When we abuse an addictive substance or behavior, it is often to try and escape some form of pain we have buried within us. For many of us, this pain lies in the secrets we’re keeping. Maybe we’ve been holding onto secrets for so long that we forget they’re there. However, they usually reemerge in painful ways in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, intense anxiety, panic, or deep feelings of guilt and shame. We carry secrets from the traumatic experiences we lived through as children. We keep the things we’ve done wrong and mistakes we’ve made a secret from our loved ones, fearing they’ll disown and reject us if they were to find out. We keep our addictive patterns a secret, especially from anyone who might try and dissuade us from them and convince us to get help.
Eventually, the pain of our secrets can become too burdensome to keep to ourselves. It can feel like a truly unbearable weight. We feel as though we’re going to crack prom the immense amount of pressure. We become increasingly depressed, anxious, panicked, and ashamed. We hate ourselves for the things we’ve done. We feel shame and self-hatred for the harmful things that were done to us, many of which we had absolutely no control over. We take on the responsibility and shoulder the burden while keeping all of it a secret. The act of holding onto painful secrets chips away at our mental and emotional health and weakens us from the inside out. It depletes our inner strength, our faith, and our self-love. Our secrets sometimes end up ultimately being insignificant but for so long they hold so much power over us.
We’re afraid to confess our secrets lest we are judged, rejected, demonized, and hated. When we do feel the need to finally disclose our secrets, we can find solace in our recovery community. Our therapists, sponsors, recovery coaches, and support group communities can all be sources of support and unconditional acceptance. They too know what it’s like to harbor painful secrets. As recovering addicts, we know what it’s like to feel as though we’re being buried alive under our secrets, as though we’re drowning in the pain of them. Talking about our most painful secrets can be liberating. Hearing other people’s similar stories can show us firsthand that we’re not alone in our experiences. We start to see that maybe we’re not so shameful, so abhorrent and so unworthy after all. We feel less like outcasts and more like loved, accepted members of a supportive community.
We can’t let the pain of our secrets keep us locked in cycles of suffering and self-destruction. We have to unburden ourselves so that we can experience true recovery.
If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery, and we’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.