I spent part of my day today in Washington, DC, traveling there with my daughter to see the AIDS quilt. It is a powerful expression of love and loss, in general for sure, however, our journey there was to see the panel that my siblings and I had created for our brother, Jeff, who died of AIDS related complications twenty years ago this March.
As I anticipated going there today, knowing it would be a long drive, and an emotional experience, I thought about secrets. Secrets that he had and kept, ones that I had and kept for much of my life, and that many of the members of my family had learned to keep about themselves throughout there lives. How so many people that I know keep so many secrets, so many parts of who they are hidden from others.
Secrets kill. They kill the body, mind, soul, and being of a person. Secrets are those thoughts that are kept in the darkness of our thoughts and that we make out as the truth, until we bring them into the light and get them sorted. Secrets do no good to anyone, and can create so much damage to the human soul.
My brother had secrets, secrets that no doubt pushed him along on a path of self destruction. Secrets that if he had told earlier in his life, may have made the difference for him. Secrets that caused great pain to others around him, and to himself.
When we believe that we have to keep ourselves hidden, we die inside. We let a part of ourselves float away. We come to believe that to tell something about ourselves will harm others or bring judgment to us. I have thought that those were great reasons to keep secrets over the years. Now, I view it differently. I believe that to hold those thoughts, like I can never tell, kills my spirit, and it does more damage to my relationships by not telling, because it means I am living a lie, rather than coming clean and being my true self.
So, as I stood in the rain today, seeing just an image of the panel that we had created for our brother, I knew that his secrets had been part of what killed him, and I remembered again with resolve, why I won’t keep them anymore, and will teach my daughter the same.
I want to live.