“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
- C.S. Lewis, March 3rd entry from The Reflective Counselor: Daily Meditations for Lawyers, by Coffey & Kessler.
The fortunate among us have experienced the relief of sharing with a trusted other our secret fears, shame, or guilt . There are few to no feelings, regardless of how dark, that have not been felt by another human being. Trusted friends, even if their “secrets” are different, remind us that we all have aspects of ourselves that we would not want to see on the front page of our local newspaper. Our truest friends also remind us that there is more to us than our secrets; they remind us of our strengths and our likeability.
Sometimes, it is easier to share difficult feelings with a mental health professional who is not involved in one’s life outside of the professional relationship. Professionals bring knowledge, skill and patience to the therapeutic relationship, in additional to confidentiality. The secrets we keep buried weigh us down. They tend to have causes and effects, the complexity of which are often outside of our awareness. A foundation of the psychodynamic therapeutic approach is that the more a person is able, when ready, to bring things from an unconscious state into conscious awareness, the less power those buried thoughts, feelings and memories will have on the person. When things are brought into conscious awareness, provided one is psychologically ready, a person can experience more choice and flexibility in the present. When shared with a compassionate, trusted other, long-held shame can be healed.