Inevitably, when you start exploring a family tree, the question of secrets comes to the fore. When most people talk about a secret, they are referring to something they know which they decide not to disclose.
But in psychogenealogy, deciding not to disclose something is not strictly a secret. It is somewhere in between. It is something known and unspoken. In French, there is a specific word for this - a non-dit - which distinguishes it from a real secret. A real secret in psychogenealogy is a step further away. It is something unknown and inexpressible that exerts a real force.
Here's an example. Imagine David marries Alice. In time they have two sons, Roger and James. After being laid off, David becomes very depressed and commits suicide by hanging. Because of his sensitive nature, Alice and Roger decide to tell James his father died from natural causes. Alice and Simon know something they decide not to speak about. This is unspoken. It is not a secret for them. But it is a secret for James because he doesn't know about it.
When Alice dies at a ripe old age, James who is now an adult, becomes depressed and tries to commit suicide by hanging. Roger has a son called Tony. Tony goes through a difficult period in his life and contemplates suicide by hanging too.
In this family, Tony and James are bearers of a secret. It is unknown, inexpressible but it exerts a real influence on their psychic lives.
Imagine now Tony discovers how his grandfather really died. He experiences relief and his suicidal thoughts dissolve. He also discovers that his uncle James doesn't know the truth about his father's death. The question now is, does he tell his uncle James the truth about David's death or not? What attitude should Tony have in relation to his father Roger for not telling him or James the truth?
Dealing with secrets is delicate. The person who unwittingly carries a secret can suffer as a result. In this case, discovering the secret was a release for Tony. But telling his uncle James the truth may not be a release at all. Perhaps Tony will never speak to his brother Roger again and this may lead to a serious deterioration in the relationship between Tony and his father.
So Tony is caught between telling and not telling his uncle James the truth. In some cases, it is important to break the hold of a secret over someone and sometimes it is important not to break that hold. There are no hold-fast rules about this. If, as a result of working on your family tree, you uncover a secret, evaluate the relevance and impact such a disclosure might have on the people and the relationships involved before proceeding any further.
Dave came into today for his second session of therapy. He's big guy, built like a rugby player, with a soft centre. He has a lot of issues he'd like to deal with, but the event that triggered him into coming to therapy was when he recently learned his wife had cancer. He brought it up again with a painful look on his face so I suggested we could go into that.
Dave claims he can't feel anything. But as we stepped through the announcement of his wife's illness, he connected to a distinct sensation of oppression in his upper chest area when the doctor delivered the diagnosis. It was like a blow in the belly, he said. Staying with the sensation, Dave felt a lot of underlying anger. It was blood red in colour.
Using a special protocol, I explored with Dave where the sensation and anger were coming from. It wasn't in his adult life and it wasn't in his childhood. It finally led Dave to connect this state to his paternal grandfather. His grandfather had been a very angry man, he began to tell me for the first time. He had worked on developing bombs for the army and had become exposed to dangerous chemicals which shortened his life. Dave felt the deep state of rage his grandfather would only let himself experience when he was alone. When he was with others, he felt nothing so he wouldn't exploded into someone.
So we worked to help Dave's grandfather name these inner feelings to break the silence. Suddenly Dave felt calm in his upper chest area. So we verified it by running through the announcement experience again. But there was no sensation of oppression anymore for Dave as the doctor pronounced the diagnosis. I feel calm, he said, and I can now begin to even feel some saddness.