The Secret To Secrets
I am good at hearing secrets. I am good at accepting them thoughtfully, like a present someone took a long time to choose. Holding them in my lap with both hands to make sure they don’t fall and break.
It’s not very hard. I can teach you. In fact, it might be even easier than being bad at it. Because it mostly requires you to do nothing. Don’t interject. Don’t try to fix. Don’t judge. Just nod. Tilt your head a little. Say, “Well, that’s not very good at all” or “Hmm.” That’s it. And wait. Wait for more. Don’t ask for it, just wait. Wait for the person to feel out how the story goes. Sometimes, it’s very efficient because they’ve told it (or thought about telling it) many times before. Beginning, middle, end in one big breath. And sometimes, they are stringing it together right then and there and editing as they go and they don’t really even know how they feel about it until they run out of words. Then they cut themselves off or just shrug, shrug, stop. Sometimes, they are peaceful at the end and sometimes angry, as if they too are hearing this for the very first time. And sometimes, they want to twist the lid back on the bottle as quickly as possible, pretend they don’t see all the bits spilled on the floor, just step over and around them and leave you to clean up. It’s not them, it’s not you. It’s the secret. You should remember that. Because they will come back.
They will always come back. If you’re good at this.