(Originally published on October 11, 2012)
No matter what Mama told you, family secrets ARE deadly. What one doesn’t know CAN hurt them. You may not die in the natural, but your spirit can be torn into pieces, all due to the mishaps of your forefathers and those who came before you. Older people—especially our grandparents and beyond—have this screwed up (yes, I said it) way of thinking that makes them believe when you don’t talk about problems that they’ll disappear.
Well I’m from a new generation and I’m here to tell you that what you sweep under the rug WILL eventually manifest and find an entrance back into your life. You will eventually have to deal with the same issues that you tried so hard to disregard—or should I say “guard”?
Family secrets. We all have them. Believe me, even if YOU don’t know about them—they’re there, and I’d be willing to bet that they show up in your life in ways you would be shocked to discover. I’m talking about the kind of secrets that will disrupt and uproot the entire functionality of a family if ever revealed.
What you allow to “stay in the family” will cause a lot of heartache and confusion for future generations who will be forced to fight an enemy that was never intended for them to encounter. If you’re silent, generational curses and habitual offenses continue for years and years to come. I will do whatever I can to BREAK those curses and stop them from reoccurring in my life and the lives of my children. Would you render that spirit of selfishness and do the same? How could your family heal if you decided to take the necessary steps to living a life free some shame? I wonder.
Family secrets are like ongoing infections that spread through its members for generations and generations. They cause cancerous roots that become so entangled that the most intense radiation treatments are needed to even begin the process of burning away the layers it has built.
Why do we hold on to these?
Many times people think they are actually doing the right thing and even protecting their loved ones (or even just themselves) when they keep these secrets. What they fail to realize is that with these very secrets, we carry more guilt and shame than if we were to tell the truth and heal from the truth–rather than live a lie. So I’ll tell you like a wonderful lyricist by the name of Emeli Sande says: “If the truth has been forbidden, then I’m breaking all the rules.” That’s my train of thought. I will do what it takes to live a full life—free from the burdens of those before me and even those thrown on me that I had to figure out where it came from.
I refuse to sit back and accept this awful pattern that I grew up in of thinking that talking about problems brings too much shame and guilt to deal with. I come from the polar opposite viewpoint of believing that talking about hard topics brings healing and liberation, and I will do what it takes to break this cycle so that it doesn’t continue in my life and in the lives of my children and my children’s children.
Secrets are kept for a number of reasons: fear, fear of rejection, shame, embarrassment, guilt, and countless other reasons. But if you ask me, the weight of carrying such a heavy burden is more devastating over time. It breaks down the true essence of a person and alters their authenticity; they prevent us from building healthy relationships with people because subconsciously, we’re constantly guarding ourselves.
The fear of disclosing imperfections is too much for many families. Too many people are walking around carrying shame from what they see and witness behind closed doors that it shuts a part of them down. When secrets are kept, a person never walks in their full identity; it’s like living a double life. They have to put on a front for outsiders (those who don’t see them in their true element). It’s so easy to get caught in this pattern; it’s like a get-away! We have friends…but we only let them know us on a certain level. We love people, but we’re hiding ourselves. We have these people we connect with but they don’t truly KNOW us. We hide behind a mask: for some it’s their ministry, others stay to themselves, and some people flip-flop depending on who they’re around. And then those closest to us have to see us portraying ourselves in a different light when we’re around other people who don’t know us like family does. We sacrifice our identity, our own self-value—because we become fixated on protecting a certain part of ourselves that disallows the true nature of our being to be exposed. Where did you learn to do this? Who taught you to be ashamed of just being YOU?
Maybe for some this is too “deep” or over your head. But I challenge you to examine yourself and your family dynamics…things spoken and unspoken.
What makes you “tick”? There’s a reason behind it.
Why do I get angry at that?
Why do I suffer from depression?
Why can’t I hold a job or manage money?
What is it about you that makes me treat you less than I do others who I feel like can give me something?
Why can’t I connect with people like I want to?
How could I give up my babies and then pretend like they never existed?
How could I be raped by my brother, yet we laugh and sit at the table for family dinner on holidays and pretend that nothing happened?
Why do I feel so entitled?
– Ever wonder why it was so easy for you to abort your baby? Maybe there’s a history of that in your family. It’s worth thinking about.
– I’m just giving examples of things that I KNOW people deal with internally but never speak on.
– Why do you throw other people under the bus so quickly when you find yourself in a questionable or tumultuous state of panic?
– What makes you internalize a Facebook status that has nothing to do with you and become enraged and have a heart of retaliation…all without communicating with someone directly? Hmm. What’s in YOU?
Search yourself and patterns within your family. Dare to make a difference and cut away things that are hindering growth in your life.
Keeping secrets may be a temporary fix, but at what cost? What have you lost along the way? Who could you be…who would you be if you let it go?
Liberate yourself and someone else by telling your story.