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Does Everyone have a Secret?

Families are funny because they create interesting communication scenarios that complicates life.  I had a funny experience with my family this weekend that I want to share and see if you or someone you know has ever experienced something similar.

My parents came for a visit, a long weekend, since we hadn’t seen each other in a while.  At one point I’m walking with my dad and he tells me that my mother’s doctor had left a message saying that the blood test she had gone in for came back with results that were elevated.  The message also went on to say that my mother needed to go in to speak with the doctor about treatment options (it was a glucose test).  My father went on to say that he didn’t want to tell my mother about the test results until their mini-vacation was over so she wouldn’t worry. 

A day later my mother, who is technologically challenged, had me look at her cell phone.  I noticed she had a small envelope at the top of the screen and told her she had a message.  Lo and behold the doctor had left a message about her test results.  She didn’t seem scared or anxious at the news, but resolved, like it’s just one more thing.  She told me not to tell my dad.

At this point I had to tell each of them that the other knew about the message.  What’s the underlying message of the story?  Each was trying to protect the other from the news left by the doctor.  Like most people my family doesn’t always deal with medical issues that well ( they leave that to me) so a possible diabetes diagnosis was not in the cards.  I thought it was sweet that they wanted to protect one another.  My dad definitely doesn’t deal with medical issues well, he won’t even take an aspirin when he’s sick, so the idea of treatment of any kind sends him to the stratosphere.

What’s the real essence of the story?  We want to believe that we’re protecting others by not sharing news, but that often backfires.  You may not think others can handle the news, but you’d be surprised; I certainly was this weekend.  When facing a health challenge, or a mental illness the truth is that when we put ourselves in the competent and compassionate care of a good provider the journey is easier.  It’s never pleasant, but it does make it easier.

The secret, although well intended, can bind you in uncomfortable communication patterns.  Get it out there and free yourself from being bound!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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