to allow people to tell everyone whatever "it" maybe in their own good time. But, as I said earlier, that's in the realm of gossip, not that of sharing of secrets. We never exchanged the time of day again. Her decision not mine. She'd rather cross the road (we lived on the same one) than face me. Such was her shame. Her lesson? All her other "friends" saw her with new eyes.

As an aside: My anecdote was brought on by your stock photo. What it depicts is gossiping, not a heartfelt sharing of a secret.

U

joared said...

I don't seek confidences from others, but have been surprised at some of the ones I’ve been given by friends. Those with whom I’ve confided have been few, but we had established mutual trust in each other first. Some of what might have seemed to need to be kept secret when I was young generally became to be seen as unnecessary when I got older. Also, the nature of my last profession required confidentiality from patients, their families and others with whom I had contact, which has just been a given in my life.

Ms Scarlet said...

Ha Ha!! Yep, I sort of knew that I was blathering about gossip and not secrets.
As for knowing about a bitch fest in advance that would be down to grim experience.

Sx

Nick said...

Ursula: Well, to my mind, sharing a supposed secret with other people amounts to gossip. So they sort of overlap.

I've often divulged something and said "don't tell anyone". I don't see why the latter should prevent the former. I divulge something because I want to know the other person's reaction or opinion on what I'm divulging. At the same time I don't want them to pass it on to everyone else.

I hope your "friend" learnt her lesson. But I suspect she was in the habit of announcing such juicy titbits, and has repeated her mistake many times.

Nick said...

Joared: I think you're right about secrecy being less important as you get older and are less bothered by other people's reactions. Also you realise that something that once seemed very unusual and embarrassing is actually commonplace and not embarrassing at all.

Nick said...

Scarlet: I would have thought most women have experience of a bitch-fest or two, and your desire to avoid one was all too realistic.

Ms Scarlet said...

I was including men under the umbrella term of Bitch-fest!! I am inclusive if nothing else.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Indeed, men are just as capable of all-out bitchery. They may even have resting bitch face....

Rummuser said...

I have never had to share secrets with anyone else though a lot of people have shared their secrets with me. I guess that I simply don't have anything to hide.

Nick said...

Ramana: Good to know you have nothing to hide!

Anonymous said...

A married friend of mine wished to share a secret with me and announced that she had a lover. I felt embarrassed as her husband was also a good friend of my husband and myself and I decided up from that day not to listen to secrets. People make of you an accomplice, if it's a "real" secret they can keep it for themselves and if not you can tell it and it can be repeated.
Mia

Nick said...

Mia: That's a bit like what Ursula said. If someone says "Don't tell anyone", then just don't listen to them. Yes, in a way you can become an accomplice to something unethical or unsavoury. Suppose they admit to a crime and you're helping to conceal it?

Ursula said...

Mia, I think it's more complicated than you make it out. Why would you feel "embarrassed" if someone told you they were having an affair? The pertinent question: Why, of all people - considering that your respective husbands were good friends, would she confide in you? Her trust in you I'd see as a compliment. Is there a greater [compliment] than being entrusted with a secret? Leaving the religious aspect out of it, why do you think people go to confession or talk to their doctor (both priest and physician bound by vow to keep things confidential) unless they felt that most human need to unburden ourselves?

I think it a little harsh to say "... then you can tell it and it can be repeated". No, absolutely not. Unless you make it your business to aid people ruining their lives.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: Some people would be embarrassed, some wouldn't. It's an individual thing, surely? I suppose being trusted with a secret is a sort of compliment, as you say. They feel that (a) you'll be sympathetic (b) you might have some useful advice (c) you won't tell anyone else.

Jenny Woolf said...

I don't really like secrets, my own or other peoples' but of course they are necessary to keep the social world running. I dislike it when people (other than close family) tell me secrets, because it places a responsibility on me to keep them which I didn't ask for. I do feel though that preserving the secret of a really close person is a responsibility I'll accept. I do have a friend who absolutely refuses to keep secrets and that's really unnerving!

Nick said...

Jenny: I'm happy to hear other people's secrets. They're usually interesting, to say the least, and I'm very good at keeping a secret. I guess you can always ask people not to tell you anything they don't want passed on.

I suppose if someone refuses to keep secrets, it does make you think twice about confessing to something reprehensible!