Have you ever told a secret to a friend, only to find out that she told someone else?
Yeah, me too. It really hurts.
I'm thinking of one instance in particular that happened in the middle of sixth grade. I was friends with Caroline* who lived up the street. This was the first time I'd had a friend who lived so close to me, that my mom or dad didn't have to drive me to her house. All I had to do was walk up the street and around the corner. Caroline had a real record player, not a kiddie one like mine, and she had the record to the great Charlie Daniels Band hit, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (I still know most of it by heart, actually).
Caroline and I met in fifth grade after I moved to the neighborhood, but then we ended up in the same class in sixth grade. What fun we had! We weren't exactly part of the "in" clique, but I knew Caroline wanted to be. I don't really remember caring all that much as long as Caroline was my friend. She was taller than me, and had long blonde hair that I envied (my mom wouldn't let me grow mine that long). She was a fun friend and I was grateful.
I entrusted Caroline with my deepest secret at the time, and that was when I told her that I had begun menstruating. This was a very big deal, as we'd all read Judy Blume's books and had watched "The Video" for health ed. She promised to keep it a secret.
I don't remember all the details of the unveiling of my secret, but I do remember feeling a sharp pain in my heart (not even kidding, it hurt right where my heart beat in my chest) and it happened at a slumber party in hushed whispers and giggles at my expense. Word spread at school and everyone looked at me as if in disbelief. I was basically shunned by the popular girls, Caroline now firmly ensconced among them,
She was in, I was out.
I remember talking to my mom about it, and she reminded me of Luke 6:31, also known as the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you.
My eleven-year-old self never forgot how it felt to have a secret betrayed. I can't say I've always kept everyone's secrets they have ever told me over the past thirty-five years--and I'm one of those people to whom many people confess secrets--but for the most part, I have. Occasionally there have been accidental slip-ups, but never an out-and-out tattling of secrets. Because I remember the pain of betrayal, and it was awful.
I remember telling this story to my own daughters after each of them had had a similar incident (must be a rite of passage, I suppose), and my husband reminded me of this quote from Poor Richard's Almanack, written by the incomparable Benjamin Franklin:
Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
There's much truth in that.
* Name has been changed. I'm using Austenian pseudonyms, because I want to. My friend Caroline is named after Caroline Bingley, another "mean girl."
To read the introductory post for this #write31days series with all the links for the rest of the series, click here.