Shhhhh ... Some secrets you might need to keep

// World | Shhhhh ... Some secrets you might need to keep
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
The anxiety that comes with some secrets could be your mind's way of telling you to divulge it, an expert says.
The anxiety that comes with some secrets could be your mind's way of telling you to divulge it, an expert says.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mental health professionals can help you work through your secrets
  • When it comes to extramarital affairs, telling your spouse isn't always best
  • Weigh the consequences of telling someone your secrets before you divulge them

(CNN) -- Strangers often trust Edward with their secrets, whether it be on planes or walking down the street. He even became a confidant in one place that he doesn't want most people to know he spent time: prison.

Edward's biggest secret is that he is a convicted felon, having been arrested twice for driving under the influence of alcohol. The second time, he spent 90 days behind bars contemplating his life.

Those reflections helped him make better life choices in the 10 years that have gone by since, he says. But he belongs to a professional organization that would boot him immediately if anyone there ever found out about his conviction, and he still fears that someone in it will discover what he's hiding. Edward, and the others who agreed to speak about their personal experiences for this article, asked that their real names not be used to protect their identities.

"It's not shame that's the reason I'm holding secrets in, especially with the DUI," says Edward, 35, who lives in the Midwest. "It's more about, I don't feel like getting into the story again to have to explain why I'm not your typical felon" -- a violent or sexual offender.

While he says he feels no guilt or shame about his criminal record, he laments he can probably never run for public office because his secret would emerge.

People keep secrets for all kinds of reasons.

Sam von Reiche, psychologist and success coach located in northern New Jersey, believes everyone has secrets to some extent.

"We all end up with some sense internally that we've done something wrong, or that there's something wrong about us and a little deceptive," she said. "I think that's just part of the human condition."

Generally, says von Reiche, "secrets do create a lot of separation from other people, and they also prevent you from feeling truly authentic." But psychologists say there are also situations where it might be better to withhold information from people, even close friends, if the revelation of secrets would cause more pain to you and others.

Abuse

Nancy, 21, is still dealing with her feelings toward her ex-boyfriend, who physically abused her. They were together for four months in college and then broke up -- at least, that's what Nancy's friends thought.

But secretly, Nancy went back to him after one week. She didn't want her friends to know because she knew they would think it was a bad idea.

"I was just convinced that he was going to change, and it was my fault," she said.

But he didn't change. Three months later, Nancy's relationship ended when, she says, she had to call the police because of his abuse.

Nancy, who also lives in the Midwest, has seen a therapist, but secretly longs for her ex despite the abuse. She found a website called Secret Regrets where people can anonymously share situations that no one knows about.

"I regret not being able to let you go," Nancy wrote in a post. "I came back to you for the second time when I knew exactly what was going to happen."

Kevin Hansen, who founded Secret Regrets, has collected about 25,000 confessions from people who are hiding something from a lot of people. The sentiment among many of them, he says, is "nobody else could possibly understand what I'm going through, so I'm not going to tell anyone." Anonymity makes it more comfortable.

Hansen "has always been passionate about helping people," according to the website. He studied psychology and human behavior while earning a business degree, "and now, he's discovered an amazing way to reach people struggling with the biggest regrets of their lives, and connect them with others who know what they're going through."

The feedback from other anonymous users has helped, Nancy said. Some of the messages said things such as "you got out a lot sooner than me."

Anyone who has secrets about abuse should seek professional help, says Bobbie McDonald, a psychologist in Newport Beach, California. Revealing details of an ongoing situation can be risky, as an abuser's behavior can be unpredictable. A counselor, psychologist or expert at a hotline can help put the person in touch with the right resources.

Abortion

Irene, 23, found out she was pregnant in August 2009. Her boyfriend at that time didn't want her to keep the child. Initially she wanted to go forward with the pregnancy, though she later changed her mind.

Irene, who lives in the South, didn't tell anyone in her family about the pregnancy until after the fact. Her mother didn't speak to her for two weeks, but eventually calmed down, she said.

Everyone she has told has been supportive about it, but it's not something she shares with everyone. Her grandparents, for instance, still don't know. Like Nancy, she found support on the Secret Regrets website, where women in their 60s tell her things will get easier with time.

The pregnancy and abortion used to be a source of shame, and Irene used to cry about it a lot. These days, she is able to tell herself that she made the right decision. She was able to finish school and move on from a dysfunctional relationship with her former boyfriend.

"Self-forgiveness is always critical to helping someone move past whatever secret that is," von Reiche said. She sometimes gives clients take-home exercises -- write down 15 reasons that you forgive yourself, for example.

Lifestyle choices

The skeletons that Rachel keeps in her closet are actually costumes. Tucked away in her studio apartment are a wolf's head and a full leopard outfit.

Rachel, 26, doesn't want her co-workers to know that she's a "furry."

Portrayals in popular culture may suggest the furry movement is about having sex in animal costumes, but for some people that's not part of it at all, she said.

Individuals may define "furry" differently, but in Rachel's view, furry fandom consists of people who enjoy cartooning, fantasy and humanized creatures. It's a way of identifying yourself through animal characteristics, she said, and some furries just appreciate the artwork.

Rachel herself lives in the Midwest and is an artist on the side, drawing humanized animal characters. She particularly identifies with the hyena that she draws a lot.

As much as she enjoys going to furry conventions, she tries to keep that under wraps at work. She's a manager at a Web software company and wants to maintain a certain level of professionalism.

"If people knew I had this whimsical side that likes to dress up and goof off, and that I draw cartoons in my spare time, that might seem kind of off-kilter," she said.

It's important for people to be comfortable and confident with all parts of themselves, McDonald says. But there are situations where revealing part of your identity would do more harm than good.

"It can be unhealthy to reveal certain parts of ourselves if there are people close to us that would be very unaccepting of it, because of the pain and the separation that that would cause to reveal that," McDonald said.

Affairs

"My biggest regret is that I ever started cheating on my husband," says a post on the Secret Regrets site. "Every time I do it, I say it's the last time, but it never is. I don't know how to stop, and I feel so guilty about it."

It's a secret that psychologists often hear -- that someone has cheated on a spouse.

If it's a one-time transgression -- perhaps a fling on a business trip -- it might be worth keeping that a secret from your partner, said Karen Sherman, a psychologist in Long Island, New York.

Some therapists might say honesty is important if there is to be healing in the relationship, Sherman said. But her own view is that it depends on the individual case. "Sometimes there really is more damage caused by telling it," she said.

However, if you're involved in an ongoing affair and living a duplicitous life, you should end one relationship or the other, McDonald said. "I think it's important to really take the time to introspectively look at all aspects of your situation."

The purpose of secrets

Shame, fear of embarrassment or fear of not being accepted often are the motivation behind keeping something secret.

But the anxiety that comes with some secrets isn't entirely bad, von Reiche said. Like nausea, "anxiety is your mind's way of telling you that something you are carrying needs to be purged," she said.

In other words, you may feel better if you get it out in a safe place, such as by confiding in a trusted friend, family member, community leader or mental health professional.

Therapists will keep your secrets except under certain conditions, such as if you are endangering yourself or others -- that's mandated by federal and state laws. If you are having suicidal thoughts, this is not a secret you should be alone with. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

But the main message in many of these scenarios is that you should weigh the consequences -- both to you and someone else. Think about whom you tell, how that person will react and whether you will both be better off.

"If the world were ready to be accepting of everyone, it would be a better place," McDonald said. "In an ideal society, we would have no secrets. Do I think that's likely in your lifetime or my lifetime? No."

Are you holding on to a secret? Tell us in the comments.

0
Comments »
  • Print
  • Email
  • More sharing
Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

UK NGO Blasts Okonjo-Iweala For Protecting Corruption In Nigeria, Calls For Her Resignation

The Corner House, a United Kingdom non-governmental organization, has urged Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister, to resign her appointment if she ... Full story

Nigerian ‘Witch Hunter’ Pastor Helen Ukpabio To Be Banned From The UK

Campaigners are urging for Helen Ukpabio, known as 'Lady Apostle', to be deported and banned from returning to the UK on the grounds her preaches ... Full story

Ex Beauty Queen And Nollywood Legend Regina Askia Visits Nigeria

Regina Askia-Williams (born Imaobong Regina Askia Usoro, Lagos, Nigeria, 1967) is a Nigerian-born, American-based registered nurse (RN), healthcare and educational activist, television producer, writer, and ...

18 Year Old S3x Worker Oluwatosin Ami Gang-Raped To Death

Two gangsters have been arrested by Policemen attached to the Orile Police Division in Lagos State for allegedly raping and killing an 18-year-old commercial sex ...

One dead, many injured after rival cult groups fight over girlfriend

A 33-year-old man has been killed during a feud between two rival cult groups around Iba new site. Trouble, as gathered, started on Monday, April 14, ...

Bus somersaults on Third Mainland injuring four

At least four people sustained injuries after a passenger bus somersaulted on the Third Mainland Bridge, Lagos, on Tuesday. It was learnt that the incident occurred ...

Boko Haram Terrorists Abduct 200 School Girls In Borno State

Suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Tuesday abducted no fewer than 100 girls at the Senior Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, following a violent attack in ... Full story

Wasila Tasi’u, 14 year-old bride charged for killing 35 year-old husband

14 year-old bride, Wasila Tasi’u, was on Monday charged before a Rijiyar Zaki Magistrates’ Court in Kano for alleged culpable homicide.Wasila is facing the charge ... Full story

Nyanya Motor Park Bomb Blast: 88 Confirmed Dead, Over 200 Injured

A total of 88 people were Monday killed when a car laden with improvised explosive devices (IEDS) went off at the Nyanya Motor Park at ...

Atiku Abubakar Asks President Jonathan To Seek Foreign Assistance To Fight Boko Haram

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has expressed anger and sadness at the bombings of the in the suburbs of Abuja that left scores dead and ...

President Goodluck Jonathan visits hospital and bomb explosion site - Photos

President Goodluck Jonathan has visited the Nyanya motor park which was today the site of a massive explosion. He also visited the survivors in hospital.   Large ...

Comment on: Shhhhh ... Some secrets you might need to keep

Rate this article

0

Featured author

Paula Obiewkwe

Breaking News

It’s So Difficult For Me To Meet Single People-Yvonne Okoro

Half-Nigerian, half-Ghanaian actress, Yvonne Okoro, I guess the lots would be in her favour as she seems to be doing better than ever, career wise.But ...

Lillian Esoro heart has been broken, shattered, scattered

When it comes to relationships, The path some have found so smooth is the same path others may see as bumpy, uphill and rough. The ...

Egor Efiok Blasts Managers Who Run Errands For Celebs

In Nigeria, it is very common to see celebrities rule over their managers, whereas, it should have been the other way round. Public figures in ...

I Speak 9 Languages And I Will Learn More—DJ Spinall

Do you have a story/gist for publication? Please email it to story@nigeriafilms.com Banda | 4/16/2014 12:04:24 PM Nine languages: Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, Benin, and what else Reply this ...

City People Hosts Ronke Oshodi Oke Friday

Prolific Yoruba actress, Ronke Oshodi Oke will be hosted by a Lagos-based softsell magazine, City People. The grand event will take place at Mozida Night ...

Emma Nyra Clears The Air Over Misconception Of Having A Crush On Terry G

Do you have a story/gist for publication? Please email it to story@nigeriafilms.com mr ken | 4/16/2014 12:07:28 PM Wow!!! MTN IS IN TROUBLE AGAIN, I have been ...

Funke Akindele, Tiwa Savage For ‘Islanders International Magazine’ Awards

Sunday, April 27, 2014 has been set aside for the second edition of the Islanders International Magazine Awards, which holds in Lagos. From indications, all ...

I’m The Real King Of RnB, Not Banky W—Darey Art Alade Declares

Talented Nigerian singer and songwriter, Darey Art Alade, popularly known as Darey, has declared himself as ‘the king of RnB’ in Nigeria.The ‘Soul Muzik’ artiste ...

Apostle Helen Ukpabio gets Labelled as a ‘Witch Hunter', Critics Call for her to be Banned from the UK

According to a report on IndependentUK, the Home Secretary Theresa May is being urged to ban Nigerian Apostle Helen Ukpabio, who claims to have been ...

British Museum To Host VIP Premiere of "Invasion 1897" in August

Lancelot Imasuen has confirmed that the British Museum will host the VIP Premiere of his Centenary epic “Invasion 1897” on August 16, 2014 in London, ...