Puzzle Pieces

We all have our secrets. The things we don’t want people to know, that we reveal to a select few, or to no one at all. We see our secrets as shameful; we hide them because we fear others reactions’, because we’ve done something wrong. Because we think they’re proof that something is wrong with us.

There is safety in secrets. We avoid humiliation, judgment, confrontation, and vulnerability. That security is also a prison. Secrecy keeps us from being honest with each other and to some degree, ourselves.

I have a high disclosure rate. There isn’t much I keep to myself. As WH so eloquently puts it, I’m ” a talker”. Discussing my thoughts and feelings, problems and questions helps me make sense of them, make decisions, heal, understand and let go.

Still, I hide. My way of hiding is to show different people different pieces to my puzzle. I don’t know that there is much, if anything, that no one knows about me. Only WH comes close to knowing everything. A select few have been given a lot of pieces, some of them important and secret pieces, but there are still holes in their picture of me.

This blog has more puzzle pieces than any one person. It’s still missing my tone, inflection, gestures, and I do keep some secrets from you. But it’s a more complete picture, I think, than I’ve given any one person ever in my life. That’s why I’ve kept this place semi-anonymous, to keep the people in my life from putting the whole puzzle together.

I give people the pieces I think they can handle, the pieces they want to have, that I want them to see. Letting anyone put the whole puzzle together means risking rejection of my whole self, my very being. Showing people all of my fears, wishes, and the parts of my story that still ache around the edges gives them the power to hurt me. It’s a road map to my weakest points.

There is so much power in secrets. When we share a secret, we risk betrayal. As I recount the secrets I hold for others, and the ones I’ve shared, it’s easy to see the vulnerability in keeping secrets. There always exists the possibility that confidences could be betrayed, that pieces of people’s puzzles, my own included, could be given to people that have no businesses having them.

A great girl told me this week that she keeps as few secrets as possible. It keeps people from having power over her, and if they don’t like her- all of her- it becomes obvious quickly. This perspective sent me over the mental edge I’ve been teetering on for a long time now.

I don’t want to hide anymore. I don’t think there’s any reason for it. I don’t know that it even works. In the past week, I’ve had about a half a dozen people offer up their differing opinions of me, and a few of those people had impressions of me that I didn’t think they had enough information to form. Perhaps I fool myself into thinking that I don’t reveal as much as I really do.

Either way, somehow it’s just not a matter of trust anymore. Rather than deciding what people can handle and what they can’t, I’m ready to allow them to make that decision for themselves. Come what may. I will still keep some secrets, because everyone does, but this blog and the different roles and parts of my life won’t be secret by default anymore.

Yesterday, someone told me a huge secret. A huge, ugly, horrible secret that still has me reeling. What amazes me is the willingness of people to bear incredible pain and misery to keep a secret- the kind of secret whose misery is born not of the secret itself, but the isolation, repression and shame of secrecy. It is not my story to tell, but my heart breaks for the prisoners of this secret, which brought into the light, is not such a horrible thing.

This week leaves me sitting here now thinking that I’m so very grateful to be in this place, of being comfortable enough with who I am and what I do to own it. Hearing someone’s secret, feeling the pain they must be enduring, and my own pain at not being trusted with this secret by its prisoners, and knowing that the secret itself is not the end of the world- even if it seems that way? Just convinces me all the more that I’m not doing myself any favors by hiding. I’m lucky enough not to have to.

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11 Responses

  1. secrets are the devil.

  2. I totally agree!

  3. The pieces that get me are the ones I don’t even know about myself. I consider myself pretty self actualized, but there are times when parts of me I didn’t know were there come to the forefront.
    Recently, I found out I have a limit I didn’t know I had. It was a piece of me missing, absent, so deep inside me I was completely oblivious to it.
    That’s the REAL reason I have relationships. It’s not that another person has the piece to make me complete, but with them, I may reveal a hidden piece within myself.
    None of that may make sense, but I’m glad you blogged this.

  4. I have my secrets that I wish I could just let go of, but yo know what? I really don’t think I can. And I’m not really keeping them for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Sometimes, it’s just easier to take the pain myself than to risk bringing the pain on someone else.

  5. Secrets are definitely tough and, at times, dangerous things. We probably like to keep them because we’re afraid of putting ourselves and our truths out there, lest we get hurt because of them.

    But being open and living open, without secrets (or huge ones at least), is a much easier and more comfortable thing to do. That’s one of the great things about a blog and set ups like this- they’re relatively anonymous so there’s a confessional element to the whole thing, you know?

  6. Secrets are indeed dangerous– but the truth can be more so. A certain amount of secrets keep us insulated, protected. Of course, the thing about secrets is that they rarely ever truly are.

  7. I have been reading your blog, and found that your writing style is so full of insight that I am amazed. You tap into the depths of all of us and reaching in, pull out something that is thought provoking to a very satisfying degree. I enjoy your writing and the eyes that you see life through. Keep it coming as it is rich with details that many of us don’t take the time to think about unless prodded. Thanks for poking us to think, and to be supremely entertained as well.

  8. I missed your writing– this is a wonderful post.
    I admire this kind of commitment to honesty with yourself. I used to be a huge self-discloser, and then I ricocheted. It sometimes surprises me how close I am to people who know so little about my rough parts.

  9. I don’t have any secrets of my own. Others? Yes… but my own I can’t seem to hold onto.

  10. One of the most awesome aspects of having a blog is being able to reveal secrets that I perhaps wouldn’t have the courage to reveal face to face with the people I care about.

    Keeping my own secrets is fine. Holding other people’s secrets can be absolutely devastating, and sometimes do real damage. It is a much better idea, in my opinion, to reveal one’s secrets to a public forum, to truly be relieved of those secrets, than to a single person who must carry the burden of being a keeper.

  11. A very wise friend of mine once told me, “We all have a book. Several books actually. Each person we encounter writes a book in their mind about us. It may be long, it may be short. It is always unfair, biased and filled with disinformation. That is because they can never know what is really inside us. Therefore they fill in the gaps with assumptions and misinformation. The tragedy is, we never get to read that book.”

    Always remember that when someone opens up to you and “spills the beans,” as it were, that you are only able to understand what they’ve told you through your own experience. Your version of their book is only as accurate as you have made it. Always leave a little room in your evaluation of that book for the variation that comes with human experience, yours and theirs.

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