“I’ve never told anyone about this before…”
I hear this line often when people come to speak to me in the therapy room. And I hear them say those words with a lot of trepidation, and nervousness.
Over the years, I have come to realise that there is a lot hidden in this one statement – “I’ve never told anyone about this before…”
It is primarily a request for confidentiality, because it has been a secret for so long.
It is also a plea for compassion & empathy because it is perhaps a very difficult subject they are about to talk about.
It is an indicator that they are about to do something very courageous and they perhaps need some cheering too.
It is a warning sometimes, that they are about to say something that might make me (the listener) feel awkward.
It is most importantly an invitation to share a moment in time with them, in an intimate and heartfelt moment.
What usually unfolds is one of the most vulnerable things that a human can ever do – to bare a portion of their soul that they have hidden away for so long.
And by virtue of us being humans, in that moment of sharing, they too get a glimpse into my soul. It opens hearts at both ends. It is a touching moment that often brings tears to both of us. And it always helps both of us connect to something deeper. I believe, very few other human acts can match this degree of sacredness.
They share. I listen. It is a magical moment. Always.
In that one moment, I know that something has changed between the two of us forever.
And then I wonder, why haven’t they had the opportunity to share this magical experience with others?
Shame is the straight answer. I often see that there is a lot of shame that the person feels surrounding the subject. They often have reason to believe that they will not be received with respect and honour. They are afraid they will be shamed and humiliated for their truth and their experience of reality.
And alas, they deny their world the opportunity to share a magical moment of vulnerable connection.
When I speak to these people, I often ask them why they hadn’t shared such a beautiful and intimate part of their lives with other loved ones in their lives. And they always tell me that they had always wanted to talk about it. But the environment never felt safe.
I have learnt that nobody really wants to keep secrets. Nobody really wants to shut away their deepest truths (no matter how painful it may be). We all want to be heard. But we know that we will not be received. When our deepest truth is not heard or seen by anyone, we start to feel invisible. And invisibility is painful.
Many of these people come to a therapist, with the hope that at least a therapist, will see them for their deepest truth and reality.
Why do we live in a structure that generates so much shame and fear in individuals, that they cannot talk about such important aspects of their lives with anyone?
Why have we created a structure where being vulnerable needs to be an act of courage?
Shouldn’t everyone have the privilege of being able to share their intimate truth with more ease and with less fear?
Wouldn’t it create more connections and bonds when we can all find (at least) a precious few with whom we can bare our souls?
I dream of a world where a therapist doesn’t have to be the first one to listen to such deep parts of someone’s soul. I would love to hear more people tell me, “I have talked about this to my dear ones before…and I wish to share this with you too…”
That would be a very different world, a far less lonely and isolated world.
Here’s something I like to often ask myself :
1. What are things that I have never told anyone about? Why am I holding it all in? Who are the safe people in my life that I can start sharing my truth with?
2. How can I be a safe presence, where people feel secure enough to bare the deepest parts of their soul?
3. How can I teach one other person to create safety for another person that they meet? Maybe the chain of safe-spaces will slowly grow longer…