Forward Living: Got a secret? Share it at your own risk

“I’ve Got a Secret” was a panel game show that was popular when I was a kid. I watched it with my grandparents, who hailed from Italy but yearned to be “Americana.” For them it was a must-see; for me it was Grandma’s homemade pizza that I was after.

The show was a guessing game in which a panel tried to determine a contestant’s “secret.” The secrets were intended to be unusual, amazing, embarrassing or humorous. In retrospect, I understand why Grandma and Grandpa loved the show: Having and keeping secrets is truly “Americana.”

Most of us have been entrusted with a secret, have our own secrets, revealed another’s secret or have had our secret betrayed by a trusted confidant. As on the game show, secrets range from some deep, dark thing to something pleasant and everything in-between.

For some of us, secrets are woven into the early fabric of our lives. Many things are kept secret ostensibly to protect us from knowing the truth about a hush-hush situation. Tragically, some kids are pressed into carrying the burden of family secrets.

When Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, my uncle and mom would lock themselves in the bathroom and whisper. I didn’t know why they were in closed quarters, but I instinctively knew that something was amiss. When Grandpa died, I was stunned.

A secret kept about a family member’s drinking or inappropriate behavior is what psychiatrist’s couches are made for. Many children are molested by a trusted family member or friend. Then, to add more horror to this travesty, when a child “tells,” the child is further confused because the adult response is: “It didn’t happen” or “It wasn’t that bad.”

Many family members live under the fear of an abusive parent or spouse. It is almost unbearable for a young child to witness the emotional and physical violence of their parents; yet for many kids, it is the nightmare of their daily existence. Domestic abuse is out of the closet; however, some spouses are so traumatized that they become paralyzed and feel compelled to remain for the sake of … (fill in the blank).

Folks who grow up in secretive families may continue to perpetuate secretive behavior in their adult relationships. They may have trouble expressing their emotions — and dollars to donuts trust will be a big issue. Why would you confide in someone and share your vulnerability when you may not be believed? Or worse still, you may feel you don’t deserve love.

There are the “what goes on between friends stays between friends” secrets. These secrets are shared and held because of the love and bond between good friends. A word of caution: Be careful to whom you bare your soul — look what happened to Monica Lewinsky!

Teenagers are famous for having crushes — and I had many. Some were reciprocated, some I held in my heart. Remember this routine?: Dial the number and as soon as your “crush” answers, hang up! Nowadays kids have it made with technology and social media. I suppose one could text a love interest with some inane question to get noticed or friend them on Facebook.

Adults have secret crushes, too — and that’s OK. But it has to stay right there if you are in a committed relationship. Facebook is notorious for sparking these little flirtations or diversions.

But when one buys a plane ticket or suggests a meeting, the crush is no longer a crush but an impossible infatuation that can lead to a major train wreck.

Then there is the secret that’s not a secret. The best-kept non-secret was Hillary’s announcement of her 2016 presidential bid. Who didn’t see this coming? “Talking in your Sleep” is an ’80s hit by The Romantics. The following lyrics make me think, “Yikes!” “I hear the secrets that you keep when you’re talking in your sleep.” Everyone has one secret that would break the heart — and some secrets are best kept secret, unless you talk in your sleep, that is. Then … ?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.