When we live such fragile lives/ It’s the best way we survive —Dirty Little Secret
While running errands today I heard the All American Rejects song that reminded me of the Post Secret (www.postsecret.blogspot.com) event we organized. I’ve started checking the site each week since then to read the secrets that people are willing to share and the see how they share them, which is almost as important and interesting. I know that I submitted a number of postcards when we put on the event, in part to share and in part so that it didn’t come off as a total failure. I was surprised the night of the event to see how many more people shared their secrets. Or, if they were like me, how a few people had so many secrets to share. At a school in a city where so much is invested in appearances, it was both a beautiful and ugly moment when all these things we hid were shared. Granted, the project is anonymous, so the secrets are still somewhat secret. There was still something cathartic, something powerful in giving secrets a name, to condensing it into a four by six inch piece of paper.
It was refreshing and energizing to see such openness and authenticity in a community that was only really linked by the art. There’s no way to know whose cards those were and if they had any other interactions aside from the project. It’s almost easier to think that people who don’t know me, who don’t see me every day, were seeing things that I never admit to anyone, whether trivial or deep. It’s easier to tell someone who I don’t have to maintain contact with that I’m broken and dark and messy because the reality is that I don’t really matter to them. There is less judgement, less pity, less chance that I’ll ever have to talk about the secret again. There is also something healing about getting to be that confidant for someone else. It’s nice to know that you are not alone, but you are also not discovered.
I think it’s interesting the secrets that we keep and those we finally let go. The trivial habits and vices that we will never reveal and the monumental thoughts and fears that we do and don’t share. I think that some things just eat away, are so corrosive to a person, that they just have to come out at some point. Others, in the light of time and distance, become less dangerous so the time comes to allow them to be known. Still others reveal enough of themselves in small ways, over time, that they simply cannot be denied or hidden any longer. And still others will never leave our lips.
I want to talk to people more about what I’m feeling– about fears and pain and joy and hopes. I want to talk honestly and fully. It’s easy to say that I’m afraid of being alone or that I feel lonely, but it’s another thing all together to really talk about why and what I actually feel, specifics instead of generalities. I want to be honest with people about how I feel. I want to tell them what they mean to me, to be up front about feelings that I hide. But it’s too raw and real and risky to get into all of that, so it stays silent. There is too much that I do that I’m embarrassed of, that I want to be reassured in, that I hope I’m not alone in. But the fear of actually being alone, being abnormal, of humiliation is too intense. So, no matter how much I talk myself up, I decide to be honest, I face my secrets, I keep it all inside. I hope one day this isn’t true. I hope that I can be open, show my friends and strangers alike the things I hold inside, like I was in my postcards. One day I want to choose to keep my secrets back, not let them keep me. I don’t think we’ll ever not have secrets– sometimes it’s nice to keep something to yourself. I just want to feel comfortable enough not to keep myself to myself.