Likened to a Vault

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The other day a friend and I had a conversation where each of us shared details of our private lives. Both of us disclosed intimate facts about ourselves. At one point, I recognized that this was the first time I’d said many of these thoughts aloud. My friend echoed this statement.

Sometimes when a person shares her most private feelings, she finds that the response is mirrored. Whether reciprocity is expected is immaterial. It’s comforting to find that our closest companions may struggle with similar challenges and carry equally heavy burdens.

There is safety in numbers–even if the number is 2.

Misery loves company–even if it is the company of one confidante.

Yesterday, I shared my experience of being labeled as having “boundary issues.” While it is true that I do not tend to be reluctant in the expression of my own thoughts and feelings, I do not expect the same from others. Though when someone tells me something, the mutual exchange can serve to bolster the structure of a friendship.

This act of disclosure is a leap of faith. The willingness to tell someone of your grief, shame, or disgrace ought to be met with openness and the tacit commitment to privacy. To disclose something risky and to believe that the listener is “just listening” and will not in the future be repeating any of it can feel liberating.

I have been the “listener” on many, many occasions. I have heard disclosures of betrayal, deceit, and sin on a regular basis. Perhaps these have followed my own confessions of wrongdoing; perhaps the speaker knew there was safe harbor in sharing with me. Maybe it was apparent that I, too, had so-called skeletons and would not judge.

Equally important to the refusal of assigning blame is the commitment to say nothing. Frequently, I’ll be asked–prior to a disclosure–if I am going to tell my spouse. (I think people who know me believe that he knows everything.) If asked this question, I say that I will not. And I don’t.

I don’t tell anyone.

Being one who is open about her own circumstances does not mean that I am open about others’. I have been likened to a vault.

Frankly, I like the word “safe” better: Because although it is used as a noun, everyone layers the meaning gleaned from the adjective on the image. And that is where my friend’s secrets are kept: safely in a safe (vault).

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