Tuesday, April 12, 2011
On our recent vacation, I got a chance to visit with one of my best friends from college days. This is the girl who picked me up when my pre-med spirits were low, and helped me to keep marching forwards toward our goal. She has stamina, intelligence, determination, and goodness in spades. She is also now a doctor with two little ones. It was wonderful to see her after years apart.
Our conversation turned to the difficulty of those residency years. Specifically, some of the darkest nights where extreme sleep deprivation threatened sanity.
She said, “I remember one night thinking….” and then she divulged one of those secret thoughts that you could only say to someone who’s been right where you have been, and understands your state of mind when thinking such thoughts.
“I remember thinking the exact same thing one night,” I said.
“Did you ever tell anyone?”
And it got me thinking about secrets.
How when we talk about secrets, it often sounds like a dirty word. It connotes past mistakes or sins that you wouldn’t want the world to see because they are shameful. Or it connotes a person keeping something from someone that they probably should make known.
But it occurred to me that there are a different kind of secrets--secrets that might even be healthy to keep for a time or for always. These are the secrets hidden in a chamber of our souls, where I think it’s important that we keep a few things to ourselves. To ourselves and God. A place where we can grant a certain amnesty over our thoughts while we piece them together.
I should note that in general, I am very open. I process my thoughts by dialoguing, so there’s not much that Rockstar and my closest friends/family aren’t privy to.
But still sometimes, I think we all have the need to keep things close until we’ve worked them out in our minds.
There can be many things in this secret part of ourselves. There are many things in mine:
There are the things I’m not brave enough to share with the world—ideas, theories—that need time to germinate until they are ready to make their way into the open.
There are the thoughts I might not want someone to know I’ve thought. Because they don’t last long enough to become part of me, I don’t feel shameful for having thought them. But if they were said out loud, they’d become part of a more permanent record that they don’t merit.
There are the secret thoughts born of desperation or fatigue that you know you won’t hold onto, but seem cathartic to think, even for a second.
Some secrets stay inside until you find a key in someone you trust and has a shared experience—a mom, a fellow doctor.
Some are desires or dreams that seem too sacred to speak until the time is right.
Disappointments. Goals. Silliness. Whatever needs to be there. Always shifting as some secrets become shared and others disappear.
There is something powerful and necessary about keeping a little part of my thoughts just for me. A place where I can work things out. A place where I can better understand myself. A place where no one can judge.
So what did my friend and I discuss that we’d thought on one of those long, long residency nights?
Well now, that’s just our little secret.