Friday, September 13, 2013

Privacy is an interesting illusion

The heart everyone tends to hide is what I want to share. The veneer everyone tends to share is what I choose to hide.

We are all seen, day in and day out. We choose an image to project, or to be ourselves. We choose to fear or to love. We choose to help or to hate. And those who are looking can always take their time, if they so choose, and come to their own conclusions.

Do I believe I have a private life? I used to.

Well, rather, I believed nobody could see what I was going through behind the cracked walls of the house where the largest portion of my time was spent.

I was told to keep our secrets well, and so I tried to do so under the angry glare and bitter lecture following a slip of the tongue. It was dangerous to speak of the truth that somehow might expose more than I was aware of being a problem. I believed it was fine because I was told it was fine ... but speaking socially of these things that were just fine in our private lives caused a backlash that made me wonder if it was really 'fine' after all.

Everyone knew us.

Nobody knew us.

I'm learning how many saw through us. They come to me now saying, "I wish I had done more." "I'm so glad it's over." "I understand why you left."

And I can only say, "You knew? I thought it was a secret!"

Of course it wasn't. There are very few true secrets in the world. They tend to broadcast themselves by their effect on us. Our lives weren't private. Our hearts slipped through our instinctive words and actions, on display to the world in spite of all conscious efforts to hide.

But what they saw wasn't easy to solve. Those who saw were afraid, too. Secrets create a sticky fear that spreads far too easily.

Do I think nothing should be a secret? We don't live in an ideal universe. Complete transparency isn't a valid option in our imploding world. I can only live with the consequences of my own choices to speak and be silent, and let you decide for yourself.

Just be aware that a relationship is its own existence, a visible fabric of interaction that anyone can read if they take the time. So I don't tell people to keep my secrets. I just ask them to treat me as a friend. They are free to talk about me. If I've told them, I've trusted them enough to let them monitor their choices with that information. Actions count as speaking, too, because who I am should be someone who doesn't need to hide.

In the end ... trusting the relationship is really what you're doing every time you share anything, right? And my friends know I view life as a story that is meant to be told. Not everyone thinks this way. That's fine. I hold their secrets behind painted glass in a home where nobody should throw stones, because I want them to feel safe.

Privacy is an interesting illusion, I think, as I tell yet another friend ... "this is my pseudonym" ... "I'm using it so I can feel safe while I tell the truth." And I laugh at myself as I follow this path.

I'm not safe. But the illusion is enough to let me act as if I were. And maybe as I move forward I will gain the strength to be unsafe under my own name.