In my job I am told quite a bit off the record - In my volunteering clients will reveal things to me as we work through their needs. Often they open up and tell me things I never wanted to know, and not because I am disinterested but more because once you know, you can never erase that information.
It is a huge responsibility to keep that confidentiality - especially when the woman sitting across from me tells me about or shows me her bruises. Shares with me information that if rumored about would not only ruin her, but those who are close to her.
Over the years I have heard just about every confession you can imagine - those personal secrets that often are pushed into the deep dark depths of someone's closet in their mind where they hide it from all and live life guarding it.
I have heard stories such as getting a sexually transmitted disease from past experiences of prostitution, or from being raped by a family member. We're talking some heavy duty stuff - things that if ever made their way out into a small community where everyone THINKS they know all, would destroy an already fragile being.
What do I do with that information? Well, first I try to get them to understand that there are resources for them to help get past any demons in their life keeping them from having a firm footing and a stable environment...and then, I store that knowledge in my own closet in my mind, and guard it. Sometimes guarding it means to almost literally biting my tongue off when I hear others clacking about someone who had just told me their secret - It's hard not to scream out the real reason someone may be drinking excessively or living some other lifestyle where all their actions are about distraction and numbing their pain.
Having access to such information and guarding it is not for everyone. Perhaps I understand the power and impact it can have in the wrong hands because my children and I have been victims of similar rumor-mill of ignorance and the reason I started this blog....
When my life crumbled around my feet and my now ex-husband was arrested for sexually and physically abusing me in front of my children - the rumors flew. It didn't take long before kids at my son's private school were teasing him and saying things that never happened..these were small children who had heard bits and pieces from their parents' gossiping.
It didn't take long before I walked the hallways of that institution and literally passed by adults whispering as they pointed. I can even remember one time during such an incident that I looked at my children who were walking beside me and firmly stated "Ignore the cackling hens - walk tall and walk strong."
That is when I started writing about my life - at first it was on another site and then it was this blog to combat the BS and take back my story.
So I get it when someone looks at me and opens up to then plead with me not to tell anyone what they just told me. I know their fear, and I know why they needed to tell someone.
Yes, it's a huge responsibility and unless a person truly understands and can keep that big stuff to themselves and the confines of their responsibility within whatever position they are in, then they have no right to be hearing it.
It is not clatter for the coffee clutch at the local diner. It is not a tool to make oneself look "big" among those who have power they only wished they had. No, it is not for everyone.
It can and will destroy someone if it ever lands in the wrong ego driven hands.
I was reminded of that recently when I learned of a potential avenue of such information getting into the complete wrong hands. There is only so much I can say and do about the situation and can only hope that those who need to pay attention - are.
So please, remember that when you're listening to clatter in the rumor-mill - there's always more to the story and unless you're willing to guard and protect someone's nightmares - don't judge.