catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 14 :: 2014.07.11 — 2014.07.24


A secret prison

I hate secrets. There, it’s out. I know that secrets can bill themselves as a trust, a gift. We tell ourselves that someone must love me a lot to let me in on that kind of secret, and we never recognize that sometimes, in reality, those secrets are little more than some kind of blackmail.  The secret looms larger than life in its power, its hold over us.

Let me give you an example, and understand that I am using real life examples from decades in student services. It was April. It always was April.  The students had fewer than five weeks before they all went their separate ways, and the secrets had become too heavy. Oh, for weeks or more likely, months, they had known the secret, but they thought they could help their friends, and now reality had set in. 

They knew their friend was going to go home continuing to cut, continuing to engage in anorexic or bulimic behaviors, continuing to have sex, continuing to pursue a same sex relationship, or continuing to be pregnant until they could get an abortion. And they also knew, or at least thought, there was no one at home who could help their friend, so they came to my office, without the friend of course. The secret was killing them, and they hoped that I would in the next four or five weeks fix the friend — in some cases, only after I figured out who the friend was, because that too must remain a secret.

I will never forget the weekend I was told that someone had gone home and was going to have an abortion.  In our college, students leaving campus overnight had to sign out, so I had to quickly (this was Friday afternoon) collect all of the travel forms, filter through them to figure who was the most likely, and then find a phone number for that student. I worked all that afternoon and evening, and, finally certain of who it had to be, I began to make calls.  It was not until late Saturday afternoon that she answered the phone, and I could tell immediately from her voice that I was too late.  I hate secrets.

I hate that we have not helped our young people to understand that secrets are not their friends.  Somehow we must help them understand that the moment we say we will not tell, we have become complicit in the crime or activity, if you will. But somehow, they do not see it that way.  Functioning under childish rules about tattling, they become confused, not understanding that we must veil all promises to keep secrets with the caveat that we will not keep a secret that could harm someone or dishonor God.

So I hate secrets, and I ache for all of those people kept in the dark prison of secret-keeping.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus