I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Telling secrets

Sunrise from my front porch
It doesn't happen often, but this morning I don't have anything to write about. I worried a little last night, thinking that something would occur to me during the night, or I'd have a dream that would point me in a direction, but it didn't happen. So this morning will be a stream of consciousness kind of post, and about what, I have no idea. I'll just... write whatever comes out.

One thing I have been mulling for a while now is the subject of Shame. One of my blogging friends wrote about her ability to keep a secret, and it reminded me of how I cannot. If you ever share something with me that you don't want other people to know, you are in trouble. I don't know why that is, but this has caused me to lose friends and even make a few enemies over the years. A secret, something that other people don't or shouldn't know, just burns inside me until I let it out by telling someone.

Now, having said that, I realize this was true about me many years ago, and I'm not sure that I'm still like that, since I don't actually have people tell me secrets any more. Plus, twenty years ago I married a very private person, someone who has taught me lessons over the years about how to keep things to myself. We have had numerous conversations about this topic, and I now actually feel a source of pride that I don't have to spill the beans, so to speak, every time I open my mouth.

Some people, like me, often speak without thinking. Just like this post, I often don't know for sure what I'm going to say when I begin to talk, and there are times when the subject surprises even me. It's almost as if I sometimes channel thoughts that come from a place I cannot access if I attempt to find it, but that come out unbidden, if I'm not careful.

Years ago, I read the entire Urantia Book, which is over 2,000 pages long and purports to have been written over many years by a man in a trance. He apparently knew nothing about the pages that came from him during the night, but all of these papers were gathered together in the early part of the twentieth century, published in book form, and now those ideas have quite a following. There is now a Urantia Foundation, I guess, and for many years while I lived in Boulder I attended gatherings of people who follow the tenets of the book. The book and its teachings were of great comfort to me at that time in my life.

But it does make me wonder if it's possible for something that huge, that involved, to actually come forth from the same place in that anonymous man's mind that I sometimes access in my own brain. It's really almost as if someone else said those things, although they come out of my own mouth. Or is this just a way for me to feel better about having shared secrets that were not mine to share? It's something I wonder about now and then. The human brain is definitely a mystery in many ways. I've always been fascinated by the unknown.

When I was young, I devoured every science fiction book I could get my hands on. There are themes from those books that I realize are now part of my own thought processes. They are familiar and no longer strange, and it's not possible for me to separate out the ideas that I took on from those books, ideas that someone dreamed up and have no basis in real life. But they seemed real to me at the time and now reside somewhere in the corridors of my mind. I may even have turned the fantasy into reality and have no awareness of it.

I guess where I'm going with this is to wonder whether it's possible for me to have changed enough that I can let go of the shame I associate with the long-ago telling of secrets. At first I tried to wiggle out of it by thinking to myself that I didn't actually have the ability to censor what came out of my mouth, but that's not true. I found a secret to be a burden that I wanted to unload, to get out from under, and telling another person released me from that burden.

There is one secret in particular that I especially regret. I didn't even realize that the person I told used the information to injure the other until much later. It was someone who saw me as a friend, who later told me why she wouldn't talk to me any more, why she hated me so much. I was terribly chagrined, sorry for the pain I had caused, and for many years I suffered when I thought of her. I have tried, in recent years, to find her again, but it's impossible, since women change their last names, to follow the trail of where she is now. I just want to tell her again that I'm sorry.

Perhaps admitting it here will give me some further release from that transgression. In any case, I now think that if someone were to tell me a secret, I would not immediately look for someone to share it with. In fact, now that I think of it, I harbor quite a few secrets that people have told me over the years, and they don't seem to be a burden at all. I'm different now.

And when I started to write this post, I didn't know that. I didn't realize how much I have changed. In fact, I think I can forgive that younger version of myself without any help at all. Perhaps the only thing I needed to do was to write it down and give her a voice, a chance to ask for forgiveness.

When I started this post, I had no idea, really not the slightest, where it would go. Now I actually feel a bit lighter, a bit cleaner, than I did when I began. I hope that this post finds my readers enjoying what is left of the weekend and perhaps a little bit lighter, too.


Teresa Evangeline said...

DJan, This is not only an interesting post, but an important one. I love that you followed your stream of consciousness to this valuable conclusion. You touched on some things I have given much thought to, as well ... what errors have I made that I have not had opportunity to correct. And, I have also studied the Urantia book which lead to further questioning about the nature of reality. Where did we come from, and where will we go ... etc.

I have sometimes written poems that seemed to come from elsewhere. I simply wrote down the words as I received them. I feel they are the strongest poems I've written. Did I write them, or did I receive them from a higher source?

Fascinating ... Thank you for this post. Happy Sunday.

Linda Reeder said...

Like the iPhone that has so many more functions than I actually use, our brains have so much more potential than we use or are aware of. That stream of consciousness, that's all there in our subconscious. just waiting for permission to get out.
I have not thought about myself in terms of being a secret keeper. I guess I have trouble remembering that some things are secret once the secret is added to my repertoire of information.
I don't really like secrets, and I guess if someone is telling me one, then it is really no longer a secret. Even the holder of the original "secret"couldn't keep from sharing it.
That said, self forgiveness is a wonderful thing.

Anonymous said...

I guess we all have been guilty of spilling someone else's secrets. For that reason, I am very careful of what I say to others regarding myself.

Anonymous said...

I am fabulous at keeping secrets of my own as well as those told to me by friends over the years. I do sometimes share things with people that I should not, things about my own life, things that my husband says, "I can't believe you told them that". But not secrets... I never share secrets. I have been hurt by people in the past, not regarding a secret, but simply hurt to the core... if I have hurt anyone deeply, I hope they would say so and allow me to explain or ask them to forgive me. xox

On another note, when searching for someone from the past, I search for their parents' obituaries and the children's names and where they live are generally listed... Just an FYI should you still want to find your old friend... xox

Far Side of Fifty said...

If you want to find your friend email me her name or names that you know and anything else last known residence, birthdate, siblings etc and I will see what I can do. I bet she is not as lost as you think:)

Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes. Thank you dear DJan. This post has lightened my heart this morning.

Arkansas Patti said...

I do hope you find that friend and mend the fences. I am sure if a lot of time has passed that she has probably all ready forgiven you.
I am possibly the world's ultimate secret keeper. If you tell me "not to tell," then your secret may as well be buried at the bottom of the sea. However if you don't tell me "not to tell", it will probably be the subject of my next post.

Red said...

I think many of us could write this post. I think it's part of being human. we look back from a much more mature and grown up position. What we did when we were younger is embarrassing to us. You found a good way to get a load off your mind. Secrets? Never! As a teacher there was a strict professional way about sharing personal information. I just didn't share unless it was another professional who was directly involved. It went a little further with me. I don't gossip. I don't tell things about others. My wife gets upset with me for not revealing information. I am called tight lips.

Retired English Teacher said...

This is truly an interesting post. I don't really like secrets. I'd just soon not be burdened with them. On the other hand, when someone speaks to me in confidence about something that they wish to remain out of the public eye, I am very loyal and have a strong sense of knowing that everything does not need to be shared. I think I developed this when my husband was a principal of a high school. He trusted me with some confidential things on occasion so that he could talk things over. However, he too was such a good person for not sharing confidential things, there were many things that others knew about that he never shared with me because he considered the information confidential.

Secrets are one thing. Confidential information are another. I think it is a fine line sometimes. I just know that I have learned to keep confidences over the years.

Linda Myers said...

These days I am a good secret keeper. I find people will talk to me about things that are important to them if they're confident those things will remain with me.

I love your stream-of-consciousness post today. You touched on an important part of our human condition.

#1Nana said...

Secrets are a burden. Letting go of the things we are ashamed of by letting the secret be told can be a relief. There's not much in my life these days that is secret-worthy...one of the benefits of being a boring senior!

Rita said...

I am honest to a fault with my own life and regularly share things that sometimes shock other people, but I am good at keeping other people's secrets because a person's trust is so important to me. I have always wanted to be a safe place for people...a place where they can say anything, admit anything, without shame. I even periodically destroy people's letters to me so they never have to worry someone else will ever read them--and Dagan and Leah are sworn to destroy any that might be left when I die. Mine--I don't care. I have probably told everything...more than once--LOL! Pretty much an open book.

BTW--I just love your stream of consciousness posts!! :)

Rian said...

Stream of consciousness is a great muse. Many times I'm surprised at where my thoughts go and typing fingers follow. This is not only good psychologically, but also works quite well if writing stories. Characters take on a life of their own... just as your thoughts do... and it is very "free-ing"!

As far as *secrets* go, I'm not sure I have any or know any. I know lots of things that shouldn't be public knowledge, but that's not a secret... it's just common sense.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I really enjoyed your thought process here. I like the way you are able to step back and see the big picture. You have a wonderful ability to put things into words. Incidentally, when opening up your blog this morning, I noticed (in the profile?) that you are a retired writer. I think I've asked you before if you have written books and you may have answered me on your blog but I often forget to go back and look for answers. Anyway, maybe you can tell me next time you comment on mine. I am curious because you are an excellent writer and I would like to check out any books you've written. Back on the topic of secrets: I don't know about other folks, but for myself, I've definitely changed my views on various things over time. It's interesting to reflect back on these things and analyze the process of change. I've never been real good at keeping secrets, but like you, I do think I give more consideration to revealing something as I get older. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and have a good week. John

John's Island said...

Hi, DJan, Thanks for the answer. So, no books, but you surely could write one if you ever decide to do that. I'll bet it would be great! Actually, the way you blog is sort of like writing a book ... each post is a new chapter. Thanks again for sharing. John

Joyful said...

It is so important to make peace with our younger selves. I am good at keeping the secrets of others. My mother is not and we have had a few rows over this including recently when I had news I wanted to share in my own time and she blurted to everyone she came across. Some people don't learn. You seem to have. Good for you.

Buz said...

It's really not fair to burden someone with a true secret. If you truly don't want something to be known, there is no reason to EVER share it with a confidant. If the source of the secret (for whom it should be the most important) could not keep it contained, nobody but the source can be blamed.

Star said...

I can keep secrets. I think it's because I'm an introvert and I tend to keep things to myself. I have noticed that you are very discreet with regard to things I have confessed on my blog. Please don,t beat yourself up any more about something that happened in the year dot.

amanda | wildly simple said...

I've had a quote on my mind (and it's the topic of an unwritten post)
that comes to mind just now..
"I write to discover what I know."

I love that through writing I can sort my thoughts & discover what I know inside (that hasn't yet surfaced.) It's my therapy.

And secrets... I relate. I don't like secrets. I don't like keeping secrets. They weigh me down too. That too, was something I almost started writing about, but because of privacy I wasn't sure if I should. I believe my extended family, my mothers side, holds on to deep family secrets and it's caused so much ongoing hurt & turmoil. I want to tell them all - out with it! I don't think it's healthy to harbor those heavy dark things. Then, too, I'm a fan of privacy, and confidentiality to some level.
Between my sisters & mom & I, I've learned we aren't good at secrets and there's nothing I like less than having someone share a secret with me, but then to say I can't share it too. It just doesn't work.
You've given me good food for thought DJan, with your unplanned thoughts. :)

CiCi said...

About five years ago I read and re-read a book on guilt and shame and was happy to have come upon that particular book. I still have it, but since all books and half my furniture are still in the garage I can't tell you the name of it. When I find it I will tell you.
Secrets don't cause me to squirm or weigh me down as some of the commenters say because the secrets are not "mine", I have nothing invested in them, they are things someone else is dealing with and the person just wanted someone to listen. I can be detached and still be sympathetic to a friend's struggle.
Even when you think you don't have much to write in a post your completed post is so worth reading.