I used to find secrets exciting. It used to send a thrill of anticipation through me when I was a young girl and secrets were whispered at slumber parties and into friend’s ears on the playground.
Today, secrets often make me feel anxious and, sometimes, a bit uneasy. While secrets were fun as a child, usually who had a crush on who or who was going to ask who to dance, secrets as an adult are usually a whole lot bigger and scarier. In my adulthood, I’ve also realized that some secrets should not be kept.
I’ve often wondered why people keep some things a secret. Pieces of information like how one lost a lot of weight or where the best place is to buy skin care products are not secrets that I feel should be held from others. If the knowledge behind these issues would help others, then why wouldn’t we want to share? Why wouldn’t we want to help someone else? If something has helped or benefitted us, why shouldn’t we share it to the benefit of others?
There are times when it is helpful to confide in someone, to share a hurt, a betrayal, or an issue that we do not want shared with others. These types of things I like to call confidentialities. Confidentialities are pieces of information that we share with a chosen friend, but are not something that we want others to know. Not necessarily are they secrets, but they may be parts of us that we only allow a select few to see. Sharing these things with a trusted friend may even help us to understand ourselves better too.
If we cannot help others, then we should, at least, not hurt them. And some secrets can hurt. Secrets that harm others or do not lend themselves to supporting them are not secrets that are good. I also believe that children should never be encouraged to keep secrets from their parents, (unless of course they are “present” or “party” secrets). We teach children that “secrets” that make us feel yucky inside are not ‘good’ secrets and perhaps that’s an ideal rule of thumb for adults as well.
Sometimes we keep secrets in an effort to not hurt others, but it still happens. Purposely or inadvertently there are times when we withhold the truth in an attempt to ‘protect’ someone, when in actuality, we only cause them more pain when they eventually find out the truth anyway. No one seems to ever win with these types of secrets. It could even be said that the road to hell is paved with well-intentioned secrets.
Issues such as mental illnesses and depression should not be kept a secret. I recently attended a suicide awareness evening in my local community. It was an evening to raise awareness about suicide, and to break the silence around mental illness. These issues often affect everyone around the person who is suffering, whether the person suffering realizes it or not. While some may feel that it does not need to be ‘broadcasted’, mental illness should not be considered a “dirty little secret” kept behind closed doors. Secrets like the feelings and desires to self harm or to end one’s life should never be kept. As caring individuals we should try to reach out to others when we see them quiet and alone. Encouraging them to share their feelings, their thoughts, and even their secrets could possibly be the key that opens the door that they have kept shut for so long. Reaching out to them may be the proof they need that they are not alone. And, if they need more help than we can offer, we need to reach out to those who can. Breaking through secrets can sometimes be the best thing.
As people, and as humankind, we should aim to support one another. We should be generous with words and actions. We should offer help when possible and give advice when asked. Our focus should be to encourage, not discourage. We should work to build each other up, not tear each other down. We need to share the good things with others, as well as the bad. If faith brings you strength, then share it with others. We all need to have and to be someone to lean on when the seas are rough. If we strive to be a beacon of light to others when the way is dark, then we can also offer a safe port and welcome those who seem to be lost in their own tides.
Some secrets are just small voices that need to be heard. Some of the best kept secrets, should not kept secret at all.