Today I was talking to a client about secrets. Secrets are deadly. They destroy trust, intimacy, and love. They destroy authenticity and transparency. They destroy our self-esteem and self-respect. They can be the death of our dreams and success.
I’m not talking about the times you keep your latest art creation under wraps or don’t share your weight loss plan or hide your diary. Those aren’t the secrets I am talking about.
I’m talking about the secrets you keep that if anyone knew about this secret, you fear you would be rejected, ridiculed, destroyed.
I know the destruction of keeping a secret that is stopping you from being true to yourself. A secret that takes away your right to be you. A secret that you punish yourself with and blame yourself for.
See, when you keep that kind of secret it says there is a part of you that is unacceptable to yourself, or to anyone else. Let me tell you right now: That is a lie.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s super scary to share your deepest secrets. It took me almost twenty years to come clean about my parents. I would only tell my closest friends and that was always in a hushed tone with a lot of hemming and hawing. Yet, telling that secret lifted me out of the burden of shame. It was liberating.
But I still had other secrets. Secrets about things I had done when I was driven by fear and using alcohol to numb myself. Secrets so horrific to me, that I was convinced if you knew what they were, you would turn away in disgust.
When I started feeling free after revealing my parent’s murder-suicide, I realized those, too, had to go. I had to tell every secret.
Now, I am also a realist and understand the need for emotional safety. So what I did was I told one secret to one person, another to someone else. I spread my secrets so no one person had them all. Now, many years later, I have friends that know ALL my secrets. Gulp!
The time I got so drunk I rolled down a hill while trying to saunter into a garden party while wearing white pants. All night people kept asking me if I was okay and I thought they were crazy. What’s the big deal? Until I woke up the next morning and discovered my clothes were covered in mud and so was I.
Or the nights I alleviated my loneliness in ways I’m not proud of.
Or the time I accused someone of something they never did and I knew I was lying but felt so bad about myself, I couldn’t admit it.
Or the time I totaled my sister’s car in the middle of the night on a drunk drive that I didn’t remember. When she asked me about her smashed up car the next day, I denied driving it. It wasn’t until I started to put the pieces of my night together that I figured out it was me.
Yes, that’s right. I just drove my sister’s car right back into her garage after taking it out on a midnight run closing the garage door as if nothing was wrong. (Can you imagine my sisters face walking into the garage and seeing her car totaled? Oh God!)
Or the time I drank myself so drunk that I had to sleep in the office of a local bar because they couldn’t get me out. They literally locked me in the bar. You get the picture. (And yes, there’s more).
I’ve done things for all the wrong reasons all the while justifying them in my head that I HAD to do it. I had no choice. I was too broke. Too sad. Too lonely. Too something.
Now I know I was just afraid. But I didn’t know it then. I do now.
Sure, when I decided to tell the whole truth I made a decision who to tell what to. I mean, you do have to be conscious of the other person’s beliefs and boundaries. I am not going to tell my aunt who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage about the time I slept with someone because I was lonely (that’s the nice version).
Coming clean with my secrets allowed me to accept myself in a deeper, more fearless way. It unburdened me from the fear of being ‘caught’ for being less than perfect.
Do you have secrets? You are not alone. We all have secrets. I have just learned the freeing feeling of telling mine to someone I totally trust (like a therapist or coach or friend) or someone I never have to see again (the poor guy sitting next to me on the plane. Sorry guy 🙂 ).
I’ve learned that when I refuse to shame myself by keeping a secret that makes me feel less than enough, I am free to see my innocence and love myself despite my less than perfect choices. When I see my secrets for what they are – mistakes made in an attempt to feel okay in a less than okay situation – I give myself space to let the past go, forgive myself and move on.
Each time I shared a secret, I got wiser and my choices got better. (It’s amazing the freedom you feel when you quit shaming yourself.)
What are your hidden secrets that are stopping you from moving forward? You know the ones that you are afraid if you get too successful or too happy people will find out and you will be ruined.
Do you keep secrets? How has keeping that secret affected your life? Share in the comments below.