Saturday, February 4, 2012


It was a few nights ago at dinner. My mom, my dad, Sarah and I sat around the table, eating {or in Sarah’s case, picking at} barbeque chicken and talking about nothing.

I’m not sure how it came up or why I latched onto it, but suddenly the conversation turned to the concept of Openness.

I snorted a little, which made my dad look at me expectantly, paying attention to whatever it was I was going to say. I hadn’t planned to say anything, but he looked so eager to understand me that I reluctantly replied, “I’m not a very, um, open person.”

And I put this smile on. It’s not a real smile, but it’s not a completely wooden one either. It’s an expression I’ve began to notice more lately, the mask I put on when I tuck my heart away but want to look lighthearted. It’s all in the corners of my mouth and my eyes.

But Daddy didn’t exactly drop it. I guess I hadn’t expected him to.

“Why not?” he asked genuinely.

I shrugged. “My friends don’t have deep things to share,” I said. “I mean, Kirsten is brilliant and Cassidy is great, but it’s not like they’d have anything really helpful to say if I bared my soul. So why bother?”

“It’s not all about what they can tell you,” Daddy said. “Sometimes it’s the process of putting something out in the open so that YOU can deal with it.”

“That’s what I have Jordan and Aaron for,” I told him, trying to go back to my chicken. “Plus, if all I’m going to do is deal with it on my own, why should I risk the judgment of opening up?”

“Because you’re missing out on deep friendships that way,” Daddy said, his eyes very deep and serious and focused. “You are missing out.”

“No, I’m not,” I insisted. “I told you. I DO open up, just not…not to people that I actually SEE.” Daddy tilted his head and I knew I’d have to explain more, so I went on. “It’s easier that way, Daddy. I get all the benefits of openness that you’re talking about without any of the judgmental awkwardness that inevitably follows.”

But inside, gears were turning in my head. I had never thought about this before. I knew I was much, much closer to people that I didn’t come in physical contact with, but WHY…? That had never crossed my mind really.

Now that I thought about it, it DID seem sort of like…cheating. I mean, I truly loved and trusted Aaron and Jordan every bit as much as my "real" friends, but... Was I getting the benefits of deep friendship without taking any risks? It didn’t seem completely right.

“Well, you just have to decide if it’s worth the risk of opening up,” Daddy said.

“It’s not,” I said immediately. “People would never look at me the same.”

“Then you must not have very good friends,” he said pointedly, knowing that would get to me because it definitely ISN’T TRUE.

But the fact is, he just doesn’t know the wealth of garbage that dwells in my soul. He thinks I’m strong and iron-moral’d and perfect. He thinks girls don’t deal with pornography or erotica or anything physical like that. He’s told me before, that “if we had boys,” they would put parental controls on the computers and stuff. Like sexual perversion is strictly a male issue.

Well, it’s not, Dad.

And probably Kirsten and Cassidy would understand that. They wouldn’t hate me or shun me or think I was the anti-Christ {not at all that my dad WOULD}. I guess it’s not exactly their “judgment” that I fear, it’s their…their sympathy, their pity, their encouragement even.

I don’t want them looking sideways at me during certain movie scenes. I don’t want them saying, “Um, maybe we shouldn’t watch this episode…” I don’t want them to make uncomfortable or judgmental connections to the characters or stories that I like or don’t like—especially when they would be right.

In the end it’s not the act of “opening up” that I’m opposed to; it’s the fact that if people knew about me, they would look at me differently. They would SEE me. They would KNOW.

Friends that I don’t see in real life can’t do that, because they, um, don’t see me in real life.

What I do definitely seems like cheating. However, I’m not sure how much difference it actually makes. Am I really MISSING any of the friendship depth and sorting things out, or have I just figured out a risk-free way to have those things?

I’m not sure. But I admit, I’m getting tired of having an elephant in the room that only I can see.



  1. Maybe it is time your parents start to realize that daughters are people too. and no, I do not think it is cheating. It is simply a way to connect to people. It does not make it any less of a true friendship.

  2. I don't think internet friendships are cheating but they are definitely easier, and to a degree more shallow. I've had friends open up to me but I rarely open up to them.

    Is it necessary to open up to real life friends? I don't know. Perhaps if your problem was dragging you down then I would say yes, pity looks and all. What makes you think they'd look sideways at your forever? Sure they would for a while as they absorb this new fact about you but it couldn't go on indefinitely, and I'm sure at least half of those looks would be imagined.

    You've said before a few people know about your struggle, including your mom. Do they look at you differently? She must have been thinking the same thing as you during dinner.

    When you say "I don’t want them to make uncomfortable or judgmental connections to the characters or stories that I like or don’t like—especially when they would be right." I think you'd see the connections way easier than they would.

    I'm not one to talk because as a guy we don't have meaningful friendships (:p) and because I seldom open up anyway. I don't even do it online.

  3. Jamie: Maybe you're right. It still feels sort of cowardly though. Hm. I'm still thinking about it.

    Jay: Do you ever wish that you did open up? I hate doing it, but I also know that some part of me is just dying to be pried free and open.

    I don't know if it's necessary either. I do know that God created us as social creatures who need fellowship, so I think it's necessary for us to open up to SOME people.

    About the sideways looks, you're probably right. They probably would get over it, and I'm sure I'm much more sensitive to the connotations than they are.

    I'm sure my mom was thinking about the same thing. It was a little awkward, haha.

    Guys are missing out then. I hate opening up, I'm not good at it, I don't do it enough, but I can tell you for certain than deep friendships are what have gotten me through things that I could never have come through alone.


  4. Honestly? Yes, I wish I opened up more. I have loyal friends, but only two of them are what I would call deep friendships, and between those two I've opened up about different things. One was more about families and relationships, and the other was about girls (not the same as relationships) and other matters where I knew we were similar in thought. But I compartmentalized and didn't share the same things with both of them.

    You said part of you is dying to be pried free and open. I can understand that, and it's weird to want it and be afraid of it. But Pandora is you willingly opening yourself up...with a safety net. Maybe that's all you need. What's on your list that qualifies as 'opening yourself up?' If erotica is the only thing, is it really necessary for other people to know? Or do you just mean being more open in general? Randomly revealing some personal problem or thought, to me anyway, isn't meaningfully opening up.

    And yes you're right, opening up to some people, only those who deserve the trust.

  5. You know, I'm really not good at opening up, either. But I WANT to be. Relationships through the internet and whatnot can be great. My relationship with one of my best friends has been based through technology. But there's something to be said of sharing life with people IN PERSON, face-to-face. At my church this morning, my pastor was actually talking about this connectedness. We were created to have that. He shared some awesome quotes:
    "He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    "If we have no peace, we have forgotten that we belong to each other." -Mother Theresa

    I think that a lot of my personal restlessness and worries and stress are generated because I don't open up and connect with people. I feel like almost everyone is like this, though. Everyone is so afraid or averse to actually opening up about their struggles, and so we're all bound, alone. That doesn't mean we should just go around spouting our problems to everyone we meet, haha, but I think we would find a lot more peace and freedom if we found at least a few people we loved and trusted, and who loved and trusted us, and just shared.
    I don't know. Just my initial thoughts.

  6. I found this post like crazy, given recent events. Like, wow. I don't know if i will ever get over it. I could've written this post.