The agony of privacy

Today I answered this prompt from OriahWhat is the taste, the look, the sound that comes when you touch the center of your sorrow?

I wrote out the answer, and I sat with it and grieved for a while, and then I tucked the answer away somewhere private.

Not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed or afraid. If there is one consistent truth to my existence it is that I want to be known. I want to share these things with you. I want to open my heart to you. I want to peel back the layers and let sunlight warm my soul. I want to give voice to everything I feel so that maybe somewhere in there you will find some of the words you need.

And, too, I want to be acknowledged. I want you to know what went on behind my smile and my verve and my drive. I want to give the gift of closure to the boy who kept secrets; who dreamed of a day when he could tell his tale.

Not least: I want to confess to you. Selfishly I want the ears of a thousand priests to hear my contrition. I want to walk in the light of total transparency. I want to pay my debts now, not later.

But my stories are not mine alone. There is no way to keep them anonymous. There are stories I can’t tell now, and maybe some I can’t tell ever.

And maybe transparency is as much a trap as secrecy. Because I didn’t want to sit still with those words. I wanted to launch them out into the world, hurl them away from myself and get back validation and sympathy in return.

Sometimes it’s easier to tell a hurt to a thousand people than to be alone with it. Or to tell it to just one person, in the stillness of their attention; to let it linger in the air, inescapable and real.

I often feel as if privacy is something that was foisted on me by adulthood, like taxes and the ability to get hangovers. But maybe there is a gift here too. Is it possible that this introvert is still a little afraid to be alone—and stay alone—with his thoughts? Perhaps I am not always wrong in the absence of witnesses. Perhaps I can wipe my own tears.

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