Written By:Amber Hollingsworth,LPC
In recovery we say “Secrets Keep You Sick”. This is so very true. When you’re living in active addiction, your whole life is spent keeping secrets. You have to keep track of what you’ve said and to whom. You have to keep certain people away from other people, because everybody has certain pieces of the truth but you don’t want them to put those pieces together (because then they might figure out what’s really going on!). You become so use to living like this that pretty soon, you develop an “automatic lie response”.
Here’s an example:
If someone asked you “Where did you eat lunch today”, you might say “Subway” when really you ate at Firehouse. Before you know it, you have lied about something that doesn’t even matter. You’re just so use to keeping secrets that you automatically lie. You may not realize it but when you’re keeping secrets, you start to distance yourself from everyone.
It’s as if unconsciously you are scared to let people close to you… because they might find out your secret. Eventually, this turns into a very lonely existence. You end up walking around feeling isolated, shameful, fearful, and anxious all the time!
If you’ve worked the steps, then you know just how freeing it can be to clean all those secrets out. It’s a giant weight that gets lifted off of you. THIS IS A NEW FREEDOM, AND IT FEELS GOOD!
After you’ve experienced that, you don’t want to go back to the secret keeping (because it’ll bring back that same old toxic feeling inside).
I encourage my clients to engage in “compulsive confession”. This is a term I came up with that means, get those toxic secrets out AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I’m talking about even dumb little things that other people don’t even care about. If you feel like your hiding something and you have that little twinge of guild…. then tell it.
Many of my clients come into session, and before I’ve even closed the door, the “confessions” start flying! It’s pretty funny actually. It makes me laugh every time. Then we laugh together and everything feels much better.
It’s way easier to do this one little confession at a time, instead of building up a whole huge mess and then having to dig out of it.
Here is the metaphor that I use to explain it: “It’s like learning to rinse your dishes and put them into the dish washer as you use them, instead of piling up a whole sink full of nasty, crusty dishes”. Because, when you get that much messes built up, it starts to feel overwhelming, and we start to avoid dealing with it (AND YOU KNOW WHERE THAT LEADS!).
Ultimately, it teaches you to get it out quickly, move past it, and whatever you do DON’T KEEP THAT POISON INSIDE! I’m not Catholic but I think they are really on to something with the confession thing.
If you start to build up those secrets again, you’ll start distancing yourself from people, and the shame and guilt will start creeping back in. Eventually it all builds up, and starts to trigger cravings and possible a relapse. It’s because that feeling state is so connected to your active using days. You might not even connect the two things together, but just remember SECRETS KEEP YOU SICK.