Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
This is a sort of counselling “blog” to give you a flavour of how I work. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links on the right of this page
I was talking to one of my clients this week about secrets, and in particular how powerful secrets can be.
Secrets can render you speechless – in fact, after writing the first paragraph of this blog, I had no idea what to write next, and sat for several minutes staring at my screen – so maybe even the subject of secrets can render me speechless, unable to think what to write!
When I think of secrets that I hold they feel huge, quite unlike other memories that I can replay. When I think of “normal” memories they seem to play out in my mind on a sort of TV screen, so that I am observing them from a distance. When I think of secrets I hold, they seem to engulf me, to disable me. Time seems to stop and I am held, motionless, by the secret, until something jerks me back into the present day.
In relationships, secrets can be very damaging. They can lead to a tension that exhibits itself in various ways – anger, tears, silence for example. I think that the effort of holding that secret, of keeping it from your partner is enormous; it’s like leading a double life. Maintaining the barriers around the secret is hard work, and some clients have described it to me as being a form of mental torture.
Often couples hold secrets about their past; things that they intend never to reveal to anyone, things that their children are not allowed to know. These secrets can lead to a very powerful feeling of intimacy between the couple. It can be very flattering to feel that someone has told you something that they have never told anyone else. They must think you’re a special person to entrust you with this secret, mustn’t they? And the feeling of holding that secret can make you feel strong, important, dependable.
When you buy a new car it’s bright and shiny, and you can zap about it in and feel great. As it ages, it needs maintenance and it needs cleaning. It stops feeling special, and starts feeling normal, part of a routine. Beyond a certain point it becomes an expensive liability and we need to sell it and buy another new car.
Holding secrets for your partner, while it increases the feeling of intimacy, can have a negative impact, especially when the secrets feel too big, too important. Just like a car, over time the secret can start to feel like a burden, rather than a gift. Unlike a car, you can’t just sell it and get a new one. You need to lose the burden, to stop carrying the secret around with you all the time, but you can’t pass it on without breaking the confidence that your partner’s put in you.
Holding secrets in this way – or having your partner hold them held for you – can freeze the emotions associated with them, so that they can continue to make you angry, or sad, or frightened, years after they happened. You may find that, without you necessarily understanding why, small things trigger big feelings, so that you may find yourself suddenly angry on watching a TV programme, or that a tune on the radio makes you tearful.
Telling a counsellor your secrets can be an important step – but they will remain secrets until you allow them to be things you talk about more generally, things you can say to friends and family – when you can do that, it will release them from being secrets to being just harmless, normal memories.