With Ann Rickard
With Ann Rickard

Shhhh...Secret’s not safe with me

I HAVE a failing.

Well, I have many failings...zillions of them...but for the moment I'm prepared to tell you of this one only.

I can't keep a secret.

I have never been able to hold information to myself, especially when I have been told to do exactly that.

The moment I know something even remotely gossipy, I feel compelled to tell others. It bursts to get out of me.

Even if the secret is bland I still feel a compulsion to pass it on.

It's an affliction I wouldn't wish on you. The only way I can live peacefully with it is to ask people not to tell me their stuff.

Say the words "this is confidential" to me and I immediately go into a sweat-soaked dilemma. You have put your trust in me and I respect you, but there I am left with the responsibility of this big hush-hush information that desperately wants to get out.

Never say to me "'this must go no further" because I will instantly take it further. As far as I possibly can.

Do not utter the phrase, "this is just between you and me". It will ignite a bushfire in me that will rage out of control until the "between you and me" is out there in the world as "between you, me and the rest of the universe".

Never look me in the eye, lower your voice, and whisper "I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone before." That's gold to the non-secret keeper. Your long-buried information will immediately go out to as wide an audience as possible. (But not on Facebook. I draw the line there.)

Please don't saddle me with a guilty secret you've been dying to get off your chest. You might feel better but what the heck am I to do with the information? Other than embroider it shamelessly and pass it on?

Holding on tight-lipped to peppery gossip is a waste of time in my opinion.

What is the use of knowing something juicy if you can't tell others?

Most of us have experienced the horror of harbouring something scandalous we should never repeat, fighting the urge to blurt it out, and losing the battle.

Good on the disciplined person who can stay quiet when there is much to tell. You have my admiration.

Keeping secrets is agonising. A secret ferrets about inside your head, talking convincingly to you, teasing you, urging you to tell someone else.

To my despair at my lack of discipline, I often catch myself murmuring sotto voce to someone: "now look, I've been told not tell you this which means I'm immediately going to tell you." And off I go.

Imagine if I held a secret vital to the wellbeing of the nation and I was kidnapped by enemies? (You never know.)

My interrogators would have no need to even hint at torture to prise it from me.

They may get me on the water board (if one does actually get on a water board, I'm not sure how it works and I don't want to know) and before they could even approach with a grim look and pair of nail-pulling pliers, I'd be asking them to lean in closer so I could whisper my secrets in their ears.

"Have I told you enough?" I'd say. "Anything more you'd like to know? You can put the pliers away."

However, before you think too badly of me, one thing I have never done and will never do, is pass on something that would hurt someone.

"Mary down the road told me she thinks you're looking a big chubby lately," are words you'll never hear from me.

"Joan next door is wondering why you've aged so much," will never spring from my mouth.

"Julie around the block said your dinner party was the pits," would never get passed my sealed lips.

There is a difference between being bad at keeping secrets and spreading nasty gossip.

Spiteful tittle-tattle repeated is hurtful and the tittle who tattled has no place in my world.

Keep that a secret if you will.

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