Processed with VSCOcam with b6 presetI’m pretty good at keeping secrets. Most of the time, this is a good thing — when it comes to my friends’ confidences, my lips are zipped, and I’m sure that they appreciate this about me. Tell me to keep something to myself, and it goes into a deep, dark grave that cannot be disinterred.

I’ve also kept my own secrets when I shouldn’t have.

After being assaulted, years ago, I told no one about the circumstances of the incident. Not my best friend, whom I politely asked to take me to Planned Parenthood the next day for the morning-after pill; not my other friend, whom I merely told that I wasn’t a virgin anymore, and she called me a slut in response; not my therapist, whom I’d been seeing for three years. I wrote about it in my journal, and then I painted over it.

I stopped taking my medication once in order to sustain a mania that I so desperately wanted to maintain after months of bleak depression. I did not sleep for at least four days — perhaps an hour, here and there, but otherwise I was shuddering with energy. I punched trees. I scrawled notes, which were actually nonsense, in my notebooks. But I told no one, including C, that I was doing so badly. And I only told him that I’d stopped taking my medication when it was far too late. I ended up in the hospital.

Sometimes we keep secrets because we’re embarrassed.

Sometimes we keep secrets because we think we’ve done something wrong, and will be punished if someone finds out. Or we believe that we’re simply bad people, and that our badness must not be revealed.

Often, we keep secrets from ourselves, and don’t realize it until we’re frozen in front of the refrigerator in a graduate-school apartment, holding a red pepper — the most calorie-innocuous thing I could find at the time — too afraid to eat it, or anything else.

We keep secrets for a lot of reasons, and in too many cases, our secrets only lead to pain. We remain undiagnosed. We stay in abusive relationships. We get sicker. We feel lonelier.

A secret must be kept to create strength, not weakness. (Click to tweet)

Alliance, not isolation.

We must carefully consider the secrets that we keep in order to survive.

If you’re going through a difficult time, one of the easiest — and still challenging — ways to excavate the secrecy often involved in those times is to journal. It has been, for me, the safest space to tell my life’s story. Find out how to tell yours in Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times. Registration is limited, and will be ending in a little more than a week. I can tell you, with complete honesty, that due to the people I already know who are enrolled, the course’s community has the potential to be one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve personally had the honor of participating in. Join us.