Secrets. We all have them. They come in many forms.
Loving someone but never telling that person.
Children aborted in youth that remain unspoken about.
Sleeping with someone other than one’s romantic partner.
Adopted children who don’t know they are adopted.
Dropping out of school but not telling one’s parents.
These are just a few examples. There are many more. In fact, there are probably as many kinds of secrets as there are thoughts and actions. Secrets appear to be a part of the human condition, a frenzied detail written into the tapestry of the human experience. But why do we have secrets? Here’s my answer:
Secrets are born in that fragile part of the self that does not want to be judged, ridiculed, punished, rejected, or humiliated. All of these things have the potential to not only hurt, but to also carve deep wounds into the narrative of one’s life, resulting in physical and/or psychological pain. And as humans, we try our best to avoid pain. We try our best to prevent it, and if pain is present then we’re compelled to run from it. Pain sucks, therefore we try to avoid it. And it is this desire to avoid pain that causes fear. Secrets live in the space between Fear and Pain. So, why am I mentioning any of this? Why have I spent over 200 words thus far talking about secrets?
Because I have a secret, a BIG secret that I’ve kept from some of the people closest to me.
I’m not particularly proud of this. I don’t like secrets. I don’t like keeping them. I don’t like having them kept from me. That’s why keeping this secret has been so difficult. That’s why keeping this secret has been the source of so much shame. And it’s not the secret itself that has been a source of shame, but the keeping of it. It’s strange that sometimes we keep secrets because we’re afraid of feeling shame, yet the keeping of the secret eventually feels more shameful than the discovery of said secret would. That’s the position I find myself in, keeping a secret I wish I had never allowed to become a secret in the first place.
It becomes more and more difficult to disclose a secret the longer the secret has been kept, which just results in keeping the secret longer. Then a vicious cycle is created resulting in the secret becoming buried deeper and deeper between you and the person (or people) you’re keeping the secret from. So, now when you dig up the secret to reveal it, there is a larger chasm between you and the person (or people) you have finally told your secret to than there would have been had you just revealed the secret earlier on to begin with. And we know all of this, yet we still keep secrets. I know all of this, yet I still keep secrets. I guess that’s the power of fear. And do you want to know the truth?
I’m really scared.
With this secret that I have, I’m deathly afraid that revealing it will result in rejection. However, I know deep down that I won’t be rejected. But in the past, revealing this secret has led to negative judgment and rejection–a lot of it, from friends and family–and it has been profoundly painful. This is where the difficulty of disclosure arises. And I’m afraid of feeling that pain and rejection again.
Secrets live in the space between Fear and Pain. And then secrets become a prison.
I feel like I’m in the prison of my secret. And that feeling sucks. So everyday I think about how I will reveal my secret to those who deserve to know–those who I want to know–while minimizing the possibility of rejection. But I still haven’t found the perfect strategy yet and I probably never will. So, the secret becomes buried deeper and deeper, and the bars of my prison become thicker and harder. And so the secret just becomes more difficult to reveal, more difficult to escape from. However, I am very determined to escape, to let go of my fear of rejection, to reveal my secret–and I will, very soon. I’m tired of living in the space between fear and pain, tired of being shamed, tired of living in the prison of my secrets.
I want to be free.