The Shame of a Secret

There are many times in therapy when a client is finally able to share a secret that they have held onto since childhood. The air becomes palpable with relief, the client expresses how the space around them feels lighter, and there are often tears indicative of their loss.

When we are children, we internalize everything. When trauma occurs, when we witness something or are a victim of something that we understand is ‘wrong,’ we automatically feel that somehow it must be our fault. There can be both an unspoken expectation, or a verbal message that we must keep this a secret. Sometimes a child comes from a background where they have no one to tell; but in many instances, even children who have trusting adults in their lives, will guard the secret. The reason? Shame.

Shame is an insidious emotion; it resides in us because it was given to us. It accompanies childhood trauma and until it is spoken aloud and processed, it will continue to occupy a space in ourselves. In telling the secret, it is important to understand that something can come of it, or nothing can come of it – the choice as an adult is always ours. The important part is the integrating; the sharing; allowing a trusted friend, partner or therapist to help you hold it.

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