html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I've been reading your diary.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I've been reading your diary.

Back when I was about to finish first graduate school and things were squirrelly with my then-boyfriend, I had decisions to make about cities and jobs and him. I moped around my department until my irrigation professor asked me what was up. I had the sense not to tell him the detailed analysis, ‘cause God knows he wasn’t interested in his students’ relationship problems. But I had launched into a quick version when he interrupted me with “Yes, well. You have imperfect choices in an uncertain world.” Imperfect choices in an uncertain world?! Yes, that was exactly it. I wasn’t going to find a perfect choice and I wouldn’t know the odds in advance. I was instantly relieved of a hunt for the one right option. I’ve reminded myself of that many times.

He did it again this summer. One of the districts we toured is incredibly politically connected and secretive. I was stunned that I was allowed along (he is a Grand Old Man, and simply included me without asking them), but I sure didn’t ask any questions until the tour was over. At the end of the day, I said how grateful I was and how amazed that they hadn’t refused to let me see their secrets. “Secrets?” He said. “They don’t have any secrets. They can’t manage their canals and don’t know where their operational spill goes. They’re all like that. There is no secret.”

I’ve been working on that idea since and I think he is right. Your secrets aren’t secrets. If you don’t want to be single, it is not a secret that you are lonely and afraid you won’t find your beloved, no matter how sparkly you act. If you want kids and you are thirty-five, it is not a secret that you are scared you will miss your chance. Those aren’t secrets. In fact, I know your secrets and I’m going to tell everyone. Are you ready?

The shape of your body isn’t one that someone will love.
You aren’t pretty enough to be loved.
You aren’t doing enough at work.
You aren’t smart enough and people are about to find out.
Your relationship with your parents is rocky and frustrates and hurts you.
You are jealous that a friend you otherwise love has something you don't.
The way you like sex isn’t the right way.
You were sexually assaulted.
You were mean to someone who didn’t deserve it.
Your romantic relationship has rough patches and you don’t know if you can handle them.
You aren't over someone.
You aren’t managing your money well.
You need to hear the person you love say that you are beautiful.
You want, so much, for your parents to be proud of you.
You have a crush on someone.
You need help you don’t want to ask for.
Your body has done gross things.
You hurt and drugs and alcohol help.
You are ashamed of how you acted that time.
It takes so much out of you to be a good parent.

Friends, if those are your secrets, they are not secrets. We know. In fact, I just told the whole internets. Maybe keeping that secret covered is getting harder and keeping you from getting close with people who want to love and help you. Maybe you should go tell them yourself, before they find this and figure out that I’m talking about you. Maybe it would do you good to say them out loud.


Blogger grant said...

crap, if you would have posted this a day ago I might have had a much nicer night out last night.

anyway, you hit it right on the noggin, or my noggin anyway.

always hiding in plain sight

5:16 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey sugar. You're doing great. You'll have other nice nights out.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I thought you wouldn't tell anyone.

Thanks, friend. On behalf of all of us.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your body has done gross things.

Does anyone's body not do gross things?

Iron Rails & Iron Weights

7:24 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...


Best! Post! Ever!

Am I to understand your body does gross things, Peter? I had wondered who she was talking about.

I don't know that it necessarily does the holder any good to tell some or most of these, though. Especially about Peter's gross bodily functions. But perhaps he feels better, now.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

I think it's important to know that bad people know your secrets, too, not just good people who want to help you.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of these days you are going to write a great book.

And I'm not talking about the saga of rural sewer policy, as engrossing as that may be.

Maybe an enlightened literary agent will stumble across this blog and you will be transformed into the voice of your generation...


ps. some of your readers are secretly in love with you.

...but you already knew that.

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You aren’t doing enough at work."

Well, this one must have been fairly easy to figure out, seeing as I read your blog everyday around 10AM.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And while we're on the subject, here are some other secrets:

This site is perhaps the most life-affirming but also frightening on the Internets.

6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand.
I don't understand why Justin hasn't commented on this post!

12:41 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin tells us his secrets. He is already enlightened.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another secret:

You hear praise and you don't want to have to live up to it.

Great post.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, people were missing me.

I've been busy at work.


3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS you forgot mine: "I will run out of things to say and conversation will be boring and i'll make mention of weather conditions and then we'll look at each other but not in the 'lets make like bunny rabbits' way and then i'll walk off and be sad.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

or even worse "why are you talking to us."

8:13 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How many of these are supposed to apply? 'Cuz my checklist is no, no, no, no, no, no, no, sort of, no, no, sort of, he does, they are, is it still a crush if it's requited?, no, every day!, no, lol yes, no sprog thank goodness. I guess I am short on deep dark secrets.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Everyone knows your secrets if they're paying attention, not too caught up in trying to hide their own secrets.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahem, Ms. Passey, but sort of is an unusual (and unusually nonchalant) agreement to give to the statement, "You were sexually assaulted."

1:35 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Nope. There is a huge grey area for sexual assault, and some sexual assaults really suck at the time but don't end up being a big deal in someone's life.

I am saying, very strongly, that it is up to Ms. Passey to characterize it in the way that fits her circumstances and to accord it the degree of nonchalance she thinks is appropriate.

If you are going to be talking about stuff that is this potentially sensitive, sign your name and own your words.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. It seemed a bit ... dismissive to me. But upon further consideration, I can see it from your point of view.

Although I always sign my name to actual criticism, I infrequently choose to avoid identification to sensitive topics, especially sexual ones.

-- Spungen (bailing out now, please)

2:35 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Let's totally bail out now. I'm so with you on that. Thanks for signing your name, though.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

I'm wondering, is there a particular anonymous comments policy of which I should be aware? It seems that various bloggers have differing ideas regarding when, if ever, they are appropriate.

Personally, I believe the only time anonymous sourcing is unethical is when it's done to be deceptive. For instance, when it is done to falsely make it appear there is more support for a viewpoint than in fact exists. Or, when it is done as an end run around an anticipated distrust or discounting of the true source.

People have varying degrees of comfort with making themselves known on the Internet, often due to valid concerns with personal or professional lives. I would prefer to receive information anonymously than not at all.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know if the boy knew that the pot he gave me to smoke was laced (without my knowledge) with PCP, or what happened during my drug-induced memory blackout.

(Remember, kids: Drugs are bad, mmmkay? :D)

Legally it was date rape, but without knowing his intent I'm not completely comfortable characterizing him as a rapist.

Anyhow it was 13 years ago and I'm over it.

9:25 PM  
Blogger educand - said...

I would add, "You have some kind of illness or disability and think people wouldn't know how to act around you if they knew about it."

I'm not saying that's necessarily my own secret (although I do suffer from an anxiety disorder that fits the above), but I remember seeing the awkwardness of people I've known about revealing a cancer diagnosis, for example.

Nevertheless, this is a really insightful post, and I enjoyed reading it.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Ralph said...

I have this post saved as a favorite, and whenever I think I have everyone fooled, I re-read it. Whether all the statements apply to me personally, your conclusion and sentiment are so true. Thank you for this.

8:21 AM  

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