Monday column: Living in the shadow of a secret

Opinion Sunday 28/April/2024 19:40 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday column: Living in the shadow of a secret

There are people who live with a lie all their lives. It is a terrible burden when you have to carry in your conscience a dark secret. In my opinion, nobody is spared by this plague.

People smile and talk as they go on with their businesses with a shadow in their minds following them everywhere. They try to shrug it off by it is not easy. For most of them, it is like an indefinite prison sentence.

People who shake your hand and never want to let it go try to share that burden with you. I don’t know. I think we all cry for help but in different ways. We try to reach for someone, not with words, but by everyday gestures. Words are not easy to put together since they leave our feelings bare. If a friend or relative call you out of the blue just to say hello then it is not just guilt. They want to say something more but do not have the courage.

Guilt also blunts your most important decisions. You toss and turn in the night for no particular reason blaming hormones or the late meal. Every normal decision may become a major issue. Millions of people go to their graves taking that secret with them. In theory, it is easy to confront it and take it of your system and face the consequences. It may not be that bad. Most of the time it is not. There’s this couple who were determined not to tell their adopted son the truth. They wanted to “emotionally protect” him from knowing that his real parents were unknown. The problem is that, in such situations, adopted children, once they reach adulthood, they are strong enough to accept. But the parents, as they grow older, become too weak to carry the burden another year. Yet, they do it, taking away a large chunk of their happiness with it.

Now you can imagine the suffering of one parent faces if the other one dies. The surviving one takes the whole responsible alone. Going alone is like running with the Olympic torch the entire length of your life. You just keep running and it is no lap of honour either. I think people who talk a lot try to push out any offending thoughts out of their minds. They talk ceaselessly even when they are alone. The mind even goes into a graphic mode when they sleep. Dreams float in and out in the attempt to keep the big secret from haunting them. When they talk about the demons in us they really referring to the corrupted state of mind.

So, not everybody you meet in the streets is normal. As a matter of fact, not even our spouses who we share the bed with. I am not becoming senile but these dark secrets spare no one.

Just think about it. It is easy to say you can get them out in the open so you can release yourself. In some cases, getting out of your system is never enough. You must tell the right person.

Just a few years ago, an elderly man was struggling with his inner conflicts and I had to listen to him. How would he tell his wife that he had mistress for eleven years? Now you know what I mean. My job then was to listen and to offer advice. But I should have told him that most women have a knack of knowing but they turn a blind eye. I think it is their way of making their offending husbands carry a lifetime guilt as a punishment.