Words of Wellness

February 01, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

This past week we watched the former governor of Illinois implode.† It brought to mind a Robert Frost quote: "We dance round in a ring and suppose.† While the secret sits in the middle and knows."†† It was hard not to watch as Rod Blagojevich danced round and round the truth, supposing and hoping that his media appearances might have some effect on the outcome of his impeachment trial.† It did not.†

†††† As a culture we seem fascinated with the secrets and lies of famous people.† We are especially attentive when they go to extreme lengths to deny the truth that seems obvious to everyone but them.† I can only assume that we are fascinated by these stories because we see in them a projection (albeit perhaps in extreme form) of ourselves and our own struggles to be honest men and women.† Rather than expend energy wondering how a politician or celebrity could spin such a web of lies, perhaps we are best to look in the mirror and examine our own lives for any secrets, big or small.

†††† The 12-step recovery movement has a great saying:† "You are only as sick as your secrets."† The powerful truth of this may not be quite so obvious at first.† It's not just the content of the secret that is unhealthy, but most often what creates the greatest amount of dis-ease is all the emotional and spiritual energy it requires to keep the secret hidden.†

†††† If you've ever seen the face of a young child who has stolen a cookie from the cookie jar† and is trying to conceal their guilt, you know how much energy it takes.† It takes no less energy for adults to hide their secrets.† Adults, unfortunately,† just get much better at it.

†††† When a secret exists within a family, the whole family ends up dancing "round in a ring and suppose(s), while the secret sits in the middle and knows."† Families can go to great lengths to hide a drinking problem, a mental illness, infidelity, domestic violence, verbal abuse, a "problem child," or financial struggles.† Without a word being said, everyone learns the dance of denial, even though they all carry around the knowledge that something is not right.† This dance can last a long time, but it cannot last forever because the truth always breaks through in one form or another.† Commonly, the initial clue that a secret exists will be the breakdown (really a breakthrough) of one of the family members such as a teen grade's begin to plummet, a spouse develops severe depression, or a young child becomes paralyzed with fear.†

†††† Keeping destructive family secrets is actually not as accurate as description as the fact that in reality these family secrets can keep us.† They can keep us from being fully alive and fully connected to others.† On the other hand, when a secret is released to a spouse about one's abusive childhood, something never mentioned to another soul up until that point, the trust and intimacy in the marriage can now grow and expand.†† An adult child can reconcile with their parents and siblings when they get the courage to release the secret of their drug or alcohol use.†

††††† Every religion has rites for the confession of sins and secrets which provide a way for them to be released, and for healing to begin.† Jesus said, "whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed or secret is meant to be brought out into the open."† If you are burdened by a secret, maybe it is time to find someone you trust with whom you can release it.†† It could be a friend or family member, or a rabbi, priest or pastor, or perhaps a therapist.† Find someone to help you tell the truth, your truth, so that you can take that first step towards getting right with yourself, right with others and right with God.

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