Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Sunday, April 03, 2005

"Nothing more complicated than simple perception"

You're reading this post; and I have absolutely no idea *why*. Not that my not knowing is necessarily a bad thing, mind. ;-) My point is that you have your own reason for reading it, I don't know what your reason is, and that makes it rather difficult for me to continue earning the right to consume a few moments of your time by writing more posts that you'll choose to read. Instead, I have to conjecture why you might be reading my words, and decide how to continue that happy circumstance. While I would love to know your reasons, it's also curiously therapeutic *not* to know, and to play this game of conjecture. Tonight, I'm working on the hypothesis that one of the things that people find even slightly noteworthy about my writing is the way I look at things, i.e. the things I notice, the inferences I draw, and what I *do* about those inferences. Maybe I see and hear the same things as the next person, but I just respond to them differently. I noticed something yesterday which led me to feel great joy for someone, because it marked, I believe, a small but significant advance in their ability to get the most out of life; and at the same time, it made me think of a contrasting case, where someone of my acquaintance has, I think, a "deep, dark, secret" (or so they think; if I'm right, it's one of the worst-kept secrets *I've* ever seen), and their desperate fear of that secret getting out seems to greatly handicap their ability to enjoy life. Which makes me very sad, for them.

Why do we keep secrets about ourselves? I'm not referring to the simple secrets of daily life (such as what you've bought a loved one for a birthday present); no, I mean the secrets about aspects of ourself that we 'd rather were not common knowledge. Maybe, because we think it's nobody else's business but our own. Maybe because we fear the consequences (to ourselves, or to others) that might follow, *if* those secrets became public knowledge. Maybe because the information we hold secret has been entrusted to as with a solemn entreaty not to tell anyone else. There may be other reasons, but when I think about the secrets I keep or have kept, they seem to fall into those categories.

Personally, if someone entrusts me with a secret, I'll guard that secret to death. Whether or not I agree with their reasons for keeping it secret. I get a little annoyed when people make me privy to some information, and *then* entreat me to keep it secret; thanks a bunch, you've just added to my burden! ;-) If there's some reason why you want me to know, but then keep it to myself, I'd rather that you ask me first if I mind keeping your secret, before revealing it to me; that way, I can decline if I choose, and you don't have to tell me. Keeping someone else's secret, though, attests to your qualities of trustworthiness and faithfulness, and I respect that. To me, the problems arise from secrets which fall into the other two categories.

Because, in my opinion, secrets obtain power over us; more particularly, the fear that those secrets will become known spawns an intangible enemy whose harmful effect can far outweigh the actual consequences which might follow if the secret were uncovered. Not good.

I speak from experience. Between 1993 and 2003, I lived in mortal dread of the "terrible secret" of my transgendered status becoming known. I imagined all kinds of terrible consequences which would follow if that secret became public knowledge; tabloid newspapers camped out on my doorstep (or worse, the doorsteps of my friends and loved ones)... ostracism... discrimination... violence... the whole nine years. So, I took the understandable precaution of keeping that terrible secret locked up tighter than a drum. Oh, *that* was a strategy that really served me well! ;-)

But when I stopped keeping my "terrible secret", did the sky fall in? Did my life descend into pits of torment? Hardly! Suddenly, I was able to be as open or not as I chose; the fact is, it was no big deal to others. But, more than that, the intangible enemy vanished at a stroke. What was there to fear from discovery when there was nothing left to be discovered?

So, while it's tempting to keep aspects of yourself secret... it's also dangerous. I urge you, try to think of the very worst that could happen if your secret was discovered; notch the throttle back to reality a little, and try to establish what happened to others (who kept a similar secret to your own) when *their* secret was revealed (whether by their choice or not); and compare that with the damage that your own fear of your secret being discovered is actually having on you. If the maths don't equate, ask yourself whether you are in charge of your secrets; or are your secrets in charge of *you*.

Anyway... today, I saw a tiny but significant sign of someone loosening their grip on their own "terrible secret"; a secret which (to me, at least) seems no big deal at all. And I believe (and hope) that the person concerned will be repaid many times over in peace of mind and simple pleasure from life, by being less burdened by their secret than they were. Respect!

Which is a sad contrast with another person of my acquaintance, whose "terrible secret" seems to consume them. To the best of my knowledge, all of the mutual acquaintances I share with that person believe the same as I do, that this "terrible secret" is a reality; and to none of us it is anything other than an aspect of the person, no more or less noteworthy than the colour of their hair or the size of their shoes. But the person concerned carries this burden around like Atlas carrying the world on their shoulders, and seems to live a pale shadow of a life as a result.

I weep in sadness for the person concerned.

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  • At 7:30 pm, Blogger James Snape said…

    Ohhh.. Two people, two secrets and we have so many mutual acquaintances... :-)

    I think it's neither worse to have to keep a secret nor not be told about it. It's worse to know there is a secret but not the details... But I guess that's just me. I love gossip...

    (How many double negatives - sorry)

  • At 7:34 pm, Blogger Koan said…

    No names, no pack drill. The secrets and the names aren't important; the *effects* of those secrets are the point.


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