Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

The Secret Keeper

Michal Eisikowitz

In our world, keeping things hush-hush is almost a way of life. But when does the practice get out of hand? Here, the folly and fallouts of keeping family matters strictly confidential.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It’s no secret: Every family’s got secrets.

Whether it’s something major like a medical condition, or a minor skeleton in the closet — like the fact that ten-year-old Chavi still sucks her thumb at night — we all have bits of information that we’d like to keep quiet. But for some, secret-keeping is more than a simple exercise in privacy; it’s a way of life.

Everything in my family was a secret,” attests Shimon K.,* who is now happily raising a family of his own. “Throughout my childhood, I found myself constantly lying and patching together stories to cover up for the million of things I was forbidden to disclose.”

The secret-keeping continued even after Shimon became an adult.

“When a sixty-seven-year-old man is diagnosed with a very treatable form of diabetes, there’s no reason to treat the development as classified information. But when this happened to my father, my parents prohibited us from letting it slip even to close relatives,” he says. “I felt inexpressibly frustrated; the endless concealing was so draining.”

In Shimon’s case, the family tendency toward confidentiality clearly bordered on the unhealthy. But what are the boundaries? At what point does keeping secrets become dysfunctional? How does the desire for discretion morph into a culture of caginess that spans generations?


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Drink to Eternity
Rabbi Moshe Grylak Redemption doesn’t simply mean being let out of jail
Klal Yisrael Is Always Free
Yonoson Rosenblum "In that merit will Klal Yisrael continue to exist”
Home Free
Eytan Kobre My baseline for comparison is admittedly weak
Believe in Your Own Seder
Rabbi Judah Mischel Hashem is satisfied when we do our best
Picture Perfect
Yisroel Besser Take a picture — and this time, send it to yourself
Flying Solo
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman As Pesach loomed closer, his resentment was growing
Hanging on by a Hair
Jacob L. Freedman MD “Do you still think that I’m not completely crazy?”
A Song for Every Season
Riki Goldstein Influencers map out their personal musical soundtracks
Subliminal Speech
Faigy Peritzman The deeper the recognition, the deeper the effect
The Big Change
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Spelling things out clears clouds of resentment
The Count-Up
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz Tap the middos of Sefirah to recreate yourself
The Baker: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP with Zivia Reischer "She can't get married if she can't build a relationship...
Know This: Infertility
As Told to Bracha Stein There was no place for me. I didn’t belong
Dear Shadchan
The Girl Here's the thing: I need time