Not all secrets should be kept
My husband’s sister confessed to me a few years ago that she slept with her best friend’s husband. I met this friend, and we hit it off, but until about a month ago, our only contact was through my sister-in-law. We could be good friends, except this secret makes me feel like a back stabber. My sister-in-law has unprotected sex with the bummiest guys. Her current guy has hepatitis C and gave her a sexually transmitted disease (STD). She slept with her friend’s husband after she learned about the STD. Now this friend is trying to have another child. I feel she should know about the STD because her health is at risk. She confided that she freaked one day when my sister-in-law gave her baby daughter a sip of her drink, because she thought the baby might get hepatitis C. She has no idea there are more serious worries. Also, her husband frequently accuses her of whoring, and she doesn’t know it’s because he is guilty. Should I tell my sister-in-law that if she doesn’t confess to her friend, I will?
Yes, if you can say it with integrity. Your sister-in-law trusted you with a secret. If you promised to keep her secret safe, you must begin the conversation with her by admitting that you are choosing to betray her trust because this is a secret you can no longer keep. Explain that the health risk demands that her secret be revealed. Then, tell her that you will share the information with your mutual friend, unless she prefers to do so herself. You can also suggest that the two of you break the sad news to this woman together. Do you hear the difference between this process and your question? There is no threat, just a quiet desire to unburden oneself and to protect another.
Of course, both your sister-in-law and this mutual friend are likely to think that you have betrayed them. You will have exposed your sister-in-law, and you will have shattered her best friend’s illusions about a friendship and a marriage. Your ego must be mature enough to understand that your sister-in-law and mutual friend are likely to feel angry, hurt, fearful and sad. They may blame you for these feelings. Your job is to support them in transitioning through this difficult time. Do not expect them to appreciate you. If you have a savior complex, this is a great time to do the psychological work necessary to shed it.
I have a pretty tight circle of six friends from high school that I hang with. Our lives are pretty intertwined, and it’s great, except over the years, they all have become vegetarians. I eat meat, and I’m sick of their “If you love animals, why do you eat them?” crap and their holier-than-me attitude. I get so mad, but I don’t say anything because I’m afraid I’ll just explode. I don’t want to lose my friends. How do I get them to respect my choice?
Watch the documentary Peaceable Kingdom with your pals. A startling look at the mistreatment of farm animals in the United States, the film makes it clear that dairy cows are treated as badly, if not worse, than beef cows. So, vegetarians contribute to the illness of the planet and the abuse of farm animals in precisely the same ways as those who consume meat. Anyone with a conscience will at least reduce the amount of meat and dairy they consume. (Only vegans have the right to lord their superiority over the rest of us.) Local artist Gale Hart is bringing the film to the Crest Theatre in October. You can contact her at (916) 448-5090. It’s also available on DVD at www.tribeofheart.com.