A Secret Life

I have a secret life. There are no illicit affairs or confidential careers. I don’t possess a second family or a well-hidden illness. But, within my own mind, I keep some things tucked away.

I was well past 20 when I fully understood that, no matter how profoundly I loved my partner, we would never actually be the same person. Our love wouldn’t evolve to support telepathic thought-sharing, and we would sometimes disagree not because of miscommunication, but because we fundamentally saw things differently. I could barely believe it. At 24, this was a blow.

If I couldn’t brazenly bare my entire being – recite every nuanced sentence of the poem of my life, no matter how long I talked – if he couldn’t turn his heart inside out for me to discover every little polyp of doubt and burn them away like warts… we would never really be soul mates. How could we ever find our way to each other in the fog of all the things we didn’t know? This realization felt to me like the emotional equivalent of the mythical Catholic modesty sheets: one tiny hole to find my lover through, with all the most beautiful parts wrapped behind a thin but impermeable layer of NO.

But now. How the great world spins. 13 months shy of 30, I treasure my secret life. It is so simple, really. My secret life is the mental equivalent of a little cabin by a lake. In my cabin, I say everything out loud, even when I know I’m being mean-spirited or foolish. I can always correct myself later, because the walls don’t remember. My lake holds the most beautiful fish, and I don’t cast lines for them. I sing to them instead, like a storybook princess, and they rise shining to the surface, my fish of hopes and dreams. They make heavenly meals on the occasions when I do catch them, fully bake them, and bring them into reality to nourish our daily existence… but, in my secret life, their subtle flashing beneath the waves is nourishment enough.

My husband knows me better than anyone ever will. Except my mother. And my best friend. But even they – my trifecta of love – don’t know one definitive version of Jennie. I morph just slightly for each of them.ย  And the metal screw that holds all my angles together as I open and close, like some mathematical compass? It’s buried in the garden of my cabin by the lake. The very center? That’s all mine.

Do you have a secret life?


46 responses to “A Secret Life

  1. Just read this by chance and wanted to say how brilliant and disarmingly true it is. I remember arriving at that realisation of what you describe as ‘the very centre’ and even now feel a slight sense of guilt that no one can or ever will know me entirely but also how intriguing and celebratory that can be. I will be musing on this for the rest of the day!

    • I am so glad you wandered by. I wasn’t sure if anyone would really get it, and you did. I think guilt versus celebration are very good words for looking at it – but I’ve moved past the guilt.

  2. Do I have a secret life? I have many, darling. I think part of what’s great about Mr. Jennie is that he gives you that…. he doesn’t begrudge you that… and that, I think, is part of being a soulmate — allowing that other person their individuality and their space and their own secret world — there’s a great deal of trust that goes into allowing that — I’ve been hurt and find trusting very difficult — I can’t bear secrets. You are very lucky.

    • I’ve never once though of him as Mr. Jennie, but I quite like it. A secret life is OK in our home – because really, you honestly can’t avoid it unless you read minds – but actual secrets? No, we tell each other freaking everything. I’m very glad I can’t hear all his knee-jerk reaction to things I say though, and vice versa. I always thought Bella and Edward would never have made it if he’d been able to get inside her head. (Twilight is JUST LIKE real life, you guys.)

  3. I think of “my secret life” as a room that is in my mind– it’s like an empty cathedral and there is a little table where I sit and all of my thoughts are flying around above me and I’ll just reach up, grab one, and pull it down to the table where I can examine it. No one else is allowed in the room. I’ve always thought of it this way. Great question…

    • Aussa, that’s just beautiful. I’m sort of picturing your thoughts like the flying books in Harry Potter. I have a friend who attends a yoga class where the teacher sometimes asks them to lay down and visualize the room of their heart. She say hers is entirely draped in red velvet and full of couches and soft cushions. I haven’t quite figured out my heart room yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I can relate to this. There was a point when I wanted to just merge with my lover. But now I think it’s good to have some of your own self as separate, too.

  5. Great post! It took me a long time to realize that I wouldn’t be able to convince everyone (including my partner) to see the world the way I see it. That said, I’ve found myself well matched with someone who is as similar to me in viewpoint as I think anyone could be (and who isn’t afraid to challenge me when I’m misguided). What’s interesting is that we come from quite different backgrounds with different perspectives. Over time, we’ve landed somewhere in the middle.

    • Oh, that description of your relationship just made me smile. I’m in much a similar place with J – at first I didn’t know if we’d ever be able to talk politics without someone (generally me) getting red in the face… but we have also come to a comfortable, genuine, middle-understanding. It’s so luscious to have someone you trust with whom you can play with ideas and make a mistake every now and then. It’s sometimes still hard to take when I have to admit that he’s right about something and I need to adjust, but on the other hand it certainly makes me respect my partner, and that’s vital. I’m very happy for you and your person, that you have the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Since the emotional overload of the marathon forced me to post about it in a stream-of-consciousness style, I’ve been having a lot of fun loosening up my traditional format. I think you nailed it… there’s good stuff that lies somewhere between poetry and essays, and I’m trying to find it!

    • Oh, that’s beyond intriguing. Reminds me of a professor I once had, who said the best compliment he ever received was being told that, “He must have a lot of fun inside his own head.”

      Me, I have to share most things, either to enjoy them more fully or get them off my chest.

    • I’m glad you love it! But I want you to keep writing exactly like you. Your posts always make my shoulders relax a little, that’s the best way I can describe it. Except when you write about Scott being in trouble. And then a little devil grin creeps over my face…

  6. Fantastic post. I think it’s all about finding our own path and being true to who we are and who we want to be… and hopefully finding someone who wants to come along for some of the ride. The rest of it is that secret place. That’s where I need to be to write. My girlfriend has many passions that differ from mine and even many of our beliefs don’t match – but so many of our dreams are still the same. I think it works because we care enough about each other to accept our differences, respect each other enough to share our different opinions and trust that we’ll always be there for each other.

    • It sounds like you have a stellar relationship. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes my husband reads one of my blog posts about an adventure we shared, and comments, “It’s like we had two completely different experiences.” And we did, because he’s more practical, and has an amazing memory for details, where I am more emotional, and hold onto how things felt long after I forget exactly who/where/when…

      I think we fit each other well that way, and we don’t get bored. I agree with you completely – being the same person was never a recipe for perfect couple success.

  7. Good lord that’s the perfect explanation of my head. There, tucked away in a little pocket I don’t share with anyone – are my innermost thoughts and what makes me me. I shared everything with a girl once, and she wound up breaking my heart. From that point on I’m in your same cabin by the lake.

    • Rara! That means a lot, coming from you. Your writing is magic. Also, I meant to tell you – your peace friendship bracelet was with me when I crossed the marathon finish line a week ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. This post immediately directed me to “I Love to You” by Luce Irigaray and the chapter of the same name.

    …and also this quote:

    “To love is a personal experience which everyone can only have by and for her/himselfโ€ฆโ€ ~Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

  9. Pingback: This Month’s Jaw-Drop Comments « Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.·

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