The Heavy Price We Pay for Secrets

 “We all have secrets. The truths we can’t face. The wounds too painful to examine. We tuck them inside a box and promise ourselves that later, when we’re strong enough, we’ll open the box.”

Marcie Keithley
Marcie and Roger
Marcie and Roger


We all have them. Tucked away quietly on a shelf that we choose to ignore. Sometimes they find us in our darkest moments or when God is calling us to pay attention, but they’re always there. Lurking. Waiting. I had one of these sitting quietly in a shoebox in my closet for a long time. It took a moment of pain, totally unrelated to my past, to force me to face mine.

Secrets hold us down. We think that by ignoring them they will disappear, but the truth is that they rarely ever do. Secrets can also create great pain. A pain that grows and builds every year that we choose to pretend doesn’t exist.

Even psychologists recognize the damaging effects of keeping secrets. In 2012, Dr. Alex Lickerman, M.D. wrote an article about The Danger of Keeping Secrets. In the article, he mentions the guilt associated with secrets and the power behind reveling those secrets to others. I know that guilt. I’ve felt it. What I don’t want is for you to ever feel that way.

Hidden Wounds

“Ignoring the wounds of your past is like living life on a credit card. Eventually, the bill comes due”

Marcie Keithley

Hidden wounds reappear later in life if not attended to. That’s why it is so important to deal with them when they rear their ugly little heads. The memories inside my shoebox weren’t the only ones that haunted my past. I had wounds tucked away in a mental shoebox I carried with me every day.

These memories, some of which dated all the way back to my childhood, are the reason for this blog and for my memoir The Shoebox Effect. I knew that I needed to confront my secrets and start healing my wounds. Writing did that for me. Pouring out the details of some of the most tragic moments of my life is not easy. But it has to be done. Because if I can do it, so can you.


I know you’re wondering how to get to where I am. It’s a murky road, and one we all travel every day. Whether the sun is shining on your faces or the storm is lingering above your head, put one foot in front of the other and focus on that first. Thankfully, there are those out there that have words of wisdom we can learn from.

I have a book by Dr. Phil that is my life bible. I have read, reread, and highlighted certain passages that were important to me and one always sticks out. Life Law #4 “You cannot change what you do not acknowledge.” For me, that was the beginning of my journey to healing.  I highly recommend that you take a moment and read it for yourself. You can read more about Dr. Phil’s Ten Life Laws here. When you take the time the look inward, you’re giving yourself the gift of healing. By acknowledging the wounds of your past and revealing the secrets you’ve been hiding, you are freeing yourself. It may not feel that way today, tomorrow, or in a year. But by accepting that the past is behind you, you are giving yourself an opportunity to have a more positive future.

Discovery and Healing

For me personally, I had to just go sit in my mess and allow myself to feel the loss and pain that I had tried to substitute in other ways. This was crucial for me in the healing process. You may have to do the same thing. You may do something completely different. Whatever you decide to do, choose wisely. Don’t let your fear of facing the past destroy your chances at a better future.

Today, take a moment to really look inside and find out why you are still fighting against your personal secrets and wounds. Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of. Someone else finding out? Having to admit the truth to yourself? What is it that is not allowing you to move forward? Dig deep and discover what’s holding you back. It’s the only way to be able to start healing.

“The Shoebox Effect is more than a memoir…it’s a movement.”

What’s in YOUR shoebox?


  1. Michelle on January 25, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    So powerful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sherrie Eldridge on January 25, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    What an insightful post!
    Your proud friend here…Sherrie

  3. Lorraine Dusky on January 26, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Marcie, I couldn’t agree more. When I was able to tell my mother about my daughter, and then my brothers, it was as if I got rid of a heavyweight inside my heart. It didn’t bring her back, but it made the rest of my life easier.

  4. Mirah Riben on January 26, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    Lethal Secrets was written by Annette Baran long before… family secrets are TOXIC.

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