Did you have to hold a secret for an adult in your family or keep a secret from the rest of your family? Keeping secrets in families, especially across generations, can harm the family and the secret holder.
Take the example above. Here, the mother and child who know about the affair form a family subgroup. Others in the family may feel that something has changed in the daughter, but she cannot share openly for fear of betraying her mother and hurting her father.
The one who holds the secret can become symptomatic. They can express the stress of the situation through challenging behaviour, anxiety or physical symptoms.
The holder of the secret can also feel left out of the family fun, no longer able to play freely with their siblings. They feel somehow different and become older before their time.
If this is you, know that you can heal from this. It is best done with a trained therapist who understands the complexities of this family dynamic.
If you have inadvertently done this with a child, it is a good idea to help lift the burden from that child and seek some family counselling to ensure it is done in the most appropriate way for everyone.
Healing from family secrets IS REAL…it can take time. Good luck on your healing journey.
Reference: Epstein, S (2019). 3 Types of family secrets and how they drive families apart. Psychology Today.