Underneath my yellow skin

In sickness and in health…but no secrets?

Last night was an adventure, but not of the enjoyable kind. I was exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later, my stomach cramping like crazy. I ran to the bathroom, did my business, then returned to the couch. Stomach cramped up again, so back to the bathroom with me. I felt hot and feverish, but finally fell asleep again. Only to be woken up an hour later with more agonizing cramps. Another sprint to the bathroom, twice, then more feverish huddling under my blanket. A few more hours of sleep before being awaken in the same way again. I ate some plain rice to sooth my stomach, stayed up for a bit, more sleep, more bathroom adventures, and my stomach is still queasy now.

I thought maybe I had grabbed the Amy’s gluten-free mac-n-cheese instead of the gluten-free/dairy-free mac-n-cheeze, but, no. I had grabbed (and eaten) the correct one. I’m not sure what the hell is wrong with my system, but it’s bad enough, I might actually go to the doctor to have it checked out. For today, however, I’ll stick to eating bland foods and hoping that my stomach settles down.

I’ve been on an Indigo Girls kick lately. Why? Because they fucking rule, for one, but because they were also very important to me back when I was a confused closeted bi woman. This was before the turn of the millennium, and there weren’t that many example of out and proud queer women, especially not in the world of music, so they were a revelation to me. This was well after they started their careers, back in 1995 or so. When I first discovered them, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Not only were they very comfortable with being out, they played great music. They actually played their instruments! And, Amy Ray was (and still is) smoking hot. I know it’s hard to fathom now, but it meant the world to me to have them as role models back in the day.

I got to see them close out Lilith Fair, probably in 1997, and they fucking blew my mind. I am not a fair-going type of person (I hate noise, crowd, the heat, and the outdoors), but I was willing to sacrifice it for them and Sarah McLachlan. Sarah was on fairly early if I remember well, then a bunch of women I don’t remember. I’m sure they were great, but I was there for the Indigo Girls. They took the stage around ten that night, a good ten hours or more after the whole event started, and it was fucking electric.

Again, I know they might seem quaint or outdated to young queer women who have a plethora of queer women to look up to, but back then, it was them, Melissa Etheridge, and k.d. lang. All of whom I love, but there’s something about the Indigo Girls that really spoke to me. They’re going to be here in February, playing with the Minnesota Orchestra. If I can’t find someone to go with, I’m going to summon every ounce of nerve I have and go alone because it’s going to be fucking fantastic.

Now, secrets. As some of you may know, I read a few advice websites and think of them as my stories. One of them is Ask A Manager, which may seem strange because I don’t work in an office. Today, there’s a letter about infidelity in the workplace, and, well, read it for yourself. In a nutshell, the Letter Writer (LW) has a friend who is the manager of her husband on a project at his work. The friend began sleeping with her boss (also the LW’s husband’s boss), who’s married. ‘Jane’ (the friend) broke up with her boyfriend and is looking for a new job because she’s miserable. ‘Bob’ (LW’s husband) is convinced she’s leaving because she’s overburdened at work, and he’s afraid the same thing will happen to him. The LW wants to know what she can say to whom about the whole sorry situation.

The part that interests me is the discussion in the comments about whether or not spouses should tell each other everything. In this case, obviously, the LW should tell her husband because the secret is directly affecting him. But, in general, I was surprised by how many people said they automatically told their significant others everything. I started wondering if this was the norm because personally, I tend to be a nondisclosure type unless it’s something that’s bothering me and I need to talk it out. However, if it’s something sensitive in nature or even if it’s something about someone my SO doesn’t know, I don’t share it.

I don’t know if it’s the psychology major in me (probably not because my mother has terrible boundaries when it comes to secrets. Well, when it comes to a lot of things, come to think of it. In fact, my intense secretive nature is probably in reaction to that more than anything else), but I tend to keep things to myself unless there’s a reason to share rather than the other way around. Weirdly enough, I tell my BFF more than I’ve ever told a partner, and K have no qualms in talking about sensitive issues with her. I think it’s because she’s NOT my partner and too emotionally-involved with me, if that makes any sense. She loves me and would fly out to be with me in a heartbeat if I need her, but at the end of the day, we’re not a dyad in the way I would be with a partner.

I’m sure that sounds backwards to many people, but I feel that with a romantic/sexual partner, there’s too much muddiness for them to really detach from whatever the issue is. What I mean is, when a partner of mine is in anguish, I feel it directly as if it’s happening to me. With a friend, I feel similarly, but to a lesser degree. It’s part of my codependency issues, but I think most people would say the same. Especially in this society which demands that you put your spouse ahead of all other relationships.

Side note: I realized a while ago that I have BPD traits. I’m not saying I have BPD, but I have tendencies. Strong tendencies. Intense mood swings, fear of abandonment, reckless behavior, self-harming behavior, and feelings of emptiness. So, yes, I exhibit many of the symptoms, but it’s a question of degree. Since I’m aware of my issues, I’m able to keep most of them muted because I am on it, but I do slip from time to time when I’m exceedingly tired. I know I should go back to therapy to tackle it properly, but I don’t want to right now. I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was fifteen, and I’m tired of it.

Anyway, I mention it because maybe it’s the reason I’m more of a secret-keeper. It’s also because my father had a mania for keeping secrets when I was a kid, and he made it highly unpleasant when you broke his (unspoken) rules. In the end, it was easier just to keep everything a secret. There were several people who thought it ridiculous to share everything with a spouse, but it seemed that there were more who considered it the default.

Look. I know I’m weird. I have plenty of evidence of that. But it’s hard for me to believe that it’s ‘unhealthy’ as someone in the comments stated to keep secrets in relationships. To be clear, the person said it wasn’t healthy to keep these kinds of secrets (re: LW’s dilemma), but there were plenty of people extrapolating from it. I’m fully willing to admit that I might fall too far on the secretive side of the equation, but I think people saying they always tell their spouses everything are outliers, too. You’re not two halves of a whole, people. You’re allowed to have your own identities.

I’m also the person who wouldn’t blend banking accounts, either. I’d have ‘mine’ ‘theirs’ and ‘ours’ but no way in hell would I put it all into one pool. Maybe I’m too cynical, but love isn’t always forever, and restraining orders are a real thing. No one goes into a relationship thinking, “I’m gonna run like hell from this asshole in a year or two”, but it happens as often as not, if not more.

This might be one of the reasons I don’t want to be in a romantic long-term monogamous relationship; I am afraid of losing myself in another person, and our society encourages this mentality–especially from women. I also don’t like the implication that once you’re in a long-term monogamous romantic relationship, that relationship is more important than you are. I have enough issues with self-esteem, I don’t need that in addition to the browbeating I’m constantly giving myself.

Again, to make it clear, in the letter above, I think the LW should tell her husband. I also don’t see anywhere in the letter that Jane asked her not to tell her husband. Furthermore, the LW is way too involved in Jane’s ill-fated affair and should step waaaaay back. But the question of secrets and how the commentariat feels about them has been illuminating. Just more data that I’m a weirdo and will not find ‘true love’ (in which I don’t believe, anyway).


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