They say we’re only as sick as our secrets. Truth be told, I don’t really understand what this means. The phrase is used widely in 12-Step circles, the idea being that if we’re keeping secrets then eventually the secret will become an excuse to drink, eat, use, or engage in any addictive, unhealthy activity. I don’t know whether or not this is true but I wonder if, in some circumstances, keeping a secret is okay? I mean, there are things that just aren’t meant to be shared, right?
Comparatively speaking, my secret is probably modest. I haven’t done anything criminal and I’m fortunate enough to have not yet been a victim of any crime. I’ve not cheated on my wife and I’ve done nothing to deliberately hurt another human being or animal. I’m told that the consequences of what I’ve done are all but non-existent; people do this kind of thing all the time. In the long run, the only person I’ve hurt is myself. So I ask myself why I feel this thing I’ve done must be kept a secret and the answer comes back loud and clear – I’m ashamed.
I’m a person that cares too much about what other people think and as a result, I’ve spent a lot of time concentrating on how to make you like me. Am I smart enough? Am I dressed okay? Did I say the right thing? Have I made a mistake? Are you mad at me? Was it something I did/didn’t say? I do an adequate job of not allowing anyone to “see” the internal monologue that runs through my head, but it’s there all the time and sometimes it’s so loud that it drowns out any positive thoughts that I have. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy to care so much about whether or not you like me and yet somehow, I can’t seem to stop caring. Over the years (and as I’ve gotten older) I seem to care less but despite my best effort, the monologue continues to play. I guess that’s why I have this secret.
Until I am able to summon the courage to share what I did today I have to believe that sometimes, it is okay to have a secret. I take solace in the fact that there will always be One who loves me no matter the secrets I carry and it is this One that will give me the strength to someday learn that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to ask for help and I don’t have to be perfect to be liked or accepted or loved. Perhaps I do understand what it means to be as sick as my secrets.