We all have secrets we wish no one would ever find out. We keep them hidden, especially from our loved ones, and understandably so, because once they’re found out, our mind starts stressing over what others will think, and how they will take it. ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZALDE V. PUSUNG
We all have secrets we wish no one would ever find out—impulsive decisions in our childhood, choices we staunchly fought for only to regret later, failure to listen to reason, weaknesses taken for granted by others.
We keep them hidden, especially from our loved ones, and understandably so, because once they’re found out, our mind starts stressing over what others will think, and how they will take it.
Some secrets which will not really affect our family are best forgotten, or can serve as lessons. But what about those that might have repercussions?
Will my family accuse me of lying? Will they turn their backs on me? Will it change the way they see me?
We may have already learned some lessons from those secrets. But does that mean we have indeed moved on? Because it is not the secret itself that may affect us, but the repercussions of not being fully healed from it.
I have been told about a mother who had kept a lifelong secret from her children. Her erratic and callous behavior was a result of her guilt and refusal to move on. Her eldest son, feeling estranged and unloved, decided to leave and fend for himself; her daughters felt resentment and anger towards her. The mother, of course, had her own reasons.
It is truly difficult to keep secrets from the family. It can result in unresolved misunderstandings, conflict and regret. The more we cover up our secrets with lies to keep our silence, the harder it is to recover the trust and respect that were lost.
A friend recently sat down with her 18-year-old daughter who was never told who her real father was. By the time she was 12 and started asking questions, the mother knew that one day she would have to tell the truth.
It took another six years before she mustered the strength to tell her daughter. Tears flowed, but they were tears of joy.
My friend felt like a big thorn had been pulled from her chest, and the daughter finally got the answers she had longed for.
There was no resentment, no anger, and no doubt; the young lady was brought up very well. She grew up with love and support from her mom, siblings and relatives. This is one example of how children will always relate to love.
Some of us are afraid to show our vulnerability and weakness. While it’s difficult, dealing with fear is the mature thing to do. Whatever happened has happened, and no matter that we want to forget, something will always remind us of it.
We must commit to deal with problems head-on. Surely, you know how it feels if you don’t. Fear kills growth. Ghosts from our past will continue to haunt us, unless we face them with self-acceptance and honesty.
Weight of the issue
Considering the weight of the issue helps. Is it small enough to be forgotten? Will it affect your loved ones? Is it something which, if left unresolved, will affect their growth and yours?
Only you can answer those questions. I answered some of mine already, and have had to share some of my secrets with my teenage boys to serve as examples when we talk about their stage in life now. And whether or not it will change how they look at me, I leave it to them.
Through my life with Mark and Joshua, I’ve realized it’s best to view life as a series of experiences, and not ups and downs. I have decided that feeling remorse, self-pity and denial should propel me to higher ground, and help me accept that our response to life’s challenges doesn’t always have to involve fear or anger.
I hope that we all overcome the challenges we face, no matter what secrets we keep. Know that fear is an opportunity for courage to surface. You will never be alone. You may have no one to turn to, but you will always have yourself—your own life to protect, to save, to make worthwhile. And as you read this, don’t ever think it’s impossible.
We may not realize it, but unless we do a reality check, negativity will continue to manifest in our behavior towards those we love. Much worse, we may be living under false pretenses, which may result in dire consequences in the future.
Know that you are a person of worth. If we face our challenges bravely, it will increase our self-worth. And now that we have either children of our own or nieces and nephews who see us as models to emulate, responsibility and accountability should be second nature, not only for ourselves, but for everyone we love.
If you allow your children to grow with guidance and love, rather than hesitation and hostility, the more they will relate to you as an adult. We can’t live without being at peace with our past. It’s a long, tough road, but liberating ourselves from those experiences will also mean forming better relationships with others who truly deserve our attention, without fear, and with much passion.