Family histories that demand secrecy create a number of negative vibrations in the lives of children. In some cases the child knows the secret and in others there is a sense of things being hidden. Whether known or sensed, secrets such as father’s alcoholism, mother’s eating disorder, sister’s prescription drug-addiction, brother’s jail time, grandfather’s membership in an illegal group, one being conceived before mom and dad got married, mom and dad never getting married – all can create a conspiracy of silence among family members. And like any conspiracy, those involved are invariably diminished by the sense of shame that is associated with doing – or being associated with someone doing –something “wrong” or something “bad.”
Avoiding shame is often the underlying reason for the existence of secrets in the first place. Shame relates to feelings of inadequacy and self-contempt by an individual, a family or a group. To be ashamed is to assume rejection or derision, not because of what one has done but because of what one is or is not. Shame is less about morality and more about character, conformity and how you are seen and accepted by others.
One of the strongest negative vibrations of needing to be silent is the fear and consequences of the secret being revealed. Imagine being a child who knows the secret of your dad’s illegal dealings. Imagine the stress you’d feel that any hint of it could send him to jail. You go to school and when your teacher asks questions about your home life, you minimize the answers. When other kids start talking about what their father’s do, you stay silent. When you are asked to speak in class, fearing giving the secret away, you start to act as if you don’t know the answer, even when you do. As this process goes on you are increasingly seen as someone who is aloof, unsocial or just not too smart.
Another negative vibration of family secrets is a direct hit to your ability to be spontaneous. Needing to be on guard against possible verbal slips, wary of questions one is not sure how to answer and vigilant of “slips of the tongue,” there can be no letting down of one’s guard.
Another question to ask yourself is: “Have I ignored vibrations in my family that might be covering up unspoken secrets?” Look for unexplained gaps and subtle distortions in the way your family history is told; pay attention to questions family members seem to ignore or avoid answering. Begin to break the negative hold of family secrets of the past by sharing them with close friends. Exposing secrets lessens their power and takes them out of the realm of being “unspeakable.”