August 08, 2006
Share a Secret, Stop the Silence, Silence the Shame
Are you familiar with the blog, PostSecret? It's a very popular blogspot blog and an amazing "community art project." What happens is people send in postcards and tell their secrets anonymously. The secrets shared are riveting and often disturbing. There are many hints and references to sexual violence and child abuse on those cards. I urge you to visit but warn that it may be highly triggering. The blog even includes a suicide hotline number and a link to www.hopeline.com.
Okay, now, are you also familiar with the website 43 Things? It's sort of an online community of list-makers sharing their to-do lists. As one of my 43 things, I've got listed, "send a postcard to PostSecret." I haven't done it yet.
I was thinking of this the other night and secrets just started pouring out of me in a similar process to how I get poems sometimes.
I noticed that many of them were too long to fit on a postcard. I decided I'd like to share them here. This is a risky and frightening thing for me to contemplate. But, I want to do it. I am absolutely convinced that abuse perpetuates in our silence and shame--in the secrets that we as a society too often keep (sometimes to our graves).
What would happen if we all decided to share our secrets, stop the silence and silence the shame? I think we'd be well on our way to breaking the cycle of abuse. That's where I'm convinced we'd be.
Would anyone like to join me? What would you think of having an online place to share secrets? It would be similar to PostSecret, but the secrets wouldn't have to be short enough to fit on a card. The other big difference is that we would be breaking our silence and stepping out of our anonymity as I am about to do here. What do you think? Would you do it?
Even if nobody says, "yes," I'm going to share here. Because I'm scared out of my wits, I think it's easiest for me to simply lift the words right out of my paper journal where I wrote them in the early morning hours.
Here's what I wrote:
Oh my God. I'm so afraid of what I'm going to write here. Therefore, I feel absolutely compelled to do it. I must write it. This secret is about the abandonment I felt after my parents divorced and my sexual abuse ended. All my memories of sexual abuse are retrieved memories that were previously repressed. I don't know how I know this. I just do.
My father sexually abused me
And my twin sister
For almost eight years.
Instead of feeling relieved
When the abuse ended,
I felt abandoned,
I had realized
My greatest fear:
I truly was
But, I was not replaced
By my twin sister.
I was tossed aside
Thrown on the garbage heap
In favor of three strangers
Some other woman's daughters
My new stepsisters.
I wished my father
Had gone ahead
And killed me after all.
I don't know which part of this secret is more excruciating. I just want to wail in agony.
Copyright 2006 by Marj McCabe. All Rights Reserved.
Believe it or not, I found that writing this secret down was quite cleansing and comforting for me. I felt better after I "told" my secret. It was a secret I had never before even told myself before this journal entry deep into the night.
I am interested.
Mysti: I'm glad you're interested and that you also have found secret sharing a cleansing, positive thing. I'll keep you posted about this.
Thanks for your courage, Marj.
BTW, I like your idea of a place where people can share their secrets. Perhaps some kind of anonymous Internet bulletin board where people can just come and tell what happened to them. No one else needs to know who they are.
Of course, there might be the voyeurs visiting to get high on the abuse others experienced. But hopefully they wouldn't make the place less sacred for those who need it to be a place for release, like the Vietnam War Memorial wall has been for many.
Thank you for your courage to start the ball rolling. I will have to think about this... I am mortified about what anyone will think of me, but I also know how freeing it could be.
No wonder you said you needed some support. I can't imagine what that took to get out. I am glad it was a relief.
I think that a place to type secrets that can't fit on a postcard is a good idea. Definitely.
Yep I am here in the UK supporting you, Marg.
However, I don't think a blog set up solely for this would be a good idea. Is that what you were talking about at the beginnin of your post?
One of the reasons Post Secret works is because people have to make an effort in sending in the postcard. Comments on a blog are too easy to make. It would be very hard to police and you could end up with all sorts of strange and untrue comments.
I honor your courage, and your trust in your circle of friends. You are not alone, it wasn't your fault. Yes, I would be interested in something more, more than just blogging. A "safer" place to tell secrets, to shed the weight of guilt and shame.
Sometime in my childhood, I made a vow, that the abuse would stop with me. No more. A vow my father, and his father never made.
You are right in pointing to the fact that safety would be a top concern of mine with this potential project. I have lots to think about. Keep those ideas comin' people!
I think you have a great idea!! There are so many secrets that I have withheld from family, friends, even myself. A place where people can let out a secret, one at a time, whenever they are willing, would provide an incredibly supportive environment. Maybe there could be two secret posting spots. One for people who would prefer complete anonymity and one for those who prefer to have their name connected. Is that possible?
I thank you for your courage. Sharing your secret helps others address the shame they feel for similar secrets. Congrats on speaking out!!
I'm so so sorry.
Marj, I offer a spot on my Blogsplot.net server for your "secrets sharing" if you'd like. My son has told me that he could set up a forum there for us, and people could come in and post their secrets on the forum through anonymous accounts.
Let me know if that would be helpful, and we could work on details.
Moof: Thanks for your warm regards and offer of help. I so appreciate it. I'll have to think over the forum/message board option. I've been fairly active on a couple of boards and I know how much work there is to those, moderating and such. Lots of stuff to chew on here.
I could totally understand the feelings in this posting. Only one that has been there ever could.
I was relieved when the abuse subsided ( never truly stopped) until he died.
Anyways , it subsided when he went and had an affair on his spouse.
A secrets blog sounds both cleansing and empowering.
I am sorry that you had to live with this, the abuse and the guilt.
thanks for the link.
i am SO proud of you, though, for facing your fear and confronting the truth, as difficult and painful as it is. when i go back and read over my previous posts, i freak out that all of this fucked up shit is really my life, but i always feel a little lighter after releasing it all. anyhow, im going to try to finish this post tonight... crazy we're on the same page again :)
so glad ive connected w/you on blog thing... i think we can really make some big things happen to help survivors :)
hope: I agree with your take and I'm glad you like the secret-sharing blog idea. You're most welcome for the link--I love your blog!
ML: Always glad to hear from you. I'm gonna mosey on over to your blog now and see what our like minds have been mind-melding on this time!
It took me many years to tell about my fathers abuse.
I started my blog precisely to tell about it, and eventually did on my third post. yet I have been unsatisfied with the postsince I wrote, though I left it there anyway. Reading your post has made me realise why.
I have told about what happend, and how it was hard, and confusing. But I haven't talked about how I felt and feel about it.
For years I hide tha abuse, that was my secret. Sice I've told about the abuse my secret has been how I really think about it, and how I really see myself as a consecuence of that.
Thank you for sharing your secret, you have opened my eyes.
I will try to write a post about this at some point, but know I am going to tell here. It is all a bit sudden as I am in the middel of an internal storm. Reading your post has been very triggering (I knew it would be).
I felt, and maybe even know still feel, like I desrved it. When I was a teneager, even though I had suppressed all mameories of the things that had happened when I was a kid, I had a deep sense of my father not being "good". But I haven't talked to him for many years and he hadn't shown sny interest on taking to me either, so I welcome his attention, and I put up with the price.
For many years my relationships with men, boyfriends, was for me a subtle exchage of sex for attention and care, you could even say love, but I didn't feel loved.
I felt more like a prostitute, the difference is that the currency wasn't money.
Comments here or in my blog are more than welcome. And you don't have to nice, just honest.
Thanks marj, I admire your courage.
brewerburns: You are a very compassionate blogger. I always appreciate your support of kind words. Thanks!
I admire your courage!
Sharing secrets is hard, mainly because our abusers always told us NOT to tell, and in many instances even threatened us by telling us what horrible consequences would be the result of blabbing.
Since starting my blog I have felt stronger than I have since . . . well, I suppose since the abuse shattered my childhood. In a sense, I am constantly sharing secrets, things I normally wouldn't talk about with anyone.
I so admire your courage. I liked what you wrote, and can well imagine what it cost you both to write it, and share it.
I would definitely contribute to this whole idea of sharing secrets if you decide to go ahead with it.
However, I opened up to someone (counselor) just yesterday (Before I even read this post) and shared a secret, and to be honest, it made me feel worse. I feel horrible right now for even saying it, thinking it, and believing that it is even possible.
I was an emotional wreck yesterday, wrote in my journal, had two beers, and almost had a melt down with a friend and school principal.
I will see what brings today, but I still feel ashamed and horrible.
It wasn't about what I do or how I feel about "something," it was basically about this other person and I "admitted" to something. I clearly "out loud" admitted to something that I was thinking and feeling.
But I am OK. It is just a bumpy road for me right now.
I think your idea is good. I've had one secret that nobody has ever known. It had nothing to do with abuse but is something happened as a result of sexual abuse. I was finally able to tell my therapist and so far, have not been relieved. It was incredible the way she helped me, but I can't put it behind me - not yet. I think there are some things one can never recover from.
I was touched to read your secret and I even understand. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing you are not alone.
Carolina Introvert: So glad to hear from you. Been thinkin' 'bout ya while you've been "away." Yeah, sometimes I've told things to my therapist and then not felt relief until I've told others. Maybe it's because I felt like I was PAYING him to listen to me! I'm not sure. And sometimes there's just a whole lot of feeling that's gotta happen before we can put things behind us. Don't know your situtation for sure, of course, but I wish you peace. And doing something really comforting for yourself never hurts!
Wanda: You're one of the people who makes me feel so "not alone." Thanks!
I'm saying goodbye soon to "Survivorship" as I feel pulled in other directions, moving on to different phases of expression and healing.
I wanted to try having a solely survivor dedicated site and I'm glad I did, but I'm too pulled in other directions by other passions to keep adding to it. I thank you so much for being there with me and for being a great supporter and cyber-friend.
Yes, I did mean kudos, not kudus, :-) in my previous comment, but I discovered kudus are the most beautiful antelope and the females are nothing short of majestically gorgeous!
I find the strength, spirit and energy of wildlife healing and inspiring, so now I love to share kudos and kudus!
Check out these awesome photos of some gorgeous kudus! They are great for lifting our human spirits!
Oodles of kudos and kudus! I'll be back to check in on you and visit.
Dr. Deb: I'm assuming that's a "good" WOW. Thanks!
john and keepers
for all of you who want to help my Swiss project getting started go to www.postcard-secret.com and share your secret :)
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