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You're told to be vulnerable--to disclose yourself honestly to those around you. But like most of us you're painfully aware that honest self-disclosure can blow up in your face.

In my first year of high school I double-dated with my older sister and her boyfriend. We were at a coffee shop when Ralph commented that I looked flushed. As a matter of fact I did feel hot, and headachy as well. Ralph pointed out that during the night my face had broken out even more than my teenage acne warranted. When I admitted that the lights in the restaurant seemed a bit bright, he announced the obvious. I had measles.

This was a blow. Our family was scheduled to leave on a Florida vacation the next morning. My sister and I knew that as soon as our parents discovered my illness they would cancel the trip. So we conspired not to let them know. I took aspirin for the headache, covered my arms with long-sleeved shirts, and wore dark glasses outside. I stayed out of the sun and used generous quantities of talcum powder and Clearasil to mask the worst blemishes on my face. My folks never found out.

Although this is an extreme example, it represents my basic philosophy toward self-disclosure ...

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