Blog 35. The Family: Buried Secrets In Your Family Can Be Detrimental To Your Health And Your Relationships.
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Most if not every family carries a secret/s that has either consciously or unconsciously been handed down, sometimes through many generations.
Usually the behaviour is buried and unconscious, yet it gets repeated and kept secret and hidden within the family – generation after generation.
These secrets can remain dormant until there is a crisis or when issues force the secret out into the open.
Sometimes secrets are just habits that get past down from one generation to another. We can repeat the silliest of things, without knowing why.
Other times, the secret can be so buried in the unconscious, propelling us to behave and act without realizing that, our behaviour is a direct result of the secret we may be ‘carrying’.
And shame is a powerful motive for keeping secrets.
For example, the first daughter of each generation may have an abortion. Abortions are often taboo in certain families, religions, cultures, philosophies and so on. Consequently, if this deed is seen as vile and a sin, then it may remain hidden and kept a secret. Yet this secret can be replayed by each generation until someone finally speaks up and asks the appropriate questions, in this case, about abortions, in the family. And even then because of the shame involved, the secret may remain buried as certain members may not want to admit to their actions. This is how things remain buried and hidden for so long.
This could equally apply to situations of rape, sexual abuse or incest, pregnancy out of wedlock, a child isn’t told about their biological parents or that they are adopted, children from previous or current relationships are hidden and not spoken about, divorce, affairs, homosexuality, money and debt issues, gambling, health and mental problems, addictions and so on.
In Blog 33 I wrote about the Danish film which I highly recommend called Festen. It was produced by Nimbus and directed by Thomas Vinterberg. It was released under the title the Celebration in the United States. It was also adapted for British theatre by David Eldridge in 2004.
This is a further example of how families prefer to keep secrets buried.
It is the story of a family, gathering to celebrate their father’s 60th birthday. At dinner, the eldest son publicly accuses his father of sexually abusing both him and his twin sister (who had recently committed suicide). He opens an emotional can of worms but the family slowly shut him up, as none of the other family members are prepared to admit or accept the realities of what has happened within the family.
In Blog 33 I also explained the Family system and just as a reminder: Families often need a ‘black sheep’ that they can project all their problems onto. Rather than dealing with emotional problems it’s often easier to project it onto a member of the family. This often helps to keep the rest of the family emotionally okay albeit in denial. This process of ‘black sheep selection’ normally occurs unconsciously within most families. The black sheep of each generation also helps repeat the taboo pattern within the family.
What is not recognized however, is that secrets can have detrimental effects:
The energy required to keep secrets hidden can make people sick, it can damage relationships and it doesn’t help maintain honesty – honesty within the family, friends, partners, or with oneself. It can create distrust and anger.
Your choice of friends and partner/s can be a direct result of the secrets carried within your family.
And secrets can stop you getting close to people in case they find out your secret. And this can create crippling and unnecessary guilt.
It can feed or create a lack of self worth and self-confidence. It can create self-hatred and this can lead to a series of issues like bulimia, anorexia nervosa, narcissism, abuse, bullying, control issues and so on.
Secrets can therefore freeze the healthy development of an individual.
It can divide people and they can feel permanently estranged from family members.
When a secret is buried deep in the unconscious there may be that worrying feeling that there is “something wrong but I can’t put my finger on it”. Also, a range of emotions may be felt without a real understanding of the root cause.
Yet fear of the unknown or what may be uncovered often deters people from uncovering secrets. Carrying secrets is hard work. Yet dealing with the past irrespective of what happened can create healing, and it can result in utter relief.
A person who seeks to undo the damage caused by family secrets must accept that revealing a secret is not a betrayal but a necessity to healthy development.
Having the courage to face secrets often puts an end to generations of repeated denial.
Not all secrets are destructive. Many are essential to establishing bonds between two people.
If however any behaviour becomes destructive and it prevents you from moving forward and achieving your goals you may want to start your journey of finding out why. This will only benefit you and it will help you understanding your past so that you can make better choices to suit your life goals.
So what’s stopping you?
Note: © 2014 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
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