What happens when a girl who is normally very reserved and secretive opens up to her friends?
She gets burned.
What happens when, against your better judgment, things normally kept to yourself are said aloud in confidence?
Seriously, I was unaware of the Friendship Guidebook rule that said "When telling a secret, you must preface it with 'Don't tell anybody.'" I was, apparently, also unaware of the subparagraph addendum that states, "Even if the teller says 'Don't tell anybody,' she doesn't really mean it. Feel free to tell anyone you like."
In the past week I have been burned twice by my own words. I guess I should've known better, followed my normal path and kept important, private information to myself. But I diverged from my normal route and chose to talk. I reasoned that these people are my friends, and I should be able to speak of things - all things, personal or otherwise - and know that a friend will take that information and keep it. Hold it. And never let it out. But I was wrong.
What began, in both cases, as a simple comment turned into an adult version of Telephone, where my words became more twisted with each telling. By the time the game spun back around to me, I could hardly recognize my original sentiment. But the damage had been done. Words were spoken with my name attached to them, and they bit me in the ass. Hard.
No one was hurt, except for me, and things in the lives around me have all calmed down and faded back into normalcy. Except for the things in my life. I'm left to wonder: What's the point of having friends if you can't talk to them?
It takes a great deal for me to open up. I'll tell you a million stories about my bad dates, my boring single life, work, or something embarrassing I did and never think twice about it. The pieces of my life that I offer to acquaintances are merely appetizers; they're good, but there's no real substance to them. I reserve the main courses for people I feel that I can trust. I know that they'll take and devour the dishes, never to be served again. What I don't expect is for those same entrees to be regurgitated at will and offered to another chef.
So I wade through shallow friendships, offering only enough of myself to give the friends the illusion that they know me, but keeping enough of myself to myself to ensure my privacy. Many of my friends have never, will never, see me mad at them. They've never seen me truly upset, they've never seen me cry tears of complete desperation. Those, I keep to myself. I'm never exceptionally happy or exceptionally sad. I keep my most polar emotions under wraps, for fear of being judged for them. I weed out the fair-weather friends until I come up with three or four people who I know will ride my tumultuous wave of emotions with me, and love me just the same. But when I feel secure enough with someone, the dam opens. I trust completely and spill my guts. How down I can get. My obsessions. How I really feel about so-and-so. How depressed I am, how utterly joyous. They know it all.
Usually, this system works for me. By the time I've opened up, my friend has paid his or her dues, and I'm sure that whatever I've said to them will stay with them forever, cross their heart, hope to die.
Apparently, the system has some glitches.
Because now I feel betrayed. I feel like all the progress I've made by letting a few more people into my mind has just been unraveled. I feel unraveled. And I feel myself closing up. I can see me folding in on myself, keeping all of my words light and not at all personal. I only want to talk about silly things: How much I spent at Shop Rite this weekend, the great sale I found at Express. And, conversely, I don't want to hear anyone else's problems. Normally the therapist for my friends, I found myself getting frustrated and annoyed this weekend when my advice was requested. I can't talk to anybody about MY problems, why should you be able to?
And I know right where this is headed: To complete shut down. Save for one or two people, no one will be privy to my inner thoughts. It's not healthy. It's not even fun. In fact, it makes me miserable. But I feel like I've been violated. By my own words. So I just won't speak. And it's a slippery slope from there to Laurie, is everything okay? It is a question I will be asked no less than a hundred times, when my silence is louder than my secrets. And I will lie, and say that things are fine.
When really, I'm just shutting down.