Secrets. Secrets have been dangerous things in my life and at the same time I have been an incredibly safe confidence keeper. If someone says don't say a word not even the threat of torture was going to pry that from my soul, and that is all good and well with my close friends and clients, but there were secrets that kept me really sick. Secrets that ate at my soul. Secrets that should have never been secrets at all because for some misguided reason events and feelings got labeled as shameful and the best way seemed to be able to hide them and stuff them in some dark corner. Here is the deal, we only have so many dark corners to hide things in. God knows, mine got filled up and soon I ran out of room for my own thoughts, feelings, and yes, food. Anorexia loves secrets, addictions do, that is how they thrive and survive. Shame and secrecy: it seems so straightforward to just break the silence, but that stonewall is set in place like a firm defense against the world, and there is this loud voice screaming at you that if anyone really knew the truth they would seethe real you the one you desperately try to hide from the world because it will never measure up to some standard, it is vulnerable and weak. This is a cruel voice exalting you as a monster. So the secrecy works and so does the shame. Quite effectively. The irony is the monster in question is the disease, not you, but the disease needs this distorted belief to continue and so it will employ whatever tools it can and secrecy and shame work to its advantage. Nobody will challenge it if nobody knows.
I speak from experience on this one, and I have been both the one with that voice raging in my ears and on the opposite side of that wall, neither position is enviable. Hearing that voice was constantly feeling like an imposter, always having to do things to prove it wrong on some level, yet constantly sabotaging myself somehow. It was painful and exhausting, and being on the other end was no picnic either it was constantly being pulled in to be pushed away by someone's self-loathing. I have often heard the words "loving someone at their most unlovable", well this is it, this is where you find it. I had to learn to find me in that monster and still love me and that is when you learn what loving the person but hating their disease means. However, let me be clear I had to learn love is not tolerating abusive behavior, it is not co-signing poor treatment, hurtful behavior, dishonesty, cruelty, manipulation, the silent treatment, I could go on and on there are as many of these behaviors as there are addicts, but I think you are catching my drift- basically it is not being okay with anything and everything someone throws at you. Absolutely not! I am NOT saying this is easy, it is incredibly difficult to stand your ground, it is very hard when someone is silent and would prefer for you to play along, someone will enable you to enable them all day long but ask yourself "how does this make me feel?" For me the answer was ick. It wasn't me. I have cried so many tears for people I love with all my heart who choose secrecy and shame, I knew if I stayed and enabled the pattern would continue but at what cost to them?To me? Who is it helping? Is that really love? Or is that fear?
Let me paint you a picture. Let's say you have a great doctor, friendly, warm, very knowledgeable and you trust them completely. One day you aren't feeling so well, a little run down, notice that you have been tired for weeks, and no matter what you do, you can't shake it. So, you make an appointment and you ask your doctor for their opinion and during the course of the appointment they decide to run some tests. You go back in a week for your results and you are still feeing pretty bad, and nervous because have consulted Dr. Google and have now become convinced you only have six months to a year to live. So seeing your condition your doctor decides not to tell you all of your results, as they don't want to further alarm you and let you know that indeed your blood count is off and there is something going on. Instead they tell you to rest and come back in couple weeks, everything is fine. You leave that appointment feeling relief from your anxiety but you are still sick, and your doctor just cheated you out of a chance of getting treatment. Somewhere deep down you knew you were sick to begin with or you wouldn't have gone, and now Dr. Google may not be so far off.
So, we know that a doctor would get sued if they kept this information from you and we would be furious, but we keep secrets from people all the time, hold back information "out of love", thinking they cannot handle it, or it may cause irrevocable harm. Keeping unhealthy secrets is enabling unhealthy things to continue, you then become part of a problem that you are trying to prevent.
I have done it myself. I have also been the one to break the silence and I am not going to lie and say it feels good. It is hard to stop enabling, it is scary because it was doing something for me too, it meant preventing loss, it meant controlling pain. Enabling is not about the person being enabled it is about the enabler, it is an attempt to control someone else and that never works. Enabling means you enable yourself to stay stuck. Keeping sick secrets is a way to stay sick.
I am writing to you from "the real" I call it, and I know the conflict. I am a deep empath and this is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I love deeply myself so nothing that I say here do I say without deep compassion, respect, and dignity. It is easy to be honest when you tell someone what they want to hear, it is quite different when it is something they need to know. Giving up this illusion we of control, believing that something that feels so painful is the most loving is an exercise in faith. I am not going to say "be strong", I would want to hit me for that one, I am going to say treat yourself gently, stay here, be here, there is deep love in what you have done.