Thursday, April 24, 2008
PSSST, CAN I TELL YOU A SECRET?
This is what's been going on lately--- everyone wants to tell me their secret. I don't mean little stories that they've been meaning to tell their best friend or their shrink or even their trainer--- those earrings they stole from a local store, or the co-worker they kissed at a holiday party, or the gossip they've been spreading about an office mate.
No, I mean full-on, BIG stories, huge secrets that they have never shared with a soul before. Stories about cheating and binging and lying and more. Stories about bags of stolen money stashed in the basement behind the boiler, or husbands that are secretly gay and having numerous affairs with married men, or obsessions that border on psychosis. Stories that make me blush, which is no easy feat. Stories that I will take to my grave, because that's part of why they're telling me--- because they know I will not tell a soul.
Because I was honest in my memoir, Hats & Eyeglasses, because I let it all hang out, and, most importantly, because I admitted that I had never told anyone about my own problem, people feel that they can share anything with me. So they email and tell me that they are staying up all night for 5 days in a row playing online poker and then walking into the operating room to do surgery, or that they have stolen their kids college fund and put it into a slot machine in the local casino. They stop me at the post office and ask if they can meet me for lunch. I can see the look in their eyes, the furtiveness, the tears welling up. And part of me wants to run away. I'm afraid that their secrets will overwhelm me, that I'll take on their problems as my own. But I listen, because I wish that when I was in trouble--- when I was playing poker online and lying and afraid all the time--- there was someone I could have opened up to. Do I think that would have changed the outcome? No, not at all. But I think that it might have moved things along, and that when people tell me their dirty little (and big) stories, it brings them one step closer to stopping.
At least that's what I tell myself.
Posted by Martha Frankel at 1:43 PM