|Photo courtesy of Teen Vogue
I wasn’t awake long, staring at the ceiling, reminding myself what day it was, before I found myself crying. “You’re not defeated” I repeated to myself the same way my aunt whom I called the evening before when on the brink of tears had. But it felt that way. Just thinking of the day ahead I felt powerless and defeated. I felt tired and lost, confused, defensive. And maybe what as worse was that no one knew. Sure some people knew I was frustrated. Or overwhelmed. My aunt knew I felt defeated. But no one knew the past week I was lugging all of that around and putting on my brave happy face to make sure none of those emotions surfaced.
I picked up my phone and sent a text to a few close friends.A few hopefuls, supporters, trustworthy friends who I could trust not to share anything I knew wouldn’t be helpful (i.e . maybe it was a mistake, maybe you were just running from something, maybe God didn’t really call you to this, etc.) I told them I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I couldn’t keep hiding how miserable things were. That I’d already been crying for an hour prior to even texting them. That I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone do what needed to be done. That every time I catch myself being angry about all that transpired that was completely out of my control and those who had control to change the situation seemed perfectly fine not doing so, I choke it to death telling myself I have no right to feel that way and that it wasn’t intentional and that I don’t have all the information as to why things were the way they were so I shouldn’t judge. That for every thing that was negative I worked to pull out a positive. That I was anxious about talking to people because I didn’t want anyone to know things were not good or that I was incompetent or weak.
Photo courtesy of Michelangelo di Battista for Vogue Italia
It was probably one of the most depressing yet truthful messages I sent in a long time. Maybe even ever. And while those words didn’t actually change any of the circumstance, my heart felt lighter. My head felt lighter. My body felt less tense. My stomach wasn’t in knots. I told. I wasn’t keeping a secret anymore. I wasn’t hiding what was happening or my struggle to process it all and keep it moving. The truth, my truth, my experience, set me free.
I loathe keeping secrets. Mostly because I have been trusted with some pretty terrible ones. Like knowing before one parent that the other was actively moving to end the marriage. Or knowing about someone’s forced illegal abortion and the mental breakdown that ensued afterwards. Or someone else’s sexual abuse. The suicidal ideation that was the real reasons for the hospitalization.
I haven’t told those secrets and mostly I try not to think about them, but as for me, my secrets, they are few and far in between. Mostly because they don’t bode well unless it’s me knowing a friend is about to be proposed to or there is a surprise birthday party or baby shower. I haven’t seen secret keeping, minus the previously aforementioned scenarios, really bode well for anyone. Secrets tend to lead to shame. And shame tends to take away from our sense of worthiness and often leads to captivity. And you can’t really LIVE if your held hostage by secrets.
Photo courtesy of Melly Woods
So I told. And not only did I feel better, but all of those friends honestly responded exactly the way I needed them too. They flooded my inbox with reminders that helped me put things in perspective, let go of the things that I was simply not able to change, except my best (because I do have an unfortunate soft spot for perfection), and to take care of myself. A few even asked about good times in the coming months to come visit. I wouldn’t have gotten those helpful reminders had I just laid in bed until the last possible moment and then got out of bed to go handle my business. No one would have known I needed them. Heck, I wouldn’t have known I needed them.
Some of you may be thinking “Oh but there are consequences to telling secrets”, families, marriages, corporations can be ruined by telling. And they can. But so can the secret keeper. The secret keeper can start to live a life that comes up short on the full lives they were meant to live. I have a sibling right now who is none too thrilled that I have talked about mental illness in my family or among other siblings on this blog. But for me it’s true, it’s a dynamic that has been woefully underestimated as it pertains to its impact on relationships and family dynamics, and to me acting like it doesn’t happen or not talking or writing about it only adds to the stigma of mental illness and mental health issues. And I am 100% not down with adding stigma to anything. Talk about it and deal with it.
Photo courtesy Asiyami Gold
Besides I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should keep a secret. That’s your choice. I am here to tell you whatever you choose, especially if you choose to keep a secret be mindful of the toll it can take and that secrets tend to rob us of the things we say we want and overcompensate in other areas of our lives to achieve.
Maybe this week you’ll take a moment to see what secrets you’ve been keeping and maybe you have a person or several persons you can share that secret with. I make no promises that eh circumstances around your secret will change, but I am wiling to confidently suggest you’ll feel better. Maybe not immediately, especially if the secret pertains to any type of abuse or infidelity, but eventually you will.
Here’s to a week with less secrecy, feeling a little lighter, and more liberty!