I read this phrase on Instagram and I loved it: “Everyone has a chapter they don’t read out loud. It conveys so much in one simple sentence. We’ve all done things that make us feel anything from guilty to ashamed. These are things we usually want to keep secret. Here are 2 main reasons as to why:
- We’re afraid of other people’s judgement if the ‘chapter’ is let out.
- We’re afraid of the feelings towards ourselves brought about by letting the chapter come to light.
It’s often not just others that we’re afraid of but what the opinions of others will make us feel about ourselves. We’re protecting ourselves from both external and internal judgement. This kind of fortune telling only serves to thicken the shield we’ve put around ourselves.
Omission for Self-Defence
I’m not writing this to suggest that we wear our hearts on our sleeve; that has its own problems and some things are private by nature; keeping them to ourselves is perfectly fine and healthy.
I suppose then that it comes down to our intention for hiding something. The reason can be healthy or unhealthy. In the healthy case, perhaps it would be better to call it ‘deciding not to share’, rather than hiding. Here’s a guide to help us discover the root of our desire:
- I would share if it was pertinent.
- This involves someone close to me, it’s not mine to share.
- It’s deeply personal and though I could share it, I’d prefer it stay with me.
- Keeping this to myself holds positive power that I don’t want to dissipate.
- I’m ashamed. people will judge or make fun of me. People will look at me differently.
- I’ll be treated ‘abnormally’!
- I’m different in a bad way and others can’t know how much better they are than me.
- What I did makes me a bad person. If I don’t talk about it I can forget about it like it didn’t happen.
If you’re guarded, did you pick out anything that rings true? Which side are you leaning? Silence for the sake of personal sanctity, or silence out of fear? I think fear makes up a large portion of the ‘unhealthy’ side. In other words privacy for the sake of privacy is perfectly fine while privacy for the sake of fear, isn’t.
I’ll take two very personal examples to illustrate my point since this blog is just as much a friendly reminder for me as it is hopefully beneficial for you.
Scars of Shame
My scars are something I hide out of fear that people will judge me for them. I’m afraid they’ll stereotype me as an angsty, attention- seeking teenager. (Or that I was one, since I’m 23 now.) They’re also unattractive obviously, and no one likes to feel ugly. I’m worried about looks of disgust but also pity. I don’t want to be pitied. Beyond that, exposing my and scars also means that I see them, which is something I don’t like to do. Out of sight, out of mind- for a little while at least. If they’re visible I worry about them being seen. If I’m worried about them being seen… I’m thinking about them. On a certain level, I’m more conscious of the old me I’ve been trying to push away.
Wow – I’m disovering things about myself as I write this. (That’s something else I love about blogging, it can be a learning process for everyone. Life is a learning process, really.) I think that’s part of this subject today. As we grow and become new versions of ourselves, it shouldn’t involve rejecting our former selves. (Which is probably what I’ve been doing!) Trying so hard to get away from the past and never fall back. Forgetting that the new me could have never arisen without the old me. The through-line is me and I’m a composite. We’re ALL composites.
How does this pertain to healthy and unhealthy secrecy? Fearing judgment and self-judgement? Well, maybe we don’t have to cover up who we used to be. We can learn to own our sh*t and that sounds fantastic. This is definitely one of my goals. If everyone has made mistakes and isn’t proud, why bother pretending to have no icky chapters in our story? Maybe admitting to our own will help someone else realize they’re not a terrible person and can let go of it too.
Here’s my next example and maybe the intended focus of this blog. It’s raw, it’s difficult to take; insert major trigger warning. I’m talking about suicide. I should write a book called ‘how to Survive Surviving’ I’m surely not alone in feeling alien: the unique ‘no person’s land’ that’s experienced by those who have survived an attempt. I don’t know if others would agree with my description, but that’s what it feels like to me. It’s something you can’t seem to turn back from. It changes you. For me anyway, there’s something that switched and it makes me feel seperate from the world.
A suicide attempt is a big example of those chapters we don’t read aloud. It’s natural that very few people want to talk about.it, but as we know, talking can save lives and silence can be deadly. Survivors are the perfect people to help open a dialogue because we’ve been there. We’ve made the decision that others around the world are struggling with. Once again, we’re not going to shout our experience from the rooftops. However I don’t think we should live in fear, shame and regret. Do I take my own advice? Not really, I’m trying but it’s a struggle. It’s a lot easier for me to open up in my blogs with you than outside and most importantly, within myself. I hate myself for what I’ve done.
Scars, Suicide & Secrecy
The objective of this post is to promote self-ownership. This includes EVERY chapter of our stories. Even if we’re not going to share every painful detail the key is to, in theory, be willing to share. Be willing to handle the fragile contents of the drawers we normally lock up and throw away the key.
We don’t have to like those parts of our history to accept them and see them for what they are; formative events that helped shape us into who we are today.
Some Helpful Reminders:
- Not everyone will like us and that’s their prerogative. It goes both ways.
- Being comfortable with ourselves is necessary for self-mastery. We can’t achieve this by rejecting full parts of ourselves.
- We can begin by trying to view ourselves externally. By this I mean being an objective onlooker who observes rather than implicates through self- criticism. This is an important tool when dealing with any difficult emotion. Distance can lessen the pain and provide clarity. Through this clarity we discover that we’re human and therefore fallible. We’re certainly not alone in having regrets, making mistakes and wanting to erase things. I sometimes wish life had an undo button but it doesn’t and I have to come to terms with the past.
A Message to Survivors and those who self-Harm/ed
Here’s what I’m trying to realize and remember; I hope it can help you move on too. You’re not weak because of what you’ve done. You’re not a bad person and you’re not selfish. You were in a lot of pain and pain can cloud our judgement. Self-harm probably made sense at the time and offered you relief you weren’t finding elsewhere. If you attempted suicide, chances are you were so tired and overwhelmed with your feelings that it too was the logical solution.
This doesn’t make self-harm or suicide the right decision, but it does make it understandable. We become desperate for a quick method for relief. Again, not your fault. I find this to be a great comparison: If you’ve ever had the kind of tooth pain that makes you want to reach for pliers and handle it yourself, you’ll understand a bit of the desperation involved in self-harm and contemplating suicide.
Allow yourself to feel without judgment. Allow yourself forgiveness as you would someone you love. Allow yourself to examine the chapters of your story as a whole rather than letting a few bad chapters ruin the book. Your story is still worth reading, and is definitely worth continuing!
This blog was a fairly sensitive one so let’s end things on a happy note. I have news that I’m very excited to share. I haven’t given up on Mia being my ESA (Emotional Support Animal)/ PSD (Psychiatric Service Dog).
Though things didn’t work out with Companion Paws, I decided to continue my research. If I’m going to get Mia spayed, I was going to find the perfect certification program for US. Through a client at work who is in the process of training, I learned of a different company. I don’t want to put down the first one, but CASE (Chiens d ‘Assistance et Support Émotionnelle) is better suited for our needs. I filled out the 34 page application in full detail and sent it. Mia now has a file and an ESA number so it’s pretty much official… we’re waiting for her ID card in the mail. This means that Mia need to be spayed and micro chipped so I made vet appointments to get everything done. The next steps are the actual training now. I’m very serious about it – we’re going to work hard and we WILL succeed!
We’ve actually begun already because I want us to be really good. Mia is ok with ‘sit’, ‘come’ and ‘wait’ but we never worked on ‘heel’ and walking side by side. That’s the first thing I want to do. Actually what’s probably most important is socialization. She needs to be good with other dogs and that’s her major problem. Lots of barking! Mia is getting better though, on my lunch break after we go outside we’ve been spending time with clients who’ve brought their dog. That way she’ll get desensitized and I do see improvements which makes me super happy.
Have a lovely week everyone! Take good care of yourselves!