Toxic Secrets:
The Swamp of Shame

Wow, we really do like to feel special! When I talk about feeling special most people assume that I'm  talking about people who think that they are the greatest, most powerful, most attractive humans in the world. This is not the case with most people. Most people that I've spoken to think that they are special in a different way.

They think that their pain is special. They believe that no one hurts like them, no one has to struggle with the same things as they do, and that no one can understand or even care about them.  We keep parts of ourselves hidden from others in order to preserve this idea. We don't let others see us when we don't want to see ourselves.

I was stuck in this trap for most of my life.

There's something sexy about holding a deep, dark secret. There's something mysterious about having a tortured past, withholding parts of ourselves and locking them away. The thing is, we lock our secrets away with shame. We believe that we are unlovable, and that if people saw the "real us" they would run away. Ouch. 

And, let's be honest, sometimes they do. But what if I told you that those people were running away from the shame, not from the secret itself? When we share a secret sometimes the shear force of emotion can push people away. It can be difficult to be with someone when they fall into their shame. The problem is, we take it so personally. We think that we are to blame and that any hope of connection and love is ruined.

The swamp of shame is a sticky, dark, and sometimes alluring place in the deep recesses of our mind. We wallow there when we feel overwhelmed by the world. We roll around in the muck when we think that we need to be punished. Sometimes, a simple word, image, or individual can send us plunging into the mud headfirst. It can happen so quickly. 

So many of us deeply fear being truly seen by others. It makes sense, those parts of ourselves have been starved and beaten for most of our lives. They are so fragile so when they finally get to see the light they hunger for it. They roar up out of our depths and threaten to consume us and the people around us. We fear that if that part were to get rejected, again, it might die. 

Shame is the belief that we are fundamentally flawed, broken beyond repair. It's that hopeless feeling that creeps into our minds late at night. Shame keeps us small and prevents us from taking risks and realizing our dreams. It steps on our hand as we try to climb towards the light. 

So how do we work with shame? Humility. Humility means accepting the fact that you are just one of six billion humans on this earth. Humility is the sombering realization that when you tell other people your secrets that can't truly know what you're talking about. To others, your deep shame is just information. They can't know what it is like to be you. They can only listen.

Although it sounds bleak, this is good news!! In fact, the more you tell others your secrets the more they turn into information to you too. They lose their weight and their emotional charge, they become simply the facts of your life and your past. And it is here where the freedom lies. Letting go of secrets means letting go of feeling special, it means letting go of the barriers that you erect around your heart, it means coming to terms with your morality. 

Really, truly ask yourself, what are your secrets protecting you from?