I remember one time I hid a huge secret from someone for months. I was in boarding school and I had stolen and lost one piece of my mother’s really expensive earrings. I hated being the girl with no earrings due to the fact that I reacted to most jewelry I wore so I decided to be badass about it.
I felt on top of the world wearing gold studded hoops at such a young age until I lost one piece and my mother just had to call that day to ask if I had seen it. Naturally, I denied it, because my mother is the kind of person that will drive all the way to my boarding school with a police squad and arrest me for theft – handcuffs and all.
I may have avoided an imminent threat but I ignored all the signs my body was giving me to confess. I had the worst acne breakout in years, my finger nails were a mess and I had difficulty concentrating in school. I didn’t realize all these were linked to my guilt until I confessed to my mother during the school break and all my physiological symptoms went away. My mother even bought me a new, less expensive, pair; she didn’t know that I had nickel allergy just like her and I was there suffering in silence.
It is proven that there is a physiological detriments of guilt. It is one of those tricky emotions that’s hard to pinpoint but ultimately, the larger the information we suppress, the more our cortisol (stress hormones) sky rocket and our immune system weakens. We find ourselves suffering health and mental problems as a result; whether we realize it or not.
If there are such great costs of guilt, why then do people hide their sins and live in fear for years?
We find couples who are about to or already committed to each other hiding fundamentally critical details about themselves with the hope that it will just blow with the wind. The hope is to take the secret to the grave and pray that it never surfaces. And even if it does, it would be too late to produce any real damage.
It is understandable to withhold trivial information from your partner to enable you win his/her affection or reduce the chances of him/her feeling betrayed by us. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. However, life altering decisions are a different ball game. It is monumentally worse, when your secrets are exposed and it didn’t come from you.
Most of us feel that our partners won’t be able handle our complete honesty. Some of us have racked up enough shameful deeds that owning up may prevent us from holding on to the people who mean the most to us. So we defend our dishonesty on the grounds of nobility; protecting our loved ones from our past or lies.
Aside from the physiological symptoms, guilt comes with a truck load of fear.
How long can you hide the fact that you don’t work in NNPC from your partner? Or that there is someone else in your life? A certain kind of chill washes over you every time the conversation comes up. You become snappy and overly sensitive to anything that can lead to that topic. Lies replace lies and constant changes have to be made to cover the guilt. Oh and Karma just hangs in the corner waiting to rear it vengeful head. It’s not called a bitch for nothing.
Everything I have expressed is not new information so I guess my real question is this: To what extent are we willing take our secrets and guilt to?
If the tables were turned, would your answers still hold?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Atholpady