Secrets, of course, can be good. They can be fun! It's planning a surprise baby-shower for a friend; it's not telling the rest of the family about your plans to propose to your partner (so no one else will spoil it); it's making the effort to show up at a special event for your best friend after telling him you had to work; it's saving for months in your private account in order to pay for that special anniversary vacation or gift!
they manipulate others by controlling what is known and not known,
with either an intentional or unintentional consequence of harming others.
Also, I've provided a few writing prompts for your reflection. Responding to them will assist you in connecting to your experiences with secrets and how you may handle them differently in the future.
Unhealthy or bad secrets are conceived out of necessity - to cover up, manipulate, or withhold truth. In the moment, we are seduced by them because they serve a purpose or they fill a need. As secrets are born, there is an intoxicating measure of satisfaction as we experience their successful implementation and integration into our lives and into the lives of others. At times, there is an unusually heightened sense of relief, as if we have obtained a stay of execution from the truth of our reality. We are safe in our secret, at least for a while.
When I was in my early twenties, I was in a highly unhealthy relationship. The person was an alcoholic and abusive - emotionally, psychologically, and financially. Although I didn't know much about alcoholism and abuse at the time, I remember I was so ashamed of how I was living and with whom. Therefore, I kept the truth of my turmoil from my family and friends. However, the longer I pretended that everything was ok, the more I hurt myself in the process. When I finally had the courage to share my secret with family, they were supportive and assisted me when I left the relationship.
|Secrets hide shame.|
In 2010, quite by accident I stumbled across a deeply buried family secret - my parents had lied for 60 years about their wedding date. Although today it would not illicit the shame, scandal, and stigma of years ago, their lie was kept secret to cover up an unplanned pregnancy. Not wanting to dishonor my parents or hurt my sisters, for several years I kept my parents' secret as my secret. However, being a person who has worked hard to "live in truth", I felt the burden of faking and pretending. At times, I felt angry at the hypocrisy of my parents for fabricating lies for so many years to cover up their secret while being extremely judgmental and critical of their children's choices and how we led our lives.
Reflective prompt: As you repressed the truth and regulated your secret, how did you feel? What did you do which was out of character for you or which ran contrary to your healthy ways of being? What would you do differently next time?
It is my belief that as we continue to manage our secrets by spinning our lies and weaving them into our being, they will eventually suffocate our truths and strangle our spirits. Tremendous emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, and at times, financial resources and energy are needed to sustain their longevity. Tragically, because of the insidious nature of secrets, over time the secret itself evolves into the new altered truth. It is in this phase when we justify the secret and deny it's potentially destructive ramifications. Many individuals turn to or relapse into self-soothing or self-medicating behaviors to cope with the internal turmoil.
|Keeping a secret for a long time can feel like being imprisoned by it.|
A secret will continue to live on until it is exposed or revealed. The irony is that we believe keeping the secret is saving us from pain when in truth concealing it fuels and feeds our fear, anxiety, and turmoil. Our secrets actually hold us hostage and keep us bound in unhealthiness. Healing and restoration can begin only after its revelation.
When my daughter was a child, I wanted to share a few secrets from my past with her. However, I wanted to wait until she was age-appropriate. Although a few family members knew of some of the painful parts of my past, "I" wanted to be the one to talk with her about them. Unfortunately, an unhealthy angry family member shared one personal piece of information with my daughter in order to hurt me. Even though my daughter was confused by the information, I was able to talk to her honestly and answer her questions. Not only did the experience provide a strong bond and foundation from which to navigate future conversations,but I felt a tremendous level of release and renewal by freeing myself from their hold on me.
|Revealing secrets brings renewal|
I believe that someone might be reading this and thinking, "I have held onto my secret to protect my family." Or, "It is just too painful to talk about. I can't ever disclose my secret." Or, "What good what it do to tell others now? Too much time has passed And it would just bring unnecessary injury to others." I would say to you the following:
|Peace comes with living in truth.|
If you feel betrayed because of a "truth which became a lie" or a "belief which was shattered",