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.
- When Do You Need Comfort? (caregiving.com)
- Competing for Caregiving (caregiving.com)
- When So Much Changes, Can the Love Stay the Same? (caregiving.com)
- Tips to Manage Dementia Care During the Holidays (caregiving.com)
- With Self-Care, You Keep (caregiving.com)
- Would You Want to Know? (caregiving.com)
- Tell Us: Holiday Tips for the First-Time Family Caregiver (caregiving.com)