Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Unsayable

Why is anything unsayable?

Because of the secrets we keep, that’s why.

We learn right from the get-go to keep secrets. Secret keeping is pervasive among human beings. It is pervasive in our largest institutions - think governments and (need I mention) the Catholic Church. Secrets are pervasive in our work environments, think high-profile, long-term employees leaving the company. We’ve all seen this happen. Never thought he’d leave wow I wonder what’s going on. He sneaks out the door one day, an email is sent out from the high-ups telling us that he’s left and using some stock language to thank him for his years of service and how much we have enjoyed working with him and then he’s gone, never to be heard from again. And the rest of us employees who apparently do not warrant an honest explanation are left to speculate and rumors are left to fly and people are left with an un-easy feeling about their own job security. Secrets.

Secrets are pervasive in our homes. As children we learn from a very young age that we aren’t privy to the secrets our parents keep but we know they are there. Our parents keep their secrets, sometimes between themselves and away from the kids and sometimes they keep them from each other and (worse yet) secrets are sometimes kept between one parent and a child and away from the other parent. When I was growing up my house was constant secrets. My mother has always been a staunch keeper of secrets. Still is.

It is through this phenomenon of secret keeping that so much of our personal experience becomes unsayable.

Unsayable in that we have learned to keep it wordless. Unsayable in that the effect of learned secret keeping causes us to detached internally, psychically from the things that need saying and therefore we lose the connection to those things that need saying simply because we have gotten the message from every direction and however subtly that we are to keep our secrets.

I don’t get it.


  1. Hey JSS,
    It's an interesting point that there is a link between the 'secrets' in the family and the things that we now, can't say/find that we no longer have words for.
    Id never thought of it like that before.

    My family were excellent at secrets.
    Fortunately, the secrets were always there 'to protect' a person...
    Phew! That worked well.

    Secrets have a way of finding out the people who they are being kept from and devestating them far more than if they had been allowed to roam free in the first place (in my experience, that is).

    Hope yo are doing ok JSS.
    Thinking of you.


  2. Hi WS - secrets also require a lot of effort to keep. Just because we harbor them we do not stop thinking about them. They are always there in our minds and we frequently have to make a conscious effort so that they don't slip out. They require so much effort and can cause so much damage in various ways I do not understand why we have allowed them to be so pervasive.