Week Fourteen: Kathy Benson

 When do you think that it is OK to keep a secret and why? 

Though I try to live my life openly and honestly, especially when it comes to sharing about my experience with parenting, secondary infertility, pregnancy loss and neonatal death, there are circumstances when I think it is okay to keep secrets. Some of these situations include when I have tried to surprise a loved one, such as the recent surprise party my family threw for my mom’s 70th birthday or last Christmas when I found a way to surprise my husband Bob with a flat screen TV that he had wanted for so long, but always found reasons that we couldn’t afford it and directed our financial resources to more immediate needs. Both of these examples were extremely difficult secrets for me to keep, however they were more than worth it seeing the joy in my mother and husband’s faces as they got to experience the surprises arranged for them.

Other kinds of secrets that I think are okay to keep are when I believe that the person or people that I am choosing not to share information with could be harmed, primarily emotionally, by finding out. This is a harder one to give an example for, but I liken it to the oath that many medical professionals take to, “do no harm” and the ninth step of Alcoholics Anonymous which talks about making direct amends with people, “except when to do so would injure them or others.” In the same way there are instances when it doesn’t make sense to try to make amends with some people in our lives, as it seems doing so could hurt things more than they would help, I find there are times when the same can be said of sharing some “secret” information that we might be privy to.

Finally if a friend, family member or another person in my life chooses to confide in me about something that they wish to remain secret, I do my best to respect their privacy and not share what they have told me with others, unless I fear that their well being and/or life (or the well being and lives of their loved ones) might be in danger.

That said, I admit and take responsibility for having made questionable judgments in the past when it came to keeping secrets, both sharing news with others that wasn’t mine to convey and realizing that it probably would have been okay in certain circumstances to let others know something that I initially believed should be kept to myself.

As with so much in life, I think there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to keeping secrets. I believe that if we have good intentions and our actions do not hurt others that on a case-by-case basis it is okay to keep secrets.

When do you think that it is OK to keep a secret and why?


Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.

Kathy blogs at Bereaved and Blessed. You can also follow Kathy on Twitter @BereavedBlessed and her Facebook page.


2 thoughts on “Week Fourteen: Kathy Benson

  1. Objectively, I can agree with you, Kathy, but because of what I have been through, at this point in my life I cannot abide secrets. Thinking about it now, that’s probably one of the main reasons I’ve isolated myself from any new relationships, and many old ones. My husband understands, and knows not to even try to surprise me without an explanation. If it’s a gift, he tells me not to check the mail or look in a hiding place. If he’s planning an outing, he tells me that, only leaving the destination a surprise. It isn’t an issue of trust, but an issue of anxiety/flashback prevention.

    I think this comment is turning into a post of my own on the topic. 🙂

  2. I think sometimes I’m too honest … sometimes it might be useful to keep a little bit more of what I think under wraps. Like you, I think it’s OK to keep secrets when it’s for the good of someone else … both in situations like a gift/party, and in situations when information might hurt someone. You seem to be very sensitive to/attuned to other people’s feelings, so I suspect you are a good judge of this boundary.

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