(as opposed to “post secrets”)
You’re likely familiar with the now famous “Post Secrets“ site and books, as well as the “Experience Project“ where you can confess your sins, silly and serious, share your sexual proclivities, silly and serious, and risk much more personal disclosure in wonderful privacy and anonymity. We are drawn (voyeuristically and otherwise) to hearing the nakedly honest bits; things which are so often much more interesting than what we normally hear from each other at work.
These seem to have replaced the confessional booth (also available online), and perhaps there is something quite positive to be said for the honest transparency this invites. In the end however, there seems just too much pain, and not enough resolution. Too much isolation, and not enough support, understanding and love. What jumps out most is loneliness.
Years before you could write your pain with descriptive detail into online “contact us” forms, the eminent psychiatrist, Dr. Hans Strupp (1921-2006) discovered these three secrets.
To the question, “What would you be ashamed for others to know about you?” …thousands answered (anonymously), and these responses came up as the top three:
1. I feel completely inadequate, and utterly alone.
2. I cannot enter into a deeply loving relationship, where I really care for someone else the way I want to.
3. I can’t tell anyone my most shameful secret. (Typically a sexual secret).
The Experience Project invites us to “anonymously connect and share with others just like you.” But of course, how much “connection” can we really experience when no one can reach back, look us in the eye, listen and talk back?
Strupp’s findings are startling, but of course, they strike a chord in us as well. The second response; the desire to love and to care for someone else reminds us that we want to give ourselves away, as much as to be loved back. Relationship, dialogue, interest, kindness and acceptance; these (and more) are what we hunger for.
But in the midst of our busy and often people-filled days, we can of course feel any or all of the three “secrets” Strupp discovered.
A PRIVATE AFFAIR is in part an invitation and opportunity to disclose yearnings, questions, secrets, passions, fears and fantasies, etc.
Show your partner these three secrets, and ask them to share with you when in their life they have most felt any (or all) of these secrets of inadequacy, poverty or shame.
Consider disclosing to each other things you haven’t before shared. This could be something old and now resolved, or something you’re wrestling with at the moment.
Someone suggested that “A Private Affair” was like “emotional bungee jumping! …risky, but exciting, knowing that ultimately we we’re safe to jump… and that we really want to try this together!”
“We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.” – Robert Frost (1875-1963)