Tell Us: Your Secret That’s Got You

top-secret-folder-mdThis morning on Your Caregiving Journey, Chris joined me to share his secret. You can listen to our show via the player below.

During our show, Chris shared that he loved and cared for his partner, Father Orlando, until his death in 2006. For many reasons, he stayed silent about the relationship and the care he provided. His silence, though, kept him from processing the importance of his role and his relationship.

When we keep secrets, we keep what we need at bay. We keep mum about what’s going on in our life, so we stay adrift, unable to ask for those desperately needed life rafts. For Chris, his secret prevented him from receiving the support he needed in his caregiving role and then as he grieved after his role ended. Because of his secret, he couldn’t say, “Hey, I need help, too! It’s hard to be the family caregiver” and “Hey, I’m really sad! I need to talk about how much I miss him.”

We keep secrets for many reasons; primarily, we fear recriminations and judgments. And, because we fear the vulnerability during a coming-out party that we must give our secret, we may choose to keep mum rather than take the chance we’re telling the wrong audience.

In 2004 and 2005, I kept a secret about the overwhelming amount of debt that I had accumulated. To me, it was shameful to have finances so out-of-control. I now talk about that debt as recently as during a seminar I gave on Thursday. I shared about my drive to pay down my debt as the audience members nodded in agreement–they know what it’s like to feel swallowed by those collection calls.

I also think we convince ourselves we can get by–we don’t need anyone to know our secret. I think we may choose to keep some areas of our life private and some can stay private. It’s those other parts–those parts to which attach shame–that become the secrets that weigh on us. We believe we carry secrets in silence. And, while we may not speak of our secrets, our secrets out us. We make poor choices, avoid healthy decisions, cower in corners. When we live in the secret, we never give ourselves a chance to be understood, to be validated, to be helped, to be move into tomorrow without the chains of today.

Today, tell us the secret that holds you hostage. Feel free to share in our comments section, below.


  • You can listen to our shows with Kristi Petersen Schoonover here. Kristi, who became a family caregiver at age 8, didn’t begin to share her caregiving story until recently, more than 30 years later. During our shows, she speaks about the importance of finding a way to tell your story.
  • In 2009, I ran a terrific three-part series on shame, which you can read here. You’ll also be able to listen to our talk shows which accompanied our series.

Listen to internet radio with Denise Brown on Blog Talk Radio
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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

4 thoughts on “Tell Us: Your Secret That’s Got You

  1. Avatar of BobBob

    One of my secrets is how there are times when I just do not want to go anymore. I grow very exhausted; overwhelmed; depressed; anxious. Sometimes, I can’t think straight. I suffer from a lot of shame and guilt about my wife wound up in a nursing home. I blame myself. I have a terrible time making decisions, mostly because there are so many I have to make. Most days I don’t feel like getting out of bed I’m so depressed. But as I get myself going, I feel more energized and I believe my Higher Power jumps in to help light my way for the day. It’s much easier, when I can pull back and stay in the moment. Mornings seem to be the worst time for me. With Bipolar II depression, mornings are usually the worst time for people. There are a lot of things I need to do to maintain my self-care including also being in recovery for nicotine addiction. Coincidentally, I’m going to begin volunteering at a Wellness Institute next week. The approach used is very comprehensive. Sometimes I wish I could have an emotional quarterization from some of the deep-seated painful emotions. However, by journaling about them, I hope to understand and manage them better. has become a fundamental key to my wellness. It is a fountain of support, compassion, education, well-being, growth, resources to manage our Caregiving Journey.

    • Avatar of DeniseDenise Post author

      Hi Bob–I feel for you about the mornings. I sometimes struggle, too. I also find that if I just get up and get going (even just going to the kitchen to make coffee) then I can continue. Our next Hot Topics show (Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET) tackles this question: How do you just keep going? You can listen here:

      It’s wonderful to have you with us. :) So grateful for all you share and bring to us here.

  2. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    Talking about my partner’s disorder is by far and away the hardest “coming out” that I have ever done, in large part because of her views. For a long time I was afraid to “betray” her, something she had accused me of back in 2009. Part of the difficulty has come from her misdiagnoses (including schizophrenia), and the fact that there is no way to tell where her MS-acting-like-TBI ends and her psychiatric disorder (whatever it is) begins. That lack of specificity puts us in a No (Wo)man’s Land. Being able to blog here about what our lives are like has been nothing short of a sanity-saving liberation for me. The balance I still strive for is being able to meet my own needs while nurturing our relationship and the trust between us.

  3. Avatar of BobBob

    Thanks so much Denise. I will listen to the blog radio discussion. On my way to spend Christams with my caree. Merry Christmas…..


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