keeping secrets

Do you have any secrets? Can you keep one? When I was a kid I was horrible at keeping secrets. I'd always tell my brother what he was getting for Christmas, even though my mom told me it was a secret. I'd tell my friend's deepest darkest secrets...well as deep and as dark as you can get at age twelve. I just couldn't keep my mouth shut no matter how hard I tried. Once when I was about 14 I saw my friends whispering to each other but as soon as they saw me, they stopped. "What were you talking about," I asked them. "Oh NWC we can't tell you because you cannot keep a secret," they replied. "Of course I can," I promised even though history had shown my lips were rarely ever sealed. They refused to let me in on their secret and I was left an outsider. I was devastated and I made a vow that I would learn to stop 'telling secrets'. I started with little things like not telling my mom where my brother hid her cigarettes and I moved on to bigger things like not telling my mom that my dad received secret calls from various women while she was away at work. I got pretty good at not 'spilling' and eventually I earned the trust back from my friends. When I was 15 my best friend was having some family issues at home. Her father was an alcoholic, I, better than anyone, could relate to how she felt. We used to pretend that we lived in a far away place where no one knew our name, our history, our family. A place where there were no parents fighting, no doors slamming, no tears shed over what was...only hope of what could be. Although I knew these were fantasies that would most likely never come true, my friend became obsessed with finding a way to make them reality. One night while she was sleeping over, we lay in bed telling secrets. I told her about the crush I had on our History teacher, she told me about losing her virginity to the boy next door. I told her that I took twenty dollars from my mom's purse, she told me she wanted to die. I wasn't sure what to say, I was 15. She told me about how she just couldn't imagine living in a world with so much pain. Part of me understood, my own world was filled with pain but still, taking your own life, I was too much of a coward for that. I hugged her and told her that it would be ok, it's all I knew to say. Even though I knew that pain could consume you, I still believed that some day, it would go away or at least - hurt less. In the morning when we woke up she made me promise that I wouldn't tell anyone her secret and since I'd become such a good secret keeper, I never told anyone those things she whispered. I look back now and I wonder why I couldn't distinguish between keeping a secret and telling the truth to save someone. I guess when you are 15 the fear of being an outcast is enough to over shadow any truth that needs telling.

My friend would be 38 years old today, if I didn't keep a secret.

Secrets can destroy things. We keep them out of fear, out of loyalty, out of shame. We keep them because if people knew our deepest and darkest secrets, they might not love us anymore. We keep them from friends, for friends, because we're friends; we keep them because we're afraid of change. We keep them and we keep them and we keep them. We've all become champion secret keepers. Something to be proud of?


  1. NML said...
    Gosh that's so sad. You're so right about secrets, but I guess at that age, it would be difficult to be wise enough to recognise that it wasn't the sort if secret that you keep. Had she told you that at this age, you'd have a very different reaction. You were 15 and it was a mighty responsibility. You have been through a lot! {hug}
    Anonymous said...
    We are split apart in life not always knowing which half to keep and which half to let go.
    Anonymous said...
    If this guilt is something you have been harbouring for all these years I hope you will find the strength and courage to forgive yourself and let it go.
    You are not to blame.
    If I had asked my best friend if she was using,I still would not have been able to stop her from dying of an overdose.
    She would have turned 36 last Nov.
    I know I could not have saved her.
    I wish you love and comfort today.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Da Gal said...
    Once again - I feel like your words could be my own. I knew three people who committed suicide while I was in high school and I think it is natural to wonder how your actions/lack of actions impacted what happened.

    I don't know that you are looking for advice so I will refrain from offering.

    I know that the netchic that I know is a kind, loving, caring woman and that you do the best you can given the set of circumstances you are working with at any given time.

    Take care of yourself and celebrate the part of your friends life that you were a part of.
    Shannon said...
    tough painful stuff...
    WDKY said...
    This is no place for meaningless platitudes, but you know well enough that you can't take responsibility on your own shoulders... not for everyone, and not when you were 15.

    The most we can hope for is that we learn something valuable from these things that happen around us as we continue our journey. As we learn, we begion to understand how we can impact those things in a positive way... that's not so bad, is it?
    Caterpillar said...
    I'm so sorry, NWC. At 15, you had already had to deal with so much, and then that.

    However, like WDKY said, this isn't something that you should take responsibility for. Life can be really confusing sometimes, and people make different choices in how to act and react. And not to belittle it or place blame, but it was her choice at the time. And you were only 15.

    I wish I could say something to make you feel better!
    e.e. said...
    No matter what we do, or say, we cannot change or control what others do. Like you posted before... we can control pretty much only our own behavior. And even THAT is a tall order, some days.

    Sigh. I have much heaviness on my shoulders too, and there is only grief when I think about it.
    We can only share, and commiserate, and live life to the fullest now... right? Right.
    NMAMFQLMSH said...
    Wow sweetie that was sad. I don't really know what to say. Sometimes the pain is so great that a young mind doesn't understand there is always a better time coming. The poor kid. You were her friend and that is what is important. You saw her and I see you.
    Spider Girl said...
    This was a very moving post.

    All I can say is that it's hard to see into the hearts and minds of others, especially when you're 15.

    It's not your fault.
    muylajuana said...
    That is just so sad. Like others, I hope you are not harbouring guilt. And if you are, after all these years, that you'll go talk to a therapist or a priest or someone. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself.
    Fitèna said...
    This is a beautiful post. I saved the link as a favourite from random blogs and ack here today. Am glad I did.
    Your friend would have een 38 today but just think about how many people are going to read this post and realise they should talk about what's happening to THEIR friends. Thanks to your post.

    k o w said...
    You shouldn't have to bear the weight of this. You were 15 years old. We all say stupid things when we're that age and at the time you probably thought it was just another secret of hers that she would never act upon. Cast off the chains NWC.
    Networkchic said...
    Thanks for all your well wishes. I've tried for many years not to feel guilty but just as I start letting go the guilt, I start to feel guilty for moving on. Realistically I know that I could not have prevented her death and that it wasn't my fault I kept her secret but still, looking back, it was such a hard lesson to learn about keeping secrets. I just know that every year on her birthday I have to remember her, it seems the least that I can do.
    ~TVS said...
    No advice. You know what to do. Thanks for sharing. {NWC}

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