“The human heart has hidden treasures, in secret kept, in silence sealed; the thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, whose charms were broken if revealed.” ~ Charlotte Bronte

  

 

“In all secrets there is a kind of guilt, however beautiful or joyful they may be, or for what good end they may be set to serve. Secrecy means evasion, and evasion means a problem to the moral mind.” ~ Gilbert Parker

What is the difference between secrecy and privacy? Is privacy a matter of choosing whether or not to share something without fear or shame? Is secrecy choosing to withhold something because of feelings of guilt or embarrassment? 

Or, to reduce it to its most simplistic terms: Privacy is a right to which everyone is entitled; secrecy is a choice made to keep things hidden. That being said, where do the lines blur? When does something private become a secret? I think that it’s a matter of intent. Consider: Is the individual keeping the secret because the relationship could be affected adversely if the information were to be revealed? Conversely, is the information merely something that concerns the individual only and if revealed, would cause no harm? 

One article that I read which addresses this issue was written by a therapist who stated the following: 

Secrecy comes with guilt and fear, while privacy results in a stronger sense of self without guilt. Secrecy is about control and destroys trust, while privacy does not. Secrets are often about addictive behaviors, or old defense mechanisms, while privacy is more often about personal history, values priorities, dreams, and visions of the future. The decision to withhold a secret, or to keep something private, is a choice reflecting our values and emotional maturity. Choosing to share a secret is a healthy and mature act even though it may create conflict. Choosing to keep something private, is our right and privilege, however if we choose to share something personal, it has the possibility of deepening an intimacy. 

“Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” ~ Gautama Siddhartha

When I was growing up and living with my parents, I had no privacy. My mother would search my things, look under my mattress, listen to my telephone calls, read my mail. I was determined that when I had children of my own that I would treat them with the respect they deserved and allow them a sense of privacy. Did I find out things anyway? Of course. But 98 percent of the time, I believed that their privacy was their right as individuals. 

Charles Darwin . . . Shh . . .

Everyone is entitled to privacy. I don’t need to know everything that Corey thinks or says. Having just said that, I also don’t believe that secrets benefit anyone except the secret-keeper because the truth always has a way of revealing itself. Sandra Petronio, a professor of communications at Indiana University-Purdue University, devised a rule-based theory on privacy in 2002 called Communication Privacy Management, or CPM. Essentially, CPM states that individuals own information until they decide to share that information with someone else. Underpinning CPM is the idea that information is shared based on a set of rules. 

For example, if I choose to share information about my past with X, and I say to X that I don’t want anyone else to know about this information, then I have established a boundary for that information, making X a co-owner of the information. These rules are understood, and if the person receiving the information breaks the rules by sharing the information with someone else, then trust is broken. Of course, the rules fluctuate depending upon circumstances. 

Another aspect of CPM is the concept of rewards and costs: As the information owner, I control who has access to the information; by sharing this information, I could be rewarded by the freeing aspect of self-expression. On the other hand, sharing this information runs the risk of loss of control over the information or possible embarrassment. Therefore, the information owner sets boundaries to control disclosure of the information. 

I will admit that I have reduced CPM to the barest lay terms and by doing so have left out a great deal, but I thought that it was an interesting concept and a more scientific way of looking at the issue of secrecy versus privacy. 

“Lying is done with words and also with silence.” ~ Adrienne Rich

I saw an interesting clip on Today online about this very issue. Essentially, the premise was that the Internet and e-mail have made it possible for more and more people to be unfaithful digitally. That’s right: digital infidelity. A British study revealed that 20 percent of individuals had checked their spouse’s browser history on the computer. I confess. I have done this, but I’m not proud of that fact. My reasons for doing so—insecurity about where I stood—made sense to me, but I still regret the invasion of privacy. 

While technology has made it easier to be duplicitous, it has also made it easier to find out the truth—a matter of be careful what you wish for because that e-mail you are opening may contain more than you ever wanted to know. As Regina Lynn said in an article on Wired.com, “The internet reveals a glimpse of polyamory to everyone who has ever flirted over IM, entered a chat room or joined a role-playing game. Regardless of whether you have sex online, every coquettish remark gives you a taste of what it means to share attention, time and intimacy with other people.” 

Apparently, more and more relationships are suffering as a result of one partner’s online activity because of the opportunities for secrecy that cyberspace offers. And this harmful activity is not limited to connecting to other people. Other significant issues that can come between two people include online gambling addictions, pornography addictions, even shopping addictions.  The question that the secret-keeper should ask is whether or not he or she would want the spouse/partner to engage in the pattern of behavior that is being kept secret? If the answer is no, then there is something wrong with the behavior. 

One aspect of the Today story that I found particularly interesting was the idea that although digital infidelity is not a physical connection, it is usually an emotional connection or a time connection, which keeps one partner from the other. Then there is the added risk that an online connection may lead to a physical connection. One of the experts commenting on the story remarked that more people are leaving their families behind to be with someone they have never met in real life. Am I the only one who finds this weird, abandoning reality for a perceived connection? 

A true cautionary tale: 48 Hours Mystery episode “Love and Lies” tells the story of Jennifer Corbin, who was murdered by her dentist husband. Jennifer was having an online affair with an individual named Christopher. Turns out, Christopher was a woman. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by Regina Spektor, “Man of a Thousand Faces” 

“Everything stated or expressed by man is a note in the margin of a completely erased text.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Blooming Sour Cherry Tree, Switzerland

“The various thoughts which arise in our minds are nothing but the scenery of the Life of the Self.” ~ Uchiyama Kosho

Spring in Vorarlberg, Austria

Very little sleep again last night . . . I got up early this morning to take my other mother-in-law to DMV to get a replacement license. I suppose this is my first time alone in trying to do something with her since her condition has worsened, and I must say that it was an awakening.  When I got to her house, she did not know why I was there, and then we had to spend time looking for her social security card, which she was certain she had lost. As it turns out, it was in her wallet. 

I really wasn’t sure if they would replace her license as I put Parkinson’s on the form under medical conditions, but I don’t think that the woman at the counter even glanced at that particular box. In a way I am very dismayed by the outcome. Her license was replaced, which means that she is legal to drive. She assured me that she won’t drive unless she feels up to it and that she will not drive at night, but after spending the morning with her, I am worried that she might get in the car and forget where she is going, only to get lost. 

To say that I am saddened by the helplessness of a once-vital woman who has been such a big part of my life for so many years is a huge understatement. Like so many others of us in the sandwich generation, watching my children grow and come into their own while simultaneously my elders decline and lose so much of themselves has become the sad reality of life. 

“How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you—you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences . . . little rags and shreds of your very life . . . ” ~ Katherine Mansfield

Claife Station, Western Shore of Windermere, NW England

The weather here is beautiful, a bit chilly, but sunny and clear. For some reason, when the weather starts to become warmer, Shakes takes to hiding in my closet, nested within the shoe boxes and clothes that have fallen in the back. It’s very unnerving to go to the closet door and hear rustling. Maybe he likes the cool, dark of the closet. Who knows. When I was a child, I remember going into my closet during thunder storms. I wasn’t really scared, everything  just sounded better from within the depths of the closet. 

A few nights ago I dreamed about my cousin from Great Bridge again. We were very close when we were growing up, but other than the funerals, I haven’t seen very much of him lately, which is why it’s disturbing that I seem to be dreaming about him about once a month now, and he is always in some kind of dilemma, not danger, but facing some kind of problem. Another who knows . . . 

Some good news with a caveat: Corey spoke to someone at the port security firm today, and she told him that she had a list of names to call of individuals in whom the company is not interested, and his name is not on the list. The head guy comes back next Monday, so perhaps Corey will get some good news next week. Here’s hoping. 

“There is no refuge from memory and remorse in this world. The spirits of our foolish deeds haunt us, with or without repentance.” ~ Gilbert Parker

Bois de la Cambre, Brussels

Tomorrow is Alexis’s EEG, which is supposed to take eight hours (blimey), and then she has her MRI on Friday. It will be good to get the tests out of the way, but then more waiting for results. Overall, she is handling everything really well, or maybe she’s hiding it from me. There is no way to be certain. I just know that I’m on perpetual worry mode until we find out something concrete, which may or may not happen. 

I think that Alexis realizes what a worrier I am, so she probably does not let on if she is fretting herself. But she seems to be fairly calm, which is a good thing. I can worry enough for everyone. 

I didn’t tell my other m-i-l about Alexis’s seizure as I didn’t see any need to worry her. I was thinking about it, especially when she asked how Alexis is doing, but I decided that in this particular situation, discretion is most definitely the better part of valor. The last thing she needs on her mind is whether or not something is wrong with one of her grandchildren. 

“There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.” ~ Josephine Hart

Spring in Vonêche, Belgium

Since it’s getting close to spring, I wanted to feature some spring images from other parts of the world (found on Wikimedia Commons). I have images in my mind of Europe in the spring, the hills in Scotland, vast expanses of green in the English countryside. I know that I saw them as a child, and even then they imprinted themselves on my memory.  

Personally, part of me longs to live in a small European village dotted with houses with steep roofs. I hate the suburbs. I hate ranch houses. I hate driving down a road that is one long line of unending convenience store chains, grocery stores, and car repair shops. I wonder if the place actually exists that I have created in my mind’s eye, the small place, with local shopkeepers, a small flower store, and in the background, fields of wildflowers, a creek. 

But more, I wonder if I would really love it in reality as much as I think I love it in my mind. 

More later. Peace. 

“Be Here Now,” by Ray LaMontagne