Can you keep a secret? I mean really keep a secret? “Oh, I only told my husband. Big deal!” Yeah, you’re right. It is a big deal. Telling your spouse, sibling or mother is not allowed in the rules of trust. I once confronted a friend who had betrayed me, and she said, “I thought telling family was okay.” Um, no, that may be overlooked behavior in nursery school, but once you know right from wrong, I’d say that’s pretty shitty. Think about the key players in your life right now. We know in our guts who shares too much and who locks up information so tightly that an overdose of truth serum couldn’t even make them talk. So, we have no one to blame but ourselves, when in a moment of emotional weakness (perhaps wine-induced), we tell the wrong person the wrong thing. No matter how lovingly that blabbermouth looks at us with the face of a concerned grandma, don’t spill the beans. Don’t do it!
I have to bring my mother into this. (Sorry, Mom). I have three kids and have had four pregnancies (no, one was not in high school or college). How many times do you think I told my own mother I was pregnant before the three-month mark? From my easy setup, I’m sure you were correct in guessing “zero.” She was just too darn excited to be a grandmother, and I knew in my heart she would tell her Siamese-like-sister, mother and close friends. I did feel badly about this, but I couldn’t risk having what was sacred to me shared without my blessing. I did her a favor, though, didn’t I? I mean, when it was safe, she could blab it all over the golf course and canasta table guilt-free. She could brag in all her glory, as she chipped, putted and melded.
I still smile to myself when I think of a young girl telling me this: “You’re my person. My mom told me that if I ever needed anything in the world, I could call you,” she said. I can’t remember exactly what I said back, since this happened years ago, but I know I told her I would of course be her person. I was honored she felt that I was up to the part. Mostly, I was touched to know that this teenager trusted me. Her mother assigned me the role of her daughter’s confidante and life preserver. She did this without ever asking me first. I loved that both mother and daughter knew I’d wire her money, take her to the gyno or pick her up from a frat house at 3 am if that’s what she needed. I have two daughters myself, and I never thought to appoint someone their person. I know both of them would be resourceful enough to find a trusted adult if they thought they needed to reach around their dad or me. I would be grateful to whomever they’d use their one phone call on if they were ever ever handcuffed with mascara smeared down their face and fresh ink on their ankle. (Please don’t let me have just jinxed myself.)
Long ago, I was on the receiving end of an ask for help from another young person. She was pregnant and couldn’t face her mom, because she knew the disappointment would be too much to bear. She was crying and felt alone and scared. It was clear she was too young to be a mother and didn’t want this mistake to ruin all the good things she had coming her way. So, I did what any one of us pro-choice women would do. I offered to pay for her abortion and took her back to my house to sleep it off afterwards. My kids didn’t know she was ever at our house, and I have never told anyone. Though I’m talking about it here, I will never reveal her identity. Never. I know she thought I “saved” her, and I know I gave her the care and relief she needed. What she didn’t realize, though, is that she made me feel as good as I made her feel by trusting me. Actually, I think she made me feel even better.
I do think there are certain moments when it’s okay to reveal a closely-held truth. Psychologists are allowed to do it if they think someone is in danger of hurting herself or being hurt. I agree with that sentiment, especially when it comes to teens. Since most people have big mouths, I hear a lot of gossip. I’ve heard that certain teens have an affinity for sucking on the penises of boys at parties. Unfortunately I’ve heard this about teens I know well. I choose not to tell their parents. Being a slut isn’t life threatening; it just ups your chances of finding your name written on a bathroom wall. If I heard they were driving drunk or hitchhiking, then I’d pick up the phone. But, hey, Rizzo was okay in the end.
If you think keeping secrets is easy, then I’d have to say you’re one of those people I wouldn’t trust. It’s tough stuff at times. If it were easy, then there wouldn’t be an overabundance of loose-lipped people in the world. It can be tempting to spill something, especially when you think it can help someone else. On the less respectable side, the “I know something you don’t know” feeling gives people a sense of superiority. The more insecure they are, the more they want to share their news with others to show just how “awesome” they are.
Tony Montana once said that all he has in this world are his balls and his word, and he “don’t break them for no one.” I may not have balls, but I do have my unbreakable word. I take that very seriously. Once that’s gone, it’s like a crashed hard drive. There’s not much you can do to get it back. And, this is why I will never reveal the identities of any of the people mentioned in this blog, so please don’t bother asking me who they are. My ability to keep a secret is one of the traits I’m most proud of about myself. Winning the arm hang competition in third grade was nothing compared to this.
I dedicate this blog to my fellow vaults. I know who you are, and you know who you are. Enough said.
**Tap on the FOLLOW button at the bottom of your phone or computer. (Move your finger or mouse around, and FOLLOW will appear if it’s hidden.) You have to open the email the site sends you to complete the FOLLOW process. Thank you from this woman and her popped cork.