Is having a secret good or bad?
Many of us are taught, either literally or by example, that we should keep secret those things that are really important. We “don’t talk to strangers”, and so the truths about what is happening never get spoken. Keeping something secret can be a self-defense mechanism; it stops us from getting hurt more, or from admitting that an action of ours was wrong. By keeping something shameful a secret, we think we can reduce the harm done, and maybe forget about it completely, and just get on with our lives.
But sometimes we hold secret inside us about things that have happened, or that we have done, and these things eat away at our soul. We may have been hurt as a child, or our natural talents have been stomped on, or a person close to us may be stifling us. Or we may have lied or cheated, or hurt someone either accidentally or on purpose. But we are complex beings, and mostly we will have been both the victim of others, and the perpetrator of hurt. And yet we “carry on”, holding that secret close to our hearts because of shame, or hurt, or not knowing what to do.
We can carry on for many years like that, but all the time we do so, that secret is there inside us, growing stronger in the darkness that it is kept.
And it is not as if these destructive secrets need all be “big ticket items”. More often than we might think, it is the accumulation of a small hurt here, a little cheating there, some small disappointment or a few words spoken in haste or not spoken at all; all these seemingly small things held inside us become really large and important in our imagining.
Sometimes, we feel it necessary to “take the edge off” and find something that makes us feel better for a while. But then that something turns into a crutch that we need every day, and need more and more of, and thus starts a journey into addiction.
And if not a physical addiction to a substance or an action, it can also lead to destructive behaviors and obsessive thinking – things that seem to have no connection to the secrets, but are necessary to maintain them in the dark.
I have found that it is only when those things are cleaned away, can real recovery begin. As painful as the self disclosure can be, the only way to develop as a whole person is to go through those growing pains. I have seen so many times – and have experienced it myself – that someone’s life has been turned around and put on a better path once all the wreckage of the past has been cleared away.
Someone once told me that we are only as sick as our secrets – I find this to be true, and that the way to freedom and a joyous life is to shine the light on all those dark places in our lives.