Secrets. Such a fascinating concept. Have you ever been asked to keep a secret? I know I have. I have recently realized that I have had a long and painful relationship with secrets; mine, others but most compelling those of family members. My nickname is “The Vault” and I assure you I am an initiated member in that “secret” society where someone confesses to horrifying thoughts or frowned upon actions then, like a priest, I was expected to “never tell ANYONE!” , and except for my business life, I am officially renouncing my membership here.
Yes, the sign above is correct because I offer my experiences to you for what I now know they were. Toxic materials that I did not have protection from. Year after year I was affected by the burden of these secrets that I had no business carrying, yet I did.
My earliest memories of keeping secrets took place in company with my little friends pre-kindergarten. Growing up the sheltered, introverted “Good Girl” I found myself following along on adventures that the extroverted kids cooked up. Secrets sounded exciting and made me feel special even important.
One day out of the blue an older (& I thought wiser) neighbourhood girl decided that three of us girls should make a pie for a boy down the street.
I made sure to pay close attention as at six years of age, this girl was obviously very smart. I had watched my mother bake pies and it looked really hard!
As I leaned in for the instructions I was shocked to discover that this undertaking would not involve a kitchen or even assistance from anyone’s mother. To top it off, I was told that this whole pie escapade was a secret and that meant I should never ever tell anyone. Oh my, my four year old mind was struggling to absorb this agenda when the real shocker was revealed.
The pie was a mud pie. Whaaaat? Her voice got quieter and more excited as she revealed the plan. It was simple, put some dirt and water in a pie plate, stir it up and feed it to the unsuspecting boy, who I should add was my age and very quiet. I was dumbstruck as to why anyone would imagine such a thing and was told it would be funny. That answer just confused me more. The plot unfold exactly as was planned the very next day. I observed that the climax was less dramatic than was expected, the poor victim tasted the mud right off, put the spoon down and went home. Hmmm, this introduction to the oddities of human nature still has me shaking my head.
I remember keeping the secret about how much pain I was in after a horse stepped on my 12 year old foot. I limped through the masses of strangers at an extended family gathering and finally located my mother, who, fortunately for me, was a nurse. She bandaged up my foot and I allowed myself a small breakdown into tears. The rest of the day’s experience escapes my memory but the important thing was I did not burden anyone else and distract from their good time.
By my mid-teens I was primed for the “Big Family Secret”. Horrified to discover my parents were not in love and my mom was extremely traumatized, I held that one in for two excruciating years. Oh but this was just the beginning of the big girl secrets I was to collect. A number of years later, Marcia confessed that she was proposed to 3 times before agreeing to get married. “NEVER tell ANYONE!” There was so much drama around this that it freaked me out but I sucked that one into the vault. Next was Dean, who angrily told me that his girlfriend was pregnant, but he was going to “take care of it” and he never wanted anyone to know that she was ever pregnant. “You can’t tell anyone Iris!”
As someone who thought that easing the burdens of others by listening to them complain, trash other people and yell at me was an aspect of love, I can assure you that I was dead wrong. Believing that others needed my “oxygen mask” actually worked really well for the people who unburdened their troubles on me. Their lives flourished whereas I found it harder to paste on a smile, and life took on the experience of grey and depression. I lost interest in many pastimes and developed Chronic Fatigue by age 40.
What have you experienced with big secrets in your life? Recognizing that I choose to take on secrets and resigning from toxic dumping on my good nature has freed incredible amounts of life force for me and the best part is the colors are back in my world, what a joy! Please share below how this post triggers your experience of secrets. Did you keep them? Share them?
–No names have been changed in this post because I have released the life crushing burden of protecting those from my past who took advantage of my innocence and big heart.