The Burden of Secrets
Shading or trading the true facts of your life in exchange for power and influence is a recurring leitmotif in the relentless self invention of America. It even has its own literacy adjective: Gatsbyesque. The result is a peculiar sort of lie, the square peg of human behavior forced into the round hole of public persona.
Massaging the facts of your life to fit your public positions, rather than the other way around, is a bad, sad deal.
Quotes above are from recent Anna Quindlen column for Newsweek titled: Do as I Say, Not as I Do. Column deals with public officials who say one thing but do another. For example, she talks about Strom Thurmond, zealous segregationist who fathered a black child that he never publicly acknowledged -even after claiming to be a changed person. Rush Limbaugh, who gives everyone (mostly Democrats) a hard time for any wrong doing, yet wants a free pass when it’s found out that he was addicted to pain killers. William Bennett who lectures on the virtues of morality yet is out gambling away millions of dollars. Granted gambling isn’t immoral but we all know that it can be quite addictive which can lead some to immoral behavior. There are other public figures we could throw into the mix. Jesse Jackson for fathering a child outside of marriage. Bill Clinton for bringing disgrace on himself and family — I did not have sex with that woman.
As I reflected on the article, I couldn’t help but think about my own life, my own secrets and those of my family. Secrets that while not on the level as those above, have been such a burden. It’s one of the reasons, why I’ve tried to be more open about my life; more willing to share my personal history; more willing to let people in. It?s one of the main reasons why I started to blog. Sharing my experiences and family history to explain why I am the way that I am, hasn?t always been easy. Even though I?m not a public figure, I obsess about how the secrets if revealed would impact my life. As I often think the worst; this can sometimes be paralyzing. But having revealed a few secrets over the years, I?ve come to realize that in the end, the burden of keeping the secret is often greater than the weight of the secret itself. In addition, in the long run, after the initial embarrassment, it can be quite freeing to have the secret out there. It’s made me more genuine; more human. While I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for everyone to reveal all their secrets, it is my hope to one day reveal all secrets within me. Maybe even on this very website. At the end of my life, whenever that comes, I do not want to go to my grave only to have others later learn that I was a hypocrite.