Skeletons in our closet can often become our undoing. We hold these deep dark arcanums dear to prevent hurting others and or to prevent unraveling of our relationships or the outward image we portray. Are secrets ever healthy? Can we have healthy secrets for the sake of protection not for ourselves but for others? Should secrets ever be shared for the sake of transparency, as to eliminate any insecurities regarding hidden truths. What happens when the bond of trust is broken for the sake of transparency?
One late evening several months ago The Chad and I were laying restless in bed and we began to have a very raw conversation about secrets. We discussed some details of our secrets that we held to ourselves, the details held no benefit to the other. For some reason at that moment we felt enough trust and security in our marriage to discuss these particulars, sans judgment and bias. After 14 years of marriage we felt we have experienced a great deal together that nothing could break this bond.
However, I struggled with this conversation. I felt as if I was invaded. My secrets are mine. Not that I was proud of these personal mysteries that are a dark part of me, of which I have accepted and have shaped who I am today. Yet these details are nothing I felt needed to be shared aloud, they were particularly crude to relive. The Chad knew of my disfavor after I distributed the details my secrets, explaining some things do not need to be said.
But to what end do we determine what secrets and unknowns to share with our spouse? Our friends? Confidants?
For the last year or so that I have been serving with ministry I have been learning about secrets, self identity. As I have matured as a woman, mother, human, my understanding of secrets has greatly evolved. I used to keep secrets because of my own personal insecurities and damning actions. Something I held to myself that would greatly hurt others because my actions, beliefs, knowledge of this secret could or would cause irreparable pain. Secrets formerly meant something sinister was afoot, a wrong doing of sorts. Now my secrets are not to protect myself, as a “save my own ass from implicative actions”, but to protect others, to protect their identity. I keep secrets to protect the vulnerability of others, albeit a paladin to the dark part of themselves that they accept are part of their fiber as mortals but no longer entertain the dooming actions or way of life.
I am humbled to be entrusted with these people in my life, whether directly or indirectly, and their secrets. Humbled because they felt my love was genuine and strong enough to withstand their naked truths. I am also taken aback by those who lack the maturity, application and mutual respect to hold my naked truths.
A recent road trip proved to release an unnecessary pink elephant that The Chad and I weren’t interested in conversing over with almost total strangers. Crucial conversations happen all the time in our home. I am no stranger to confronting conflict like a freight train, straight at the situation without stopping. However, possessing enough emotional intelligence to gauge the venue of which to have those conversations is cardinal for a productive outcome. Sadly, the venue presented itself when our opinion of one of our friend’s brother was shared openly, at a celebration of life (funeral).
Aghast at the confrontation of our secret. All I could do was to remain calm in the face of the girlfriend (the confronter) to the brother whom which we carried a secret. Reassuring her that the details, of our secret, were taken out of context. In an effort to thwart what could be an escalating situation, I flatly explained our entitlement to our opinion without malice and the conversation was had in confidence. At the same time I found the “tattle tale” style blathering to be abhorrent. An assumed, confidential conversation, in which we shared a bold, albeit distasteful, opinion of this brother. The actions were intolerable, childish at best. I could only speculate what would behoove our closest friends to break our covenant of trust. Or maybe we made an assumption that something, this “secret” of our opinion, such as this just didn’t need to be said or shared and they would mutually respect and acknowledge this view. Better, maybe we could have kept our big mouths shut…either way…losing battle.
Maybe we overestimated the assumption of emotional intelligence, respect, and confidence. Even with something as trivial as mentioning to your best friend that his brother is an asshat.
How do you overcome a broken bond of trust?
As I mentioned, ministry has assisted my transformation regarding personal confidence. Maturity helps in this aspect as well; recognizing and respecting that not all information is to be freely shared, no matter how anonymous. Our same road trip, The Chad and I discussed his recent mentoring group. The thought is thrilling for me to watch him be a part of a revolutionary group of men that allow him to be beautifully raw and unadulterated in his views, opinions, to be open in the haven of other mutually respecting men. In the midst of our discussion I was intrigued as to the breadth of their conversations, while he was very high level, I used deductive reasoning. Segue into the confidentiality agreement and covenant he is required to sign and the clause that he cannot share details with me. Considering I had already read and signed the agreement before he did, I was grinning ear-to-ear like the Cheshire cat noshing the canary at the sheer pleasure.
Quieting my joy, I listened as The Chad began to detail the reason for the covenant, of which I already knew the reasoning, but hearing the details aloud are always helpful. He mentioned that secrets, stories, moments in our lives do not always paint us in the perfect light. (Preaching to the choir) Sadly, not everyone has the maturity, awareness or where with all to accept we are all broken. If details were to be shared outside of their fraternity, this could then be sideways into gossip…even trivial details. Especially since a portion of the men in his group have crossed my path directly or indirectly as well as their wives of whom I am friends with. All tangled together in this small world of ours. Additionally, some details are not theirs to share with others, but to take in as listening and self reflection.
A part of me only wished that our friends knew and acknowledged these same contractual bonds. No anger or ill will is felt, but definitely a sense of mistrust and the overall lacking of security to disclose in a way confidants would normally. More so I am saddened that our level of friendship has been impacted.
As for my marriage. I enjoy that he and I have separate parts of our lives that we do not share with one another. Actually I revel in the fact that I can enjoy a part of me aside from him. From our children. From our friends. Even though we are married and even though we have deep relations with one another, with friends.
I suppose with any relationship, albeit casual and or professional, boundaries need to be set in order to determine clear lines. Boundaries could be the cornerstone to convalescing broken bonds of trust. But how does one repair even the most trivial levels of trust? When loyalty, trust and respect are so highly valued in any relationship, how can anyone shrug off a simple betrayal? Maybe I am looking at this too intently, but I would hate to trust someone with something more sensitive, high valued, precious, only to be betrayed again. How do you deal with betrayal? Even betrayal on the most juvenile level?