“A wise man once said that every time you point a finger to accuse someone else, your other four fingers are pointing right back at you…”
A friend of mine called me one day out of the blues that she had just lost her pregnancy and I experienced a rainbow mix of unexpected emotions. I was shocked and confused because I had seen her almost every day prior to that and had no clue that she was preggers. I felt sad and heartbroken because she had lost something she had wanted for so long. I felt hurt and betrayed because she hadn’t trusted me enough to confide in me till she needed a shoulder to cry on. For the time being I put my feelings aside and was there for her. I was everything she needed me to be.
It didn’t take too long however, to realise she wasn’t the only one that needed comforting. I called my mom to unburden my chest and she told me it was usual for some friends not to tell each other sensitive stuff like this because of our culture and the ‘you don’t know who is really happy for you’ mentality and that maybe the couple had reasons for keeping it in and I shouldn’t let it affect me. But it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. All my other friends had told me the news as soon as they peed on the stick and this friend had shed tears more than once that some other friend of hers had excluded her from the baby announcement and since some of her inner circle knew about it, I felt I had been deliberately excluded.
So I called up one of my oldest friends to whine about it and as I was going on and on about the seeming betrayal, I let it slip that all that time I had confided in this friend about the procedure I had done, and she had never once felt the need to trade her own secret and voila, the next instance something unexpected happened. My dear friend cut me short and asked when I had the procedure done. I told her and as it dawned on me that I had goofed, I felt the embarrasment creep up my neck. I had kept the details from my friend even though she had initially suggested it and asked me about it once or twice. I hastily replied that I wanted to be sure the procedure had worked and was waiting for the right time to break the ‘good’ news which unfortunately never came. I tried to convince her that I hadn’t excluded her for any negative reason and that it was just more convenient to tell my other friend because she was going through the same issues that I was. Right then it occured to me that I had been feeling hurt and betrayed when I had done exactly the same thing to my other friend!
So many friendships have had bad blood mar them because one friend hid a new man, new job, a pregnancy, an engagement, a wedding announcement, a party, a promotion, a hangout or some other opportunity or good news from the other friend. We have done this to protect their feelings, prevent jealousy or bad blood, protect our good news from frenemies (and village people) or just to keep our matters private but most times we inadvertently hurt someone who has only good intentions towards us. The worst part is that the friend doesn’t know which of the above reasons you had for excluding her and many times emotions make people assume the worst.
So how do you control the dissemination of your private affairs without sacrificing a good friend on the altar of secrecy? Here are 3 points to note. This points don’t apply if you deliberately excluded the person for any reason.
1. Be consistent. Let your friend know exactly what place she occupies in your life. Every person has different circles of friends. If you have 2 best friends, don’t tell one and leave the other out unless it is a known fact that you are closer to one of them. If you tell only your inner circle a secret, a friend in the outer circle won’t feel excluded unless you have given her reason to believe that she was part of your inner circle.
2. Be sensitive. Don’t assume that your friend understands why she wasn’t included. Take out time to explain to her and to gently tackle how she may be feeling. Invest more time, attention and love into the relationship so that you restore the balance that was there before the big reveal and so that she is assured that she wasn’t excluded for a negative reason. This may take time, don’t be in a hurry to move on unless you are sure she has.
3. Be fair. The world is so intertwined that many times we get as good as we give. If you are a private person then don’t get mad if someone else keeps their information private. If you planned to keep the information private but a couple of people already know about it, tell the people who are important to you rather than someone in your inner circle hearing it from a random friend outside or finding out she was one of the few people who didn’t know. Remember gist gets around pretty fast.
Life isn’t static. We will always have our own secrets and not be privy to someone else’s. Even though we may be inadvertently or intentionally excluded from certain circles of trust, we must be careful not to point fingers for with someone else we may have unwittingly crossed the same line. People have different characters and if you choose to be friends with a secretive person, you must own this and not get upset when the person is just being herself. You must also understand that some secrets are kept out of fear of past personal failures (they don’t want to jinx it) and not fear of what you can or can’t do to ruin it.
Finally, if you choose to keep a secret, do it for your own reasons and not because of advice from some random third party who doesn’t understand the depth of your friendship and has made you suspicious of the very people you trust. Your friend knows you and as a result can anticipate your reactions and odd behaviour hurts even more.
Nobody is perfect, may the force of friendship be strong within us and may forgiveness, love and understanding guide the ones we love and the ones who love us!
Have a lovely day Chutzpah fam,