I‘ve never told anyone this:

I think I might be gay.
I have herpes.
My mother’s boyfriend groped me when I was a teenager.
I’ve never had an orgasm.
I cheated on my spouse.

We now understand that holding a secret may have long term consequences that affect our health and well-being far more than we ever imagined.

These secrets were once thought of as simply a necessary part of life. It was a way to protect oneself and one’s family, friends and community from the inevitable sense of shame and embarrassment. It was a way to avoid conflict and unpleasantness in our relationships. People felt that there was simply no other choice if they wanted to maintain the status quo and keep their marriages together and their families close.

Now we know that it isn’t that clear and simple.

Holding onto a secret, stuffing our feelings, burying an experience deep into our unconscious …sometimes for many years…is not as productive a choice as we would wish. There is almost always some cost to it. You may develop body symptoms like migraines, stomach problems, fatigue, aches and pains, skin rashes. You may become angry or irritated quickly; you may feel anxious, experience panic attacks or become depressed often without understanding why.

The millions of mini-events that we all encounter on a daily basis in our ordinary lives contain triggers that can set us off. And, much of the time, we are unaware of the connection to what is actually bothering us because we have done such a good job of cutting off from our feelings.

When I see a client experience awareness of something that has been kept filed away for a long time, I see an amazing shift in their demeanor. I see shoulders relax, I hear a sigh, I feel a wave of peacefulness filter through them. It is a very good thing.