Before we spill our secrets, here’s a glimpse of the latest Blossoms:
In How to Recreate Yourself When a Relationship Ends, I share tips for a reader who asked for help moving on after her ex-boyfriend announced his engagement to someone else. Breakups are never easy…but sometimes they’re an opportunity for renewal.
Speaking of renewal – it was an eye-opener to share 7 Smart Ways to Adjust to Being a Single Woman Over 40! Is being a single woman in your 40s a dream come true or your worst nightmare? Both, it turns out.
And, a reader asked for tips for talking to her uncommunicative boyfriend. If you have advice or a story, please share in 7 Reasons He Doesn’t Open Up or Talk to You.
Now, let’s dive into the secret I’ve been keeping for 30 years…
Did you know that keeping a secret decreases your energy and saps your strength? Secret keepers are more likely to suffer from headaches, nausea, and back pain. And, secrets have a direct impact on your relationships.
“A secret takes up so much mental space that it interferes with work and romance,” says Barry Lubetkin in the March/April 2017 issue of Psychology Today. “There’s always the need to watch that it doesn’t somehow slip out.”
Secrets are both an emotional and a physical burden.
Research shows that people who have secrets found basic chores such as carrying groceries more physically burdensome. Secret keepers have less motivation and less physical stamina.
Secrets require energy. They require constant monitoring and attention – even if your secrets are 30 years old (like mine is). Secrets tie us down and hold us back.
Secrets don’t make you bad or unlovable.
Your secrets don’t make you a bad person – just a normal one. We all have things we’re embarrassed by or even deeply ashamed of. We’ve all made mistakes, created messes, and deeply hurt people and pets we love.
Your secrets aren’t worse than anybody else’s. You may believe yours are more embarrassing or shameful, but the truth is we’re all huddled in the same cave. We just can’t see each other because nobody is brave enough to turn the light on.
The irony is that the more human, authentic, and transparent we are with other people, the more they love and accept us.
And, if they can’t accept us for who we are, then we need to let them go. It’s better to be authentic and alone than secretive and surrounded by people who don’t really know you.
This morning, while handwriting the rough draft of this newsletter, I decided to share my biggest secret with you. When I was 17 years old, I hitchhiked through Europe with my 20-year-old male cousin. We went to a pub in Amsterdam, drank way too much Holland beer, and kissed on the street. That is a secret I’ve carried for 30 years: I kissed my cousin.
Do you care that I kissed my cousin? Probably not too much. Maybe not at all! But to me it’s a dirty little mudball that I’ve kept stuffed in my heart. I let my secret blacken my soul and steal my joy. And I’m not the only one who holds secrets that – when they’re brought to the light – aren’t as bad as we think.
Something dawned on me while about writing my secret…
My cousin and I were kindred spirits growing up, but we never learned how healthy families show love. Our moms were identical twins; my single mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and his mom struggled with addictions and other mental health issues. Our moms couldn’t teach us healthy love because of their own issues.
My cousin and I loved each other in a good cousin-y way, but neither of us knew how to express it. We weren’t bad people. We were foolish, drunk, wounded kids.
Writing helped me see my secret differently. It’s not easy to open up and share this secret, but I want to be a woman who does what she encourages others to do.
What would it feel like to be free of the secrets that weigh you down? Writing – especially by hand, on paper – can bring insight and healing in ways that thinking or talking can’t.
What to do
1. Think about the secrets you’ve never told. Experiences, mistakes, accidents, failures, bad choices, things left undone, words left unsaid, unspoken dreams, unanswered prayers – those can be secrets that weigh you down.
2. Tackle the worst one. Write it all out on paper – even the parts that make you want to hurl. Nobody will read your secret; you can rip it up or burn it or shred the paper, quick like a bunny. Just get the secret out of you.
3. Take a deep breath. How were you involved in the secret? Did someone do something to you, or did you do something? Ask God to give you insight and wisdom. Try to be objective, to see yourself and the situation from a distance. This is hard. That’s why counseling can be powerful. A counselor helps you see through your pain and shame, to the underlying factors.
4. Stop judging and condemning yourself. You believe something bad about yourself because of your secret – otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret! But your secret doesn’t define you. It’s simply part of your story. It happened, it’s over, and it’s time to rise and move forward.
5. Ask for forgiveness. You made a foolish, unhealthy, or selfish choice — or maybe you accidentally hurt or even killed a person or pet. Give it to God. Ask Him to forgive you. If you need to make amends with the person you hurt, think about how it might happen.
6. Learn how to forgive yourself. Sometimes our secrets carry such deep shame, guilt, and regret that forgiving ourselves seems impossible. And yes – it’s hard to let ourselves off the hook! We think we deserve to be punished, so we torture ourselves by holding on to the shame and pain. This isn’t just unhealthy, it’s sinful. Not forgiving yourself puts a barrier between you and God — who forgave you the second you asked Him to! When you turn towards your secrets and shame, you turn away from God.
You’ll be lighter, happier, and freer when you don’t have to worry about watching your words or hiding your past! You’ll just be you, and free to keep Blossoming into who God created you to be.