I’m reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. It’s a book about a family, whose lives are influenced by the father’s secret decision to give away his daughter who has Down’s Syndrome. The mother and son (the siblings are fraternal twins) believed that the girl died during childbirth. The story basically showed how the father’s secret has changed their lives indirectly; the couple drifted apart, the son felt unloved… yet, the father felt he made the right decision by giving his retarded (as referred to in the book) daughter away because of his personal experience with his sick sister, who died after living a short life. He felt he was protecting his wife and son from the heartache of living with an ill child, yet life wasn’t better for that – the effect was quiet and negative and intertwined.
The book showed how secrets can make people close up and drift apart and do things to hurt others because of the wall between them. Personally, I found this book depressing, not to my reading taste at all. (I’m always willing to try a highly rated book to check if it’s worth all its hype.) However, it made me realise how destructive secrets can be.
We all have secrets. We need secrets, to protect ourselves from people who may use the knowledge against us if discovered. But sometimes, we have too many secrets. We keep secrets as if it makes us more powerful, to have knowledge others do not have. We keep secrets because people do not appreciate their worth. We keep secrets because nobody wants to know. We keep secrets because we want to put up a façade of being in control. We keep secrets because we fear vulnerablity, and the hurt that may follow from it.
And yet, these are what walls are made of. Secrets. For every secret you keep to yourself and only to yourself, you are putting up a wall. And when you pile that wall with secrets like cement, you are making a shield, an armour, invisible and impenetrable. People cannot hurt you because the wall is so strong and reliable. But people also cannot connect with you because of the wall.
That’s why sometimes I feel so alone. I don’t mean to have so many secrets. Sometimes, there are things I want to tell someone, but the moment isn’t there. Maybe it was, maybe I couldn’t find it. So I keep it, thinking to save it for another day, another moment, except that it never comes for some reason or other. Another unintentional coat of cement on my wall.
Thankfully blogging has stripped my thick wall to something thinner and less suffocating. I could write about things that bother me, that thrill me, that anger me, that excite me, that sadden me, in the simple hope of making a connection with another person, someone who knows what I mean, who has gone through what I have, who feels the same way as I do.
I don’t have to keep it all in. Secrets are precious, but what’s the point of having all that is precious to me without having someone to share it with? It hurts, when my precious secrets are taken lightly, gems which are treated like mere pebbles, but you know what? I rather be hurt, I rather be wronged, than to have to carry my precious gems like a heavy sackful of burden on my own, constantly worrying about them alone because no one else will – how could anyone, if I keep them to myself? It takes a certain kind of strength to display your vulnerability so freely, knowing that you will be hurt, you will be scarred, but also knowing that you will be touched in the process, touched by angels in the guise of ordinary people, bonded by a little secret.