Family secrets and lies that are kept over many generations can have devastating effects on family descendants. It can dramatically affect how they view themselves as a person as well as their ability to interact in an effective way with family, friends and in their personal relationships.
When a family member decides to keep a secret, for whatever reason, be it abuse, incest, mental illness or any other issue that has scarred them in some way, they do not realize the effects it can have on themselves and the identities of future generations.
Secrets have ways of developing into something way beyond the original problem. The time of life when an individual decides to keep secret a tragic event can have a direct impact on their future personally and on their descendants.
If they were children or teenagers when the event is told to them, or having the event personally happen, they have a direct influence on their personal growth and emotional development. At this time in their lives, they are developing their trust in family members, who will be their support system through their lives. Also at this time they may struggle with the ability to develop loving and lasting relationships or even friendships.
If the child is very young, the impact of the trauma / secrets / lies can alter how the child’;s brain develops. Older children, such as teenagers, may struggle with their own being. They can lose trust in the relationships, begin to doubt them and who they are and fall into the unknown of depression and anxiety.
From a personal standpoint, I can definitely relate to the effects secrets and lies can have on an individual.
When I was a very young girl I was told of some very dark family secrets which began in 1911. I am now in my middle 50′;s and have discovered the secret I lived with was in fact a lie. Now I am trying to understandably understand family dynamics, historical events and struggling daily trying to cope with my history and how it has affected my life.
Due to the fact that my first trauma began at a very young age, I have recently discovered the reasons why I have difficulties relating to young children. My age when the trauma occurred has had a direct influence on how my brain developed. My "little self-child" does not know how to cope with stressful situations and confrontations. This little small child lives with fear, rejection and torment every day.
I know how I have struggled with these lies and secrets. I believe telling a young child about secrets and lies referring to their family especially if there are traumatic events involved that cause the child great harm.
Secrets and lies can haunt a person through their own life. I do not know if there is a right age or time to refer the information to family members. However, I do believe it is very important that people understand who and where they came from no matter sometimes how very difficult the information can be to accept.
Once the secret / lie is told, from that point on the individual has the choice to either be swallowed up by the history or to acknowledge the past and make a conscious effort to accept what they can not change and change what they do have control over. Of course this ability depends on the age of the person.
In learning about my history, most of my life was living with the shame of the secret and hiding the physical and emotional abuse. I have always believed that I was the "crazy" one because that is what I was told.
I now believe my life has come to a point where I can no longer run from the lies and secrets or the pain and confusion. I must face these problems head-on.
I know this will be a massive challenge for me. Some of the issues I deal with include:
– Depression and anxiety
– Fear of not being loved or cared for
– Never trusting another human being – not even a spouse
– Inability to have close friendships
– Living in the "Fight or Flight" syndrome
– Physical afflictions caused by abuse
– Feeling of inadequacy
– Always trying to be a perfectionist
– Fear that other people see me as weak
– Severe image issues
– Anger problems
On the positive side:
– Fierce Loyalty
– Protection of my loved ones
– Kind heart but very sensitive
– Passion for helping others
– Compassion and understanding
– Keen sense for reading other people and their pain
– The ability to adapt and learn
– An unbelievable drive to understand
– A desire to change and want better
If you see yourself with any of these characteristics, know that you are not alone. There are many people in this odd world today that are suffering in silence, the same way you are.
One of the greatest fears I have is passing on the same problems to my children and grandchildren.
When I was a young mother I did not understand the full impact of what I was going to face later in life; no one does. I had no idea that my great-grandparent’;s secrets would haunt me so great. I decided long ago I would be honest with my children, rather than keeping the secrets and lies quiet. Today I still am not certain it was the right thing to do, but they know the secret; they now know the secret was a lie and we all have breathed a huge sigh of relief. However the price that I have paid has been great. Because I lack trust, and have rarely been able to feel completely at ease with people, and due to the fact my developing years as a child were unhealthy and impacted at a critical stage of development, I was not able to be the type of mother or grandmother that can sit and play with young children. Honestly, I do not know how to play because I missed that part of development.
We do not realize how secrets and lies can manifest themselves into something that can be transported down through many generations.
Honesty is good, but we need to make sure the timing is right when we reveal the secrets / lies. Ensure that the individual is mature enough mentally and emotionally to cope with the information and have a back-up plan ready in case the information is too much for the person to be able to process and cope with.
Every person is different. We all process information differently. Choose your timing, read your intended audience (the person you are relating the information to), and be ready and willing to go the distance should the information be too much to handle.
I believe talking through difficult times is the best way to cope. Be honest, answer questions and never judge the reactions that telling your secrets / lies may create.
On the other hand, if you chose to keep the secrets / lies buried; just know that these things have a way of surfacing without our knowledge or consent. Someone somewhere is bound to know a bit of the actual information. If they chose to disclose some part of the secret / lie then they have control over you. Once the information has gone through a few people there is a chance that the secret / lie has been magnified. Remember sitting around a circle and one person whispers a small story to the person beside them. Once the story gets back to the beginning the information does not always represent the original story.
Secrets and lies can suffer the same fate over many generations. Personally I do not feel hiding information from our descendants can have a positive exit. Someone will always have questions. If those questions remain unanswered then there is a strong probability that someone will start digging into the past and indeed the truth will be disclosed. In our society today, people are able to find information we thought once hidden permanently. There are always ways.
It is a horrible thing when you discover the truth about the secrets / lies that have been deserted from your ancestors and there is no one left alive to ask questions, to tell the truth or crush the falsehoods. That only causes more concern and questions.
If you have a secret that you feel is too traumatic to reveal to your family, spouse, children or parents keep in mind that multi-generational lies if kept hidden will always be uncovered. You now have a chance to set the record straight. You are the only one that knows the truth from lies. If you decide to bury the lie please understand how this can drastically affect your life, your mental health your future and that of future generations.
Take a proactive stance and decide for yourself whether it really is the best idea for your descendants to keep lies hidden for many generations. You can help heal yourself and change the future for your family.
It is time to take a proactive stand on inter-generational lies. Take a magnifying glass to look deep inside and definitely decide whether or not these secrets have a place in creating health and wholeness for those whom they may absolutely affect. The decision to withhold truth may possibly hurt those which it meant to protect. The decision to hide pain ultimately creates more pain and confusion and the more generations that is affected the worse it is to recover from. Making a stand to face these long ago decisions may actually change the course of destiny and help heal deeply entrenched wounds. Take a deep breath and face your future fearlessly and free.
It’;s worth it and so are you!