"That may be your secret, but that doesn't make it true."
I've seen the musical Wicked twice, and I'm convinced I could go every weekend and not get sick of it! I absolutely love it, and think it shares so many great truths about human nature and mental health. The above quote was stated by Glinda (the "good"witch) to Elphaba (the "wicked witch of the west"-not wicked by the way!).
The idea of telling our secrets, being truly authentic and real with people close to us, is an interesting concept. I love this quote by Frederick Buechner. “…they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition-that what we hunger for perhaps more then anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are-even if we tell it only to ourselves-because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly are and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable then the real thing” (from his book Telling Secrets, p. 2-3).
When we keep our secrets to ourself, we run the risk of believing things about ourself that just aren't true, leading to depression, anxiety, or stress. We certainly can't live a flourishing and honest life if we believe things that aren't true, or if we only see an edited version of ourselves.
I talk to others all the time, and I definitely share some things about my life. However, I have a list of things which I have shared with no one. I hold these things tightly, not wanting anyone to know the real me. By opening myself up to that level, I open myself up to being hurt, to disappointment, to betrayal. The thought of telling someone these things absolutely terrifies me. At the same time, clutching these secrets so tightly can be exhausting and overwhelming. There are times when I desperately want to be seen for who I truly am, to be able to relinquish the tight reigns I hold on my life and present myself as exactly who I am. These two opposites fight constantly within me, although usually, to be on the safe side, I allow my secrets to stay locked deep within me.
But I know this isn't healthy. And I certainly don't go around "word vomiting" on those around me, because that can be overwhelming to them, and it certainly isn't appropriate sharing. But I found people I can trust, and so I share my secrets. It's in sharing these secrets that I've seen deep love and acceptance, encouragement, and the fact that I'm not so different from everyone else around me. When we share our secrets, we find that humans are generally the same, experience the same things, and struggle with the same emotions. We realize how we've distorted things in our life, and punish ourselves for secrets that aren't even true. It's through sharing our secrets that we find truth and health.
So here's my challenge to you: Find a safe person and share some secrets. Be honest with yourself, determining if those secrets are true or not. How have you edited yourself?