Anonymity in Darkness
I tend to be a bit of a mild over sharer.
Nothing particularly bad, but I’ll say things like: “I have to pee” instead of “go to the bathroom”. I almost always keep boundaries pretty well—my mom’s social skills lessons haven’t been forgotten—but, every once in a while, I find myself divulging things that I normally wouldn’t. No, it’s not because I’ve (casually) had 4 glasses of wine and no, it’s not because I’m ignoring the social expectations of where I am. Everything I say is something I would share with my best friends… I just happen to be sharing it with someone who definitely isn’t one of them. I find security in the anonymity of darkness.
Much in the same way that people become candid and more honest when they’re anonymous on the internet—although, that is usually detrimental and antagonistic—I often find myself saying things I wouldn’t normally say, simply because I lose my sense of preservatory silence. I’m not bold or brave enough to explain what I talk about but after my last chat-in-the-night the girl I divulged some personal stories which I don’t typically share, said something to the effect of: “That makes me sad; I would never think that you had something like that in your life. You’re so happy”.
Cue me with an instant pang of regret and utter terror at having pushed some boundaries a little further than I’d anticipated or ever wanted to. I like to save face if I can: there are some things I just don’t want people to know about. How is it that I, despite all of my innate desire for civility and wall-building, have suddenly explained some intricate details of my core? Damn you, darkness! Why are you so soothing?
Is it because I can’t see the eyes of the people I’m looking at?
I remember reading a book in grade school called The Face on the Milk Carton, a story about a girl who is abducted as a child and finds her own face on a milk carton once she’s in her teens. The character has a boyfriend who works at a local radio station and, in the middle of the night, he tells the story over her unfolding drama. When she find out, she’s understandably devastated and angry, but he makes the point that he forgot that other people were listening on the other side of the airwaves. That is exactly what happens to me.
As I talk about the things in my life and my past I forget there is someone else there listening. I am more telling it to myself –talking it out– and trying to let go of what has dictated the person I’ve become. I feel a little bit bad knowing that these conversations are primarily one-sided. How arrogant to think that someone wants to hear about the intricacies of my life, particularly since I’ve roped them into it unknowingly. I realize, if it really came down to it, they could leave the conversation—I wouldn’t stop them—but they never do. Sometimes people really surprise me.
Darkness is a wonderful safety net.
Unlike most, who fear it, I find great calm in the invisibility that comes with the blindness of night. I also prefer to be a listener when it’s dark. As soon as I am out of the sight of my conversation partner, I find that I become a better communicator: when I speak, it is more honest and candid; when I listen it is more intently; when I respond, it is with real, intentionally chosen words. You know, when you hinder one of your senses, how the others are magnified? That is what happens when I get into any in-depth conversation in the darkness.
I would like to be able to have all of my important conversations, with all of the important people in my life, in the darkness. Just think of how effective they would be! How much stronger our relationships would be and how much confidence we would gain in expressing ourselves. With each night and moment of starry-skied conversation the little things we fear discussing would melt into nothingness and real lines of communication would continue to open until, even on the brightest of days, we could converse without fear of our articulations, the perception of the person were talking to, and the honesty we so vitally need to express.