Secrets make you sick.
In therapy, we know that holding secrets can cause profound distress, emotionally and physically. Repressed memories, suppressed shame, and ignored guilt can all weigh on us until the stress comes out sideways. Irritability, cognitive malfunction, somatic complaints and other side effects can erupt from keeping secrets.
We all benefit when we can get these secrets off our chest.
Presently, there is a trend in our culture to “share your story,” and “speak your truth,” resulting in public articles, blogs, and social media posts exposing previously-held secrets with abandon. People unveil deep trauma and personal insecurities in public forums as a way to liberate themselves from the shackles of secrecy. We cheer them on. We encourage them. We call them brave and inspiring.
This does not mean that broadcasting your experiences publicly is a wise alternative to keeping secrets.
When we share these things publicly, we are not necessarily doing a righteous thing. It is important to move past shame and to take ownership of your own life. But to do so without discernment can put you at risk of further trauma. When we are vulnerable- when we share parts of ourselves that have been held back- we become raw. We “put it all out there” to unburden ourselves and feel lighter, and consequently we are exposed. The “light” feeling doesn’t last long when we now feel unsafe and vulnerable to others’ input and influence. This is a huge risk. This is a risk that in my opinion often yields more harm than good.
So, do I want you to keep secrets perpetually? Absolutely not.
Do I want you to hide and repress your feelings? No.
I want you to choose- with the utmost care and discernment- those who are deserving of your story and safe to hold your secrets. I want you to expose the raw parts with people who won’t rub salt in the wounds or use it against you. I want you to honor yourself by holding a private space for your painful truths. These truths are precious and don’t need to be shared with the world to be valid.
You do not have to “share your story” or “speak your truth” publicly to release secrets and free yourself from past pains. You can release that burden and maintain your precious privacy. A trusted confidante or a competent therapist are a good place to start. Not everything I meant for public consumption. Maintaining your privacy in a time of public everything is a brave and sometimes difficult choice. Privacy is a human right, and one you should not be pressured to sacrifice.
Next time you read a “brave” tell-all on a mom blog or on LinkedIn or any other public forum, please remember that while that choice to share is always yours, the choice to maintain privacy is also yours.