Not knowing stuff

What a way to be reminded of it...

Today I had a conversation with someone who has known a friend of mine for much longer than I have; someone who's lived in New Zealand since I was in... primary school. Since I was a child, basically.

And as we talked, this person said things about our mutual friend that had never even occurred to me, let alone things I would've considered likely. And it... hit me with a hollow sensation in my tummy someplace, to think it possible that someone I care about so deeply would've had such a backstory without me knowing it.

People don't owe other people their stories. It is not my entitlement to know what someone has gone through unless it is shared with me, so what I am feeling is not a disappointment that something has gone by me. Instead it is... sadness, and a relatable connection.

I, too, know what it feels like to move somewhere new where people don't know my backstories and the freedom that comes with it - the freedom to just move on.

Do you know what it feels like?

Moving to a new place means being amongst people who don't, whether they mean to or not, remind about things that don't want to be reminded of. It is not even the direct questions of, "Oh, and how are you feeling now?" - the kind that imply that something unpleasant has happened - but the otherwise encouraging ones, the likes of, "Oh you look so much better now!"

I don't know how you deal with difficult stuff, but I find that I, for a while, shut things away so I can process them on my own. I let thoughts simmer away on the background whilst I move on with life - go on bikerides, hike, wash dishes, cook food - and after enough time has passed that I've had a chance to figure out how it is that I feel about something, only then do I start relating to other people about it without having to endure some kind of a... internal battle every time I talk about it.

But I don't mean that asking is bad, or that people should back off - everyone's free to do as they please. I just want to point out that moving elsewhere, at that point, can be a redeeming experience - a chance to start over without feeling like some old blanket is being dragged around.

And now, today, talking to someone about a friend and learning of a story I had no idea existed, has reminded me about it.

I don't mind that my friend hasn't shared it with me - if they felt that this is what they needed to do, then that's simply what they needed to do - but I do hope that they have found freedom in knowing me without sharing, that they have enjoyed spending time with me without having to bring up a painful past which, I guess, is what they've felt is better left alone.

Life can be... a little simpler like that.

***

Evening light on a patch of freshly planted mint...


...an eel squirming its way through a backyard waterway...


...and quiet backyard after yet another day.


In some ways, life with kids is oh-so-difficult, but in some ways, it is also just very, very... simple.

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