Sometimes it’s good things: pregnancies, engagements, job offers. Things that will eventually be announced, but only at the right moment. Other times it’s painful stuff, illnesses, family troubles, relationship problems. Mental health issues. Problems that, for a variety of reasons, are being dealt with privately.
I completely understand the utility and even necessity of that privacy. I mean, that’s what partners are there for, right? To help you deal with/celebrate the things in your life that aren’t ready for public viewing. Yet for some reason, I get irrationally (and momentarily) sort of sad or hurt when I find out a friend has been keeping something from me.
Again, let me say that I know this is stupid, and it’s just a momentary thing. But for example, I have an acquaintance who I kinda sorta suspect is pregs. I just get a vibe. Possibly I’m completely wrong, And I completely (I swear!) understand why people don’t announce pregnancies widely until they’re at least a trimester in. I mean, that makes total sense. Yet I feel this strange little stab of like, what the hell? Why are you being so secretive? Why are you keeping things from me?
It just makes me feel like a little kid again, hearing my parents whispering about something and knowing that what they were talking about would never be explained to me; that they had a life outside of me that I’d never really understand. It’s a lonely sort of a feeling—that I’m all alone with my thoughts, and they’re not as interesting as what those people over there are talking about.
Which makes even less sense because now I’m an adult and I have my own relationship and we have our own “secrets.” Scare quotes are necessary because I’ve come to realize in my adulthood relationship-having that the vast majority of the “secrets” between partners are the minutiae of life that are just too boring to bother anybody else with.
The day-to-day play-by-play crap that if your friends were forced to listen to it would never hang out with you again, but that a spouse or partner has to at least pretend to be interested in: tiny, daily changes in job status, things that people said that were sort of funny, thoughts about articles on the internet, etc. Dumb inside jokes that aren’t inside because they are special and secret but because they’re dumb and also you had to be there.
It’s funny because when I’m single, that is the thing I miss the most, and the thing you can’t really get from casual hookups: someone to listen to and give a shit about the 90% of everyday existence that is not anecdote worthy.
So I know, logically, that nobody keeping anything from me that I need or want to know, and that I’ll find out about anything interesting eventually, and that anyway, I have my own relationship full of the same kind of “secrets” I perceive in others. And yet every so often I still get that weird little kid feeling of being left out.
For some reason, weddings do it to me every time. My friends got married this weekend, and it was really nice—a heartfelt yet non-cheesy ceremony, good food, hilariously patrician location (the Harvard Club, don’t you know old boy.) It was, as far as weddings go, really, really fun and made more so by the fact that neither of them are big wedding people, so they seemed to feel as out of place as the rest of us young ‘uns at such a serious ritual in such a serious location.
But at the same time, even though they were laughing at the whole thing, they seemed to have access to some kind secret knowledge that the spotlight focused on their relationship at that moment still didn’t reveal.
For all the ceremony and rhetoric about the Everlasting Love and Undying Affection and whatever shared by the couple, as much as other people talk about it and describe it in their own terms in an attempt to drag whatever is between the two of them out into the open for us all to see and know and validate for ourselves (and society!) by examining and acknowledging, there’s always something obviously kept back, that only the two of them can access. I mean, I get that it’s precisely because everyone wants their relationship to be momentarily public property that the secret part is so important, and so obviously pleasing to the people getting married—I think we all know those sly smiles that brides and grooms always have for each other—and I’d never want to take that sheltered bit away.
It just gives me a lonely, disconnected feeling sometimes. Maybe I’m just weird.