I’ve kept a lot of secrets in my life. Am I ashamed of them? Not really. Not of their content or the reason for keeping them. Mostly I’m ashamed that I felt I had to keep them.
I kept the secret that I was sexually abused as a pre-teen. I kept that secret until I was in college and was able to tell my mom, who was very supportive. It made me a stronger person to be able to admit it and not be judged or disrespected, for sure, but it also made the idea that I was a victim of something horrific more solidified in my heart. It made me a little weirder than I would have been, I think. I’m more paranoid, anxious, and untrusting than I would imagine myself being if I’d grown up unbothered from the goofy, bookish ten-year-old I once was. I was never really “ashamed” of what happened. I was more ashamed that I felt I couldn’t tell people (and there are still people I can’t tell, nor will I) what happened. Why wouldn’t they love me anyway? Why shouldn’t I be so wonderful that they’d automatically take my side? But the world doesn’t work that way and probably never will. I’m more or less settled. Sure, it made me different, but I like me.
I kept the secret that I was physically abused by a teenage boyfriend. It happened once and I ended it with a lot of big words and unsubtle threats. No shame.
I kept the secret that I was an LGBTQ supporter and activist from my family and people in my community for a while. It was a decision I regret making because what kind of supporter is hard core about something when she’s in an environment that’s supporting what she’s supporting and then hides from people when she’s in a different one? Well, I live in a red state. Red enough to be called crimson, maybe. I’m not religious like my community, I’m not political like my community. There are definitely people who think like me here- I have a lot of neat friends. However, my general environment is very conservative and very anti-gay. I’m not either of those things and I have, in the past, taken measures to hide my membership in PFLAG and other organization because I didn’t want to bear the brunt of the conversion talk or the genuine disgust I’ve been on the receiving end of since I started being honest. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t start conversations about Pride parades, but I don’t hesitate to stand up or make a comment or answer a question honestly anymore. I do feel ashamed of myself for keeping this one. My heart is genuinely and honestly assured that I’m on the side of love in this argument and I should have been stronger and more of an example.
Not much else about me is a secret- I have an anxiety and panic disorder, I take medication, I have endometriosis and fibroids, I eat too much and don’t exercise enough. I love television and tend to gravitate toward wanting people to love each other on all of them. I’m a member of many geeky fandoms. I met my best friend (who I intend to keep forever whether she wants me or not) on the Internet in the Queer as Folk fandom. I love people WAY too easily and I want to bond with pretty much everyone I meet. I love kids, but I don’t have any internal drive to have my own. I sometimes question whether my husband is really real because he tries so hard to keep my sane and happy that it’s pretty much unbelievable. I hate mayo. I don’t eat red meat or pork.
Secrets are important, but when we keep them about ourselves, we have to be careful that we aren’t keeping them from ourselves. One of the reasons I told me mom about my abuse is because I realized I was hiding it from myself as well. It was like a slow, inky disease that would occasionally grasp at my heart and leave me in such despair that my thoughts became disordered. Once told, it dissipated. It dissolved. It was almost like watching poison being drained from a wound. I was clean again.
People will judge you. Always. You can care or not. For some of us, it’s so very hard to not care. I promise, though, that it eventually makes you a better person. If someone vehemently disagrees with something that you consider a part of who you are or what you believe, well, let them. They’ll survive. If they try to change you, they’re not for you. They can’t know you because they want to change you and if you’re like me and need outside validation, you’re going to need people who are willing to know you.
And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
That the dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it’s a very, very
If you want to be known, you may have to tell your secrets sometimes. It’s fine. Do it if you can. Sometimes it makes the dreams different. Sometimes it makes the world less mad and your circles straighten out and life moves forward.
It’s okay to want to and it’s okay to try.
If you try, and fail, don’t stop trying if you don’t want to. Sometimes things don’t work the first time. Actually, a lot of things don’t. If you have secrets that you need or want to tell, keep trying. Be known.