Are family secrets destroying lives? “Often you just can't forgive yourself”

Are family secrets destroying lives?  "Often you just can't forgive yourself"

The sense of identity and knowledge about one's ancestors strongly influence, for example, a child's self-esteem – it is higher in those familiar with family history – says Noémi Orvos-Tóth, a Hungarian psychologist and psychotherapist, author of the book “The Fate You Inherit”. What if someone is “cut off” from the history of their ancestors, their identity, knowledge about events important to the family, and instead a wall of secrets is built around them?

Krystyna Romanowska: Every family has a secret. Are there secrets that are more important and less important, bigger and smaller?

Noémi Orvos-Tóth: There are family secrets, but there are also untold stories. The latter differ from the former in that they do not have to be very hurtful to family members. These are simply things that family members feel are too personal to share. They don't really concern anyone other than the person who isn't telling the story. For example, the mother in the family does not talk about her great love from her youth, but it has – de facto – no influence on the lives of her family members.

It's different with secrets – they affect everyone in the family, but they also require energy to keep them from coming to light.

It is not discussed, and if the topic comes up accidentally, everyone around feels that it should not be touched upon by asking the wrong questions. Each of my clients who experienced such a closeness to a family secret said: “I had a feeling there must be something in it”, “I knew I couldn't touch it”. In this way, this secrecy separates us from other family members to whom we are connected.

The biggest secrets are those related to identity?

It is searching for the answer to the question: “who is my father?”, “who is my grandfather?”

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