I caught up with an acquaintance on Friday night for a drink at Trunk. I guess I’ve known him for about 7-8 years now, and catch up a couple of times a year. He’s a nice bloke and a handy person to know.
In any case, our conversation followed the usual pattern at first. It was a balmy night, and we sat outdoors in the beer garden amid a crowd of people celebrating the end of the week. We sipped on a few pints, catching up on our news and other, work-related, topics.
At some point in the evening, something tipped over. I’d no intention of sharing my story with him, but the conversation had become more candid, and I found myself telling him how I had become homeless, slowly at first, in fragments, which as his curiosity piqued and my confidence grew became more fluent and coherent. Of course, he was surprised, but accepting of it. Like others there came grudging respect, the acknowledgement that obviously I had come through the far side of it.
It’s still not easy telling the story, but not nearly as forbidding as once it was. Once more I found as I relayed the story, it felt as if I was shifting a small burden from me. To hold a secret like that feels dishonest – as if you are presenting a false tale to the world. To correct the record is a release. There’s a sense of relaxing once it has been done, the dice rolled. There is nothing more hidden. This is me, take it or leave it.
Then, as so often seems the case now, he opened up to me. He admitted that a few years before he had been declared bankrupt. It was news I would never have guessed at, and once more I wondered how much of the people about us do we really know? I was glad he told me, and I suspect, for much the same reasons as me, that he was glad to share it.
How much easier, in the end, is it to be open and transparent? Hard in concept, but easier than you think – and more true.