Saying Goodbye to Your Dirty Laundry

We all have a secret, a dirty little pestering thing that every once in a while surfaces and makes us want to crawl in a dark corner to flagellate ourselves thinking about how terrible we are. Surprise!! It’s not just you! Whether it’s leaving the dishes in the sink one too many days or maybe something you wouldn't even want your parents to know. We’ve all made a mistake, but how we choose to deal with our “dirty laundry” is how we can become better versions of ourselves. Flaws, mistakes, and all. Confession time: I made a poor choice once. Really bad. I won’t go into details, but I ended up roping in several people who didn't need to be in the situation into it and even ruined my reputation with someone I had been crushing on for a very long time. I was a mess. I had never been in a situation like that before and I had no idea how to deal with it. I was scared, confused, and the last thing I wanted to do was relay all of this information to my parents and attend meetings and be given some sort of punishment. But I had to. It was time to air out the dirty laundry and start clean.

I’m not going to give you a step by step guide. You know yourself better than anyone else, but regardless things need to be handled. This is what I did, but you have to do what is best for you and your situation.

The toughest part isn’t actually sharing the secret, it’s entering into the right mindset. It’s not owning up to the mistake that’s hard, it’s not letting yourself get caught up in the idea that you are not a terrible person for making a poor choice or having a bad habit. The idea is to remind yourself that you are not stupid, but you made a stupid choice. This was by far the hardest step for me and I even find myself slipping into irrational thoughts and making yourself miserable. You need to move on and the only way to do that is to do that is to get yourself in the right head space to deal with the situation. Once you’ve made peace with it, it’s makes it all the easier to share your secret and help clear the air and tell people what the situation is.

So now that you’ve made peace with yourself, it’s time to spill your guts. The best plan for me was to talk to a counselor first to get a plan set up and rehearse conversations before telling my parents and others. I’m not going to lie, that was the worst conversation I’ve ever had with them. It wasn't pleasant, especially what they had to share with me in response, but afterwards I felt so much better. Everyone moves at their own pace and not everyone needs an action plan before having those conversations. But whatever you have to do to move forward, do it. You cannot dwell over the idea because you’ll only hurt yourself by making yourself feel terrible about you dirty secret.

After you have that tough conversation, everything that happens after coming clean is going to vary depending on the secret and who you tell. Some people may shrug their shoulders and say, “who cares?”  While others may not want to speak to you. Whatever the outcome, mentally prepare yourself for that and be sure stay calm by avoiding saying or doing something you may regret. Give them time to think and process what they have learned. If they are truly your friends and truly love you, they will not let a bad mistake or poor decision, or dark secret define you. Sure they might be mad, or even worse, disappointed for a bit, but it’s key to show them you are bigger than your flaws, mistakes, and dirty habits. The biggest step is moving on and not letting your dirty laundry define you. We’ve all made mistakes, we all have a secret, and it’s how we handle it that makes us better people. Take your time and move at your own pace. It’s a scary and gut-wrenching experience, but the sooner you’ve aired out your dirty laundry, the better you’ll feel about others, life, and yourself.