I am stuck. I want to write things, but I'm not sure I can. The stuff that goes into this blog goes around and around the inside of my head in a sort of a queue; the monologues have a priority, and right now there's a bunch of harmless fluff all jammed up behind some important things. The important things have to come out first, before the harmless fluff can run free, but I'm not sure I can get the important things out, because a large proportion of the ones currently standing at the front of the line are technically not mine.

People tell me things. A lot. They pretty much never remember to explain why they decide to tell me things, but I have the nagging feeling that one of the reasons is because things that are told to me in private conversations also stop with me. There are a few mandated-reporter-type things that I'll pass on to your loved ones and/or the authorities no matter what I've promised you -- I am totally okay with you being pissed at me for thwarting your suicide attempt or dragging you to the ER when you're passing out and seizing, thanks. But beyond that, I try not to tell tales, on the grounds that I feel they are not mine to tell. I'm okay painting pictures of people based on a generalization of my interactions with them -- sort of, sometimes -- but getting any more specific than that takes me into uncomfortable territory.

It's a policy that has generally served me well, although I can no longer say my track record is 100% positive. Someone once asked me both to keep a secret, and to help him take care of something if it ever came up; neither thing on its own would have been harmful, but the combination ended up getting me stuck in a corner, with no way out that didn't involve betraying someone who needed very badly to not feel like he was having the rug yanked out from under him. The debacle ended with me moving to Boston, so overall it probably worked out for the best, but it was one of the worst periods of my life while I was in it, and if I had it to do over again I'd probably opt to tell him point-blank that I couldn't do both things and he was going to have to pick just one.

The interesting thing is that this time the person I'm tempted to tell tales about has told me to do it. He's a journo, or was; I don't think he's active anymore, but it's how he sees himself, and he still has enough of the mindset that I'm not going to argue. He says that if I still feel terrible about it, I should do it anonymously. Although, frankly, I'd have to use enough detail that anyone who knew him IRL would know exactly who I was talking about anyway.

I don't know if I can. I end up knowing a lot about people. I understand that this gives me a kind of power: The power to expose, to peel back someone's skin, to take away their public façade, whether they consent or not. That's not why I want to know, but I can't have one without the other -- knowing what's hurt people in the past also means knowing what can hurt them very badly, right now. I know enough to know that I can do it inadvertently if I don't watch my mouth, and that scares me. Even if someone says 'go ahead, tell my story', I have no idea if they realize what story I'm going to tell, and with a lot of them I'm not sure they'd feel able to tell me not to publish it even if I let them read it first and lodge their objections.

I told him I'd think about it -- and I am -- but that this is the kind of thing that may be impervious to logic. I don't know if I'm that brave.