Secrets

screenshot_20171009-1319446376931420827440401.pngSometimes we do things we aren’t proud of. Maybe things happen to us that embarrass us or cause us shame. For some of us, there are things about our identity that we just know will make others hate us. Occasionally, we take those things and we turn them into secrets.

I used to think a secret was this thing we bury inside of ourselves that we want to protect from others. Lately I have been noticing something different. It seems that secrets aren’t things that we lock away in a cage somewhere, but things that lock us in cages.

Here’s the pattern I have been seeing. There’s a thing, a thing that causes us some shame and we have ourselves a secret. We go to great lengths to protect our secret. We lie, we evade, we deny, you know the drill. Sometimes we might think about just confessing the secret. We might even feel the words creeping up into our throats when around people we care about. We practice the words when we are alone.

 

“I cheated on you.”

“I take things.”

“I was abused as a kid.”

“I’m gay.”

“I’m in a lot of debt you don’t know about.”

“I throw up on purpose.”

 

We imagine what might happen if the secret crosses our lips and the image is almost always horrific. We envision people throwing things, telling others or walking away. It’s better if we don’t talk about it, ever. Things are good now, it’s not a good time. It would be selfish of me to confess this, I would only be doing it to relieve my own conscience.

Unfortunately, the longer it stays inside of us the worse things get. You might start to think that everyone knows and you look stupid. Or you start to tell yourself that if the people in your life knew, they wouldn’t be in your life. Then over time, every display of affection toward you gets immediately discounted. Someone says, “Wow, you are so awesome, I just love you.” And you hear a voice inside of you say, “If you really knew me you wouldn’t.”

At some point the little secret you kept in a cage deep inside has become the warden at the jail in which you are the only captive. And bizarrely enough, you are the only one who holds the key.

What a twisted mess.

 

So, what do you do? Well, sorry friend, I can’t tell you. That sucks, huh? The trouble with this mess is, there is no suitable one size fits all answer.

This is what I will tell you. As someone who was a chronic secret keeper, finally unlocking my own prison was the most magical thing I ever did for myself. Depending on the secret there were different ramifications. Some I was welcomed to pleasant surprises of support and affirmation and some left me with some bruised relationships that required work and healing. I also have some pals who have recently started living openly and vulnerably with people around them. For all of us, once the dust settles we find a fresh wind of confidence, strength and self acceptance that is worth far more than anything we might have been protecting ourselves from by keeping it inside.

I’ll leave you with this. There is officially no advice in this post, just an observation. If you think there are secrets compromising your relationships and you want help uncovering them, that might be an excellent reason to find a local therapist. We are good at that kind of thing.

Gratitude: The Antidepressant

Five years ago (ish) I was depressed. Lucky for me, so was one of my new friends. I was feeling old and getting older and felt like my life didn’t fit me. It was like a cheap pair of jeans that rode too high, sat too low and the button would never stay buttoned. Life was frustrating, uncomfortable and I felt like I looked ridiculous. My friend was younger, smart and catching on too quickly to the meaninglessness in what “grown-ups” spent their lives doing. In short, we were a miserable pair.

I don’t know what it was, me, her, some lame Facebook meme or what, but somewhere along the line we challenged each other to be grateful. Everyday. Every night really. We would text each other a list of five things that happened that day that we were glad for. It could be little, it could be huge, that didn’t matter. It just had to make our day better that day.

When we started, it was easy.

  1. Ice Cream
  2. no dog poop in my house
  3. warm blankets
  4. Paycheck day
  5. Dr. Pepper

After a few weeks it got harder.

  1. the dumpster is close to my house
  2. oranges
  3. lists
  4. numbers.
  5. I didn’t die.

Some days she would force me. Some days I would force her.

Some days we just wouldn’t do it. But most days we did.

The effects weren’t immediate. But they were powerful. It was such hard work some days to come up with something that made me feel happy or glad that day. Over time, something started to shift where it became easier and easier again. If you had asked me back then why life was getting better, I would have said, “well, life is just BETTER now than it was then. I am just lucky. Things are just happening.” But that is NOT what was happening for us. Gratitude was rewiring our brains. We could see more clearly just how great things were for us. That, in turn, made us feel better. That, in turn, made us try more things. That, in turn, gave us new opportunities. That, in turn, made life more exciting. And now, life is perfect. Just kidding. I have bad days and she has bad days, but they are nothing like what they were before gratitude. In fact, suddenly, I find myself in a field I’m wildly passionate about and she finds herself currently travelling all over the globe. Two lifelong passions now realized.  Seems like a good change.

 

Give it shot. You only have discontent to lose.

 

 

 

Well Hi There.


Making promises is a very important thing. When done right they are a beautiful commitment to keeping our word and a significant aid in an effort to build trust and connection. When done poorly they set bad expectations and cause injury and brokenness, diluting trust in others and in our own abilities.

To avoid making a promise can sometimes be as detrimental to a relationship as a broken one.

So here are a few promises that I will make to you that I’m sure I can keep.

I promise to be honest.

There is nothing more disruptive in my own relationships than believing that the person across from me has figured everything out. Don’t worry, you’ll find none of that here.

I promise to be open.

Curiosity might kill cats, but it transforms humans. I know only what I have observed through my middle aged, white, moderately educated eyes. Openness, curiosity, and a willingness to accept my faults and inadequacies are what enable me to widen my perspective to include visions from your perspective. I’m not afraid to be wrong or fuzzy in my understanding. If you want to add to the conversation, please do. The contact page will show you how.

I promise to shed light.

I don’t know about you, but life is exhausting, and difficult and people can be really awful. I don’t believe division is the way forward. It is my intention to create a space that lifts you up out of that awful mess and help you think about something different. Let’s think about something that sheds light on your life. By “sheds light” I mean both brings understanding and creates that warm happy feeling of being in the sun. That is what I need to do more, feel more, and find more of.

 

So there you have it. Let’s come back to this post again and again to make sure we are on the right path. Let’s think about life and being in ways that we haven’t before. Let’s try on new ideas that change the texture of life and walk us toward freedom and self acceptance.