The Danger of Keeping Secrets

‘The Secret That Became My Life’ is a very interesting article published in Psychology Today (January/February 2014). It is a story about the ‘identity-warping nature of secrets and lies’.

Jane was married to a loving man and together they had two children. Throughout their marriage, she became suspicious that something was wrong. Years later, he confessed that he was homosexual. They both wanted to maintain the façade of their perfect family, which meant that Jane now had to become a secret keeper as well.

Throughout this very long and difficult journey, she learned that managing a secret is a full time job. Looking back at her story, she shares valuable insight about how secrets and lies affect everyone involved:

  • 2014-01 139808-140928-teaserSecrets close doors between people.
  • The secret keeper can become distant and quiet, because they are constantly trying to avoid important subjects.
  • The other person in the relationship often lives in a state of ignorance.
  • Once the secret keeper finds courage to confess, it can be very painful and humiliating. They often feel guilty.
  • Keeping a secret demands habitual denial, which gradually may morph into self-deception resulting in the diminution of the self.
  • The secret keeper worries about being found out. They try to create an internal story that keeps self-judgment at bay. They rationalize, explain and cover over the truth.
  • Keeping secrets diminishes your self-worth to the detriment of your relationships.
  • An honest account of the circumstances that led to the secret is often necessary to begin the process of healing.

Eventually, Jane and her husband could no longer keep the secret. Though they still care for each other, they separated. She recognizes now ‘the pattern of deceit and denial’ that her family lived and now sees that truth brings relief.

Jane’s story gives us a powerful reminder of the danger of keeping secrets and lies within our relationships. She put it best when she said: ‘What may start as a simple set of secrets can spread through a person’s character like a cancer.”

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