Did you ever hear the old phrase "What you don't know can't hurt you"? Well, it can. In fact, family secrets can destroy your life in more ways than one.

There is usually one person who is the "keeper of the secrets". That person is privileged to all the things that are unsavory about the family and usually decides who gets to know about them and when. Secrets are passed down through a family much like a family recipe. The eldest person gets the privilege of the power.

Most of the time there are many family secrets to deal with. Each one is usually specific to a particular family member. The person who knows all of these secrets has power over each one of these family members and sometimes this power can be abused.

A. is the eldest living person of family B. With the deaths of her sisters and parents she has become the keeper of the secrets. A. has had secrets of her own to deal with and they have recently become public (much to her embarrassment). C. has recently come into possession of information that calls her whole identity into question. The only person she has to go to is A. and so, she does. A. is immediately on the defensive and shuts C. down. C. leaves and continues her investigation. She gathers papers, diaries, news clippings and photos to show A. She has spoken to people who say they where part of keeping the secret, too. C. has an idea of the truth but she needs the confirmation of A. to put it all together. She goes to A. again but A. is determined to not divulge the secret. She takes her job as guardian seriously. She ties to convince C. that what she has is all wrong and that there is nothing for her to know. C. doesn't believe this and she continues to ask questions. A. is determined to keep her in the dark and tries to convince C. that she should forget it.

A. tries disinformation within the family to discredit C. It works so well that people in the small town learn that the family has fractured over some crack brained idea that C. has.C. becomes a pariah in the family and within the town. A. has succeeded in protecting the family secret.

E. also knows the family secret. No one knows how he found out but he delights in holding the fact over C.'s head. He will not tell her what he knows. He joins in the ostracism. C. is no longer a part of the family. She is a renegade.

C. has met family members of her father's family who are able to explain the "secret" from their point of view. C. begins to understand how it is effecting A. but there isn't anything she can do about it. She feels that she is entitled to the information because it is about her and her parents. She cannot understand A.'s point of view. A. is just protecting her sister's secret. The family secret, 65+ years old, is still hurting people.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Vereen is an expert on family secrets and lies. She has studied psychology, sociology and counseling. She is a freelance writer with 30+ years experience in writing about family relationships and other subjects.