…just might not do anything.
While yesterday we looked at the twisted practice of qualifying the good with the bad to preclude and temper judgment, today we look at the equally common, but more recognizable, qualifying the bad.
Hello. My name is Mud. I am self-deprecating.
Anyone who knows anyone who has ever been to a 12-step meeting know this line. The first step to rectifying a problem is identifying it. There is a world of difference between admitting something in healing and admitting something when you are introduced to someone new.
All of us would like to enjoy some modicum of privacy. In the advanced age of databases, frankly, there is very little which is truly private any longer…even if you did not post every bowl of cereal to Facebook.
We keep some actions private out of modesty (thank you very much) and others out on the principle of need to know, but the vast majority out of guilt, shame and self-defense.
The Veil of Intrigue
Most of these secrets are the self-defense kind. They are the things in our past which society considers mistakes, but netted us a boatload of guts, charisma or character. We allude to them when someone compliments us, but wait until Quaint has made a faux pas before we share all of the gory details, removing the veil.
The shameful secret is the most qualified. In case you did not know, all “but”s are cracked. This game of societal stick-and-move is backward because we slam Quaint with the roundhouse of secret and follow with a flurry of light jabbing excuses.
Lost Upriver in Egypt
These are the monsters who go bump in our nightmares. We come to a point where we realize there is no escaping those behaviors which make us feel truly guilty. When we finally embrace them as acts which changed us at a fundamental level, they become freeing.
However, when we meet someone new, we often fall into a trap. We know this act is going to garner negative judgment the moment it is revealed, especially if it is revealed in a way which makes us look like we were hiding it. To switch tracks before the inevitable train wreck, we blurt out our admission to Quaint.
Holy TMI, Batman!
Quaint knows nothing about you upon which to form an opinion. Dropping a nuclear bomb to assuage possible future guilt is wholly selfish. Before you decide to tell your darkest secret (and the myriad excuses to mitigate it), ask yourself the following:
- Do I intend to build a long lasting relationship with Quaint?
- Is this the place to reveal such a secret?
- Am I willing to be judged for a total lack of foundation?
- Is this information going to edify my relationship with Quaint?
- Could this information trigger an unexpected, negative emotional response for Quaint?
- Do I need preemptive forgiveness from Quaint for this action or am I looking for forgiveness I have refused to give myself?
- Would I want to know something of this magnitude from a total stranger?
- By admitting this, will Quaint judge me more favorably for my minor indiscretions?
Have you considered telling Quaint you are a child of rape may stir unhealed memories of a sister’s assault? Or that coming clean about your vandalism days may sink Quaint back into a recent depression about the arson of the family home which claimed the life of a companion?
Seeking preemptive forgiveness is asking someone who does not know you to enter the past, judge you on events to which one was not party and assess your successful survival which in no way bears on Quaint.
Before you admit the heinous to make yourself look and feel better or make your more mundane misbehavior more palatable, consider carefully how the information may strike a complete stranger.
If you have missed any of the first six installments of the Identity Series, please visit the posts below:
The comments are always key to how we get to next post. Feel free to comment on the past posts as well as this one. This series will go on hiatus in the interest of covering other subjects, but will return in the New Year to cover some of the questions spawned in the comments thus far and to this post.
Have you ever admitted something to an acquaintance and gotten an unexpected result? Does admitting your largest slayed demon change your perception of yourself? What is something you would not want to know about Quaint at first meeting?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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