Sunday, August 26, 2007

Privacy

There seems to be rather a fine line between keeping one's private life private, and leading a secret double life.

You start off just not telling people that you're trying to start a family. Nobody's business, after all, but your own. And then when you get pregnant, you keep it to yourself as much as possible, because it's early days yet. You miscarry, and congratulate yourself on everyone you didn't tell-- even though now there's this kind of emotional barrier between you and the un-told: they don't know what's going on with you because you couldn't tell them. You try again, succeed and fail again in rapid succession. More people know this time, because the pregnancy hit harder and lasted longer-- you were starting to come out of the closet, so to speak. But there's still a large contingency that knows nothing about the trying, the pregnancies, and miscarriages. Combine this with the fact that you started trying to get pregnant at the same time that you moved across country, meeting an entirely new group of friends and acquaintances; people to chat with, hang out with, but not necessarily share the more intimate details of life with.

And suddenly it's difficult to chat and hang out, (even more than before, when you didn't explain why suddenly you can't stay up past ten in the evening) because you realize: it's a double life. Someone asks "What's up, how are you?" and your answer is a complete fabrication-- fine, not much new, same ol' same ol'. But you're thinking: the whole time we've been friends, for almost a year now, I've been struggling. I've gotten pregnant twice; spent maybe four months total immobilized on the sofa, having traded nights playing darts for hugging the commode. Went through two miscarriages. I'm trying to deal with the changes and problems that these new stressors add to a relationship-- the guilt, the blame, the worry. And you don't know a thing about any of it, which is nobody's fault but my own. I'm scared and depressed and tired, and I can't talk to you about it without starting from the beginning and changing the nature of our friendship.

And it's my own fault. For being so circumspect right from the start, for keeping new friendships light and airy, based on television-darts-hamburgers-beer-the Red Sox and not on life. Should I have been more open? It is against my nature for the most part. It wouldn't seem so for someone who keeps an Internet journal like this, right? But this writing is a substitution, something that balances the private, quiet, almost closed-off character that I tend to be in person. But where is the line drawn? How do you know which people are which-- which ones that could be close real friends that talk about the future, the past, joy and heartbreak, and which will back away uncomfortably, wishing that the subject of conversation was still last night's game of darts? I have always waited for the other person to make that call and then responded in kind, but now I realize that this is lazy and ungenerous.

And it leaves me with a fake smile on my face, casual lies flowing from my mouth, and a blog as the main place to sort out the truth.

5 comments:

bella said...

Sometimes, you just have to ask yourself if you want the friendship to really BE a friendship. Do you want to take that chance or do you want to keep it an acquaintance?

I have the opposite problem: I share way the hell too much, and often too quickly to the point where I'm sure I've sabotaged a few possible friendships by just hitting them over the head with my shit! But really...I digress

Something like pregnancies come and gone, loneliness in a new town, or even "these are my hobbies" aren't always something to be blurted out if that isn't your style. Except for family, we didn't even tell anyone we were pregnant until about three months because I was afraid of jinxing the whole thing. You don't HAVE to tell anyone anything, unless of course, you want to. So what if it's been a casual friendship for a year, do you want it to be more? I'm not going to give you a play by play on "how to win friends" cause I'm pretty terrible at it myself, but all relationships have a give and take factor, and there is always that chance for hurt when you want to trust.

You're an amazingly giving person, Mara...and a big heart to boot. The huge hug Jordan and I have wanted to give you with each loss is still there for you if you ever want it, and we only know you on a "casual" basis...so I'm more than positive that anyone who is so lucky to have you as a "in the flesh" friend would more than want to be there for you right now, and in the future.

duernbergersally said...

Bella is soooo right! To risk a friendship is to engender one. If an acquaintance pulls away just because he/she would rather not be a part of your life at any given point in time, then it's just an acquaintanceship, anyway. A friend will be there for the good as well as the bad, but only when he/she knows about either. In the nine years since my beloved husband died, I've reached out to many more people than I've ever done before,in my entire life. (Ask Ben, he'll tell you.) Some I already knew,some I've only recently met over the last few years. And only once have I had to count what I thought would become a true friend as just a colleague, just an acquaintance. I think that's really great odds! I only know you "casually", by means of your blog, but rest assured, I think I could be a really good friend if you need me. Take care, little one. Life has a way of working itself out. Just have the courage to put yourself out there and see what happens.
Blessings, Ben's Aunt Sally

P.S. I read your account of the green sweater. I've been cleaning out some closets and have way too many sweaters that I no longer wear as it's just too warm, even in the winter, here in Dallas now. Must be global warming...or my personal global warming?;) I'd be pleased to pass a few of them on to you if I thought you would like them. I could get your adress from Ben or he could give you my e-mail address. Let me know if you're interested.

Benjamin said...

There are a lot of people in your corner and we're all honored to be there. I extend hug invitations to you as well. And we can always talk on the phone about anything - anything at all - even if it's just Harry Potter.

ayla said...

I have friendships like that, and I realize that the first step to becoming more "friends" and less "acquaintances" is to just start from where you are. You don't need to give backstory if you don't want to. So "how are you" can be "Actually, I'm going through a rough patch right now," instead of "I'm fine, and you?" That way they can indicate how much more intimate they want to be, without you going way out on a limb. And if they show some interest, that doesn't mean that you have to spill everything right then, either. Go from vague to more specific. "I've had some losses in my life recently that have been hard to deal with..." stuff like that.

I'm someone who tends to get very personal very quickly, because I've moved so much I've needed that "instant intimacy". I've noticed that there are lots of people who aren't comfortable being on the receiving end of such personal sharing, more than there are people who are comfortable with it.

I think you're a wonderful person, and I feel honored to get to know you through your blog. I don't know if I've said any of this very well, but I hope you get my gist. And, you're a Red Sox fan? Where are you from? You can email me if you want.

take care.

Bex said...

I just realized we worked together for ages before we started actually becoming friends rather than work buddies. Not until those days of sorting books in the dark recesses of the place of the books. It was probably the lack of windows, that's enough to make anyone reach out. :)