Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Dark family secret. Do I tell her?

(92 Posts)
mojitosbythesea Sun 19-Mar-17 17:01:25

What do you do when you’ve been sworn to secrecy about something pretty horrific in the family, but it’s messing up your head? I feel like I might explode if I don’t talk to the only person who will understand exactly how I feel. My sister.

For lots of reasons, this has all recently resurfaced and I’m finding it a real struggle. How can I sit there and listen to all these ‘lovely’ stories about someone I now hate? Someone I wish I had no biological ties to. I am ashamed to have had them in my family. It kills me.

My therapist thinks I should tell her, as keeping it to myself is hindering my recovery (I suffer with depression and anxiety).

The thing is though, morally, is it ever ok to break a promise?… What will she gain from knowing what I know? What will I gain?

abbsisspartacus Sun 19-Mar-17 17:05:05

Apart from peace of mind what would you gain?

Perspective? Is it really as bad as you think?

Is someone now at risk because of what happened then?

Could they do it again?

Finola1step Sun 19-Mar-17 17:06:28

Is someone at risk?

ImperialBlether Sun 19-Mar-17 17:07:02

Who swore you to secrecy? Was it the person who did the act or his/her spouse?

I would tell if it's too much for you to handle yourself.

PrimeMinistersQuestionables Sun 19-Mar-17 17:07:03

Oh op! I really don't know what to say! sad
If it was so impactful you've needed therapy, then maybe you shouldn't have been sworn to secrecy at all?
What kind of secret is it?
Sending hugs

MadMags Sun 19-Mar-17 17:07:22

Is the person dead now? Why would your sister understand more than anyone else?

Will it do her any good to know? If not, will you feel guilty for telling her?

Fwiw, if my ds had to tell me something awful but it helped her, I would happily listen and support her.

BonnyScotland Sun 19-Mar-17 17:08:03

Keep nobody's secrets... your simply enabling them to live freely or be remembered without consequence... meanwhile you sound pretty torn up to the point of needing therapy...

you do what is right for YOU x

highinthesky Sun 19-Mar-17 17:08:14

It's ok to break a promise in the interest of averting danger. You don't need to become part of the problem.

It's plain daft to commit to promising to keep a confidence without knowing what it is.

iremembericod Sun 19-Mar-17 17:11:47

Other people don't get to decide whether you have to keep something secret. It's down to your own personal integrity.

A murderer could make me swear to keep their crime a secret, but I don't have to.

Morality is complicated - just because you have sworn secrecy doesn't mean that trumps covering up bad things people have done.

mojitosbythesea Sun 19-Mar-17 17:20:21

Haven't read all replies yet, but wanted to make the very important point that this family member died 20 years a go.

mojitosbythesea Sun 19-Mar-17 17:20:42 nobody is at risk.

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Sun 19-Mar-17 17:22:09

The secret sounds a burden. .
You need to offload it for your own mental health.
That doesn't make you a bad person at all. flowers

Catrina1234 Sun 19-Mar-17 17:22:56

You haven't given enough information for anyone to help you. Obviously you don't need (nor should you) reveal the secret, but you say the only person to understand is your sister but don't give any reason why you can't talk to her about it. You seem to give the impression the secret would cause a load of grief to your sister. This person you now hate - is he/she related to your sister. Your therapist thinks you should tell your sister, so what's holding you back, though of course it's your call.

And yes - as many have asked what were the circumstances of being "sworn to secrecy" and for what reason.

AtrociousCircumstance Sun 19-Mar-17 17:23:11

Who did you make the promise to, the person who did the awful thing/s?

I think you should tell your sister too. Unburden yourself. Why should you spend your entire life holding a horrible secret in, suffering, longing to share it, but torment yourself by keeping it back - which forces you to take responsibility for it in some way.

You don't have to put yourself through it.

highinthesky Sun 19-Mar-17 17:23:55

Out of interest, is the deceased family member the protagonist, or the person you made the promise to?

INeedNewShoes Sun 19-Mar-17 17:25:59

You have the rest of your life ahead of you. You owe it to yourself (and anyone who cares about you should agree) to not make yourself miserable with this secret.

Secrets are ghastly things, especially when the teller makes you swear never to tell anyone.

loveyoutothemoon Sun 19-Mar-17 17:26:19

You should say something. If you're not comfortable keeping it and it's destroying you, you're making the right decision.

Pallisers Sun 19-Mar-17 17:30:19

I think people have a duty of confidentiality in certain circumstances.

You don't have any duty and this secret is burdening you terribly. So what if you promised to keep a secret - it isn't binding and it isn't a moral imperative to hurt yourself for the sake of keeping quiet about what someone long dead did long ago. Tell your sister if it will help you and feel no guilt at all.

Whoever told you and bound you to secrecy had no right to do that. And my guess is the way it was told to you and the unhealthy secrecy is all part of the original bad thing that was done. Break free, set yourself free. Tell the secret to your sister and to whomever else you want.

alltouchedout Sun 19-Mar-17 17:31:45

IDK. I know a horrible family secret. I don't talk to anyone about it. Not even the person who told me. But I am not suffering as you are, and if I were I think I'd talk to my DB if I felt it would help. Not that he'd thank for me for it. It's not a nice thing to know.

Kelsoooo Sun 19-Mar-17 17:35:06

Tell her . If this was my sister, any of them, I'd want them to tell me. Their mental health is far more important. And also, selfishly, I'd want to know so i wasn't being mislead about someone.

noitsnotme Sun 19-Mar-17 17:35:28

You say your sister is the only person who will understand. How do you know that if she doesn't know the secret yet? What makes you think so? Is there a chance she won't believe you?

Megatherium Sun 19-Mar-17 17:41:00

Was it the deceased family member who swore you to secrecy? If so I would say your duty to them has come to an end, unless it would be particularly hurtful to other people if the information leaked out.

TheNaze73 Sun 19-Mar-17 17:41:13

If you sworn to secracy, you can't tell. That's how it works

DrippyWet Sun 19-Mar-17 17:41:17

Can you just half tell it. Say that there is a reason you don't want to hear how wonderful this person is but that you don't want to go into details.

Floggingmolly Sun 19-Mar-17 17:41:24

Who has sworn you to secrecy about events that happened 20 years ago? Why did you agree to keep it all secret?

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: