I grew up in a situation where I was being abused by my father. He wasn’t the only person in my life who told me, “Shhh…Don’t tell anyone…”
I consequently married a man who I coined the phrase had “secret behaviours” – not the same kind of secret behaviours as my father, but he kept secrets and would rather die than out anyone, even when it was harmful to himself. He had been well trained by his father who had some addictions, “Shhhh..don’t tell anyone…”, so when I came along with my liberated mouth – I’d had to work through the damage my father did with his secrets – it was quite a struggle between us. Things that his family kept under the rug, I confronted openly. This caused a lot of problems in the first years of our marriage, as I offended family members by not honouring the “secret” family code.
The problem with this kind of lifestyle is that secrets are secrets because they have the potential for harm. The question is, who are they really harming? And why do we keep harmful secrets in darkness where they have power over us, when if they were addressed openly healing and freedom could come?
My father’s secrets were harming me.
My husband’s father’s secrets were harming his family, as he had a couple of vices that he didn’t want his wife to know about. So he was constantly intimidating his sons to keep his secrets.
So I have come to the conclusion, that secrets, if they have the potential for harm, should not be kept secrets. And that what can’t be shared without harm, shouldn’t be silenced. There should be a way for the person who is being told to keep it secret, to be released from being in that position.
The whole confidentiality gag on what can be shared can also be used as a potential tool for harm. I have been in meetings where people were told quite inflammatory information, then told they cannot discuss it with anyone. How could they validate that information if they can’t investigate it openly?
Now I acknowledge that some secrets are meant to be kept and need to be honoured.
For example, what my children are going to get as a surprise. That secret is not harmful to anyone and sharing would spoil the surprise.
Someone getting a promotion. That secret is not harmful.
But it is the kinds of secrets, the “Shhhh…don’t tell anyone, but…” kind of secrets that I am wanting to address here. And these include the harmful gossiping that happens often. You know, where you are ‘sharing’ with a friend about something someone else did or said…
Many years ago when I worked for the WA Police Service I was privileged to attend a Protective Behaviours training session. And in that session one of the biggest things they teach children is that there is nothing so bad that you can’t tell someone you trust.
So the point of this post is to just check in with you and to prompt you to ask some questions like:
- Have I been asked to keep a secret that is harmful to me?
- Am I asking others to keep secrets that may be harmful to them?
- What would be the consequence if I exposed that secret?
- Who could I expose that secret to, if I wanted to share it? Who do I trust?
I was in a situation where I had to expose a pedophile a few years ago. I had to weather the storm of their wrath at being exposed. They had not shared their secrets with me. I had found out via one of their victims. It was very difficult but necessary, because while I said nothing I allowed them the opportunity to potentially harm more children. And too often, these kinds of people intimidate with their passive aggressive or outright aggressive behaviours. But the cost if we don’t speak up is too great. That child had been told that something bad would happen if they told.
A famous quote… “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”
The challenge to me is, are we brave enough to break the silence on things that are harmful to us?
If you are someone that has been keeping a secret that is about yourself and you need to speak to someone, message me and I will help you find the help that you need. It is time for breaking the silence and getting the liberty that comes from living an open and honest life.