Almost every week I get a phone call, or an e-mail, or a comment on either the blog or on Facebook from a friend or stranger telling me that they understand what I’m feeling, because they’re feeling it too and they want to reassure me that I’m not alone, or that they find comfort in my words and in knowing that they’re not alone.
We are an odd species aren’t we?
We crave companionship; humans – even the most introverted amongst us – are by nature a communal animal.
We need each other.
But we spend most of our time pretending that we don’t.
It is hard to be emotionally vulnerable. I know. This may sound contradictory given my status as a blogger, but I am an intensely private person. Anything beyond the broadest outlines of my life’s experiences is only known to the people who have lived through those experiences with me.
Put another way, what I’ve written on this blog is probably about as much as most of the people that I consider my friends know about my life, excluding direct experiences (I am, however, more than happy to discuss my bowel movements and my current emotional state with aplomb, I do an excellent job of creating intimacy without being actually intimate).
Case in point, I was at lunch about a month ago with a friend, when he made a passing comment based on a banal but false assumption about a member of my family. I paused for a moment, wondering if I should correct him, before reluctantly informing him that his assumption was actually incorrect (I have this thing about lying, even by omission, I mostly don’t do it). He looked at me, shocked, before stating in hushed tones “that he didn’t know that”.
What he didn’t know wasn’t that important (but, no I’m not telling you). It wasn’t anything dramatic like my dad being in prison (he’s not, it’s just an example), it was on the level of finding out that I’d gone to Catholic school, but the detail wasn’t about me and so I’d felt zero need to share it, even with someone who’d become a fast friend and who I was regularly chatting with for several hours every day.
He didn’t know the detail, because among the many things that I don’t talk about a big one is I don’t talk about my family. My friend Kam says I talk about my family so rarely it’s almost as though I don’t have one. To me this is funny, because when I’m not living at home I talk to my family as often as once a week and at least once a month. I just don’t talk about them.
But lately I’ve been wondering if this need for privacy, to erect barriers between us and the world is always such a good thing. On the one hand, we do end up protected from people who might deliberately or not-so-deliberately be emotionally harmful. On the other hand, however, we end up suffering alone during these periods of transition.
And so maybe, in order to lighten up, we should open up, even if we’re picky with whom we open up to.