Tristan gave me no real answers as to why he left me, no real explanations.
For that, I turned — ever the cliche Silicon Valley single girl — to the anonymous app Secret. The app connects to users’ cell phone contacts, and people post their inner thoughts “anonymishly.” A post is flagged “friend” or “friend of friend,” so with enough sleuthing work you can guess who wrote it. In other words, the app is crack for someone who just got dumped.
Secret had been skyrocketing in hype in recent months, but I hadn’t spent much time with it. Before Tristan and I broke up, I didn’t need a place to share secrets and confessions. I had him for that.
He used Secret long before me, ever the early adopter. He posted a message the night he met me, ‘I wanted you the moment you walked in the door.’ Much to his annoyance, I hadn’t seen it — he had to tell me about it later.
Naturally, when things fell apart, I turned to Secret for answers. I hoped he’d leave clues to answer the ever pressing question: What the fuck happened?
Combing an app for reasons why your boyfriend dumped you isn’t exactly behavior I’m proud of. But hey — I grew up in the Facebook generation. Using social networking to live in the past instead of the present is kind of my jam.
Secret was simply the newest, most intriguing technology to allow me to do so. For those of you who haven’t tried it, let me forewarn you. The app encompasses what everyone hates about social networking: The narcissism, the fake performances, the sharing of the banal and mundane. But it encompasses the best of it too. It meets the fundamental human need to express your story and hear the stories of others.
Or at least, that’s what I told myself. I needed some rationalization for spending hours of my life surfing the app for Tristan-related secrets.
The James Vincent McMorrow song lyric, “I remember my first love,” posted a week after our breakup, was the first crumb he left for me. It was flagged, in Secret’s subtle little text, as written by a “friend.” In all my naivety I read it as an apology when it was actually a good-bye. Soon afterwards, another woman appeared on his Instagram and Facebook feeds, surrounded in emoticon hearts.
In a warped way, the app became more important then. I screenshotted secrets about relationships, wondering whether they were from him, returning to them like wimpy talismans against loneliness. A detective on the hunt. I found scraps and tidbits.
There was the post with the all red background, “Can’t wait to see her again. As a friend.” A comment under a post, “I’m not the one that’s going to take care of her the way she needed and deserved to be treated.” A third, “I truly miss you. Our story sucks and I apologize for making it so.” Were these meant for me?
My obsessive behavior sounds crazy, and it was. It sounds obsessive, and it was. It sounds stupid and embarrassing and undignified and it was. In fact, it was something I’d rather not admit to. My Secret stalking addiction was a secret.
But anyone who has had their heart broken quickly and without explanation can understand the need for answers. Without answers as to why, how can you ensure it won’t happen again?
After awhile, it didn’t matter whether the Secrets and comments posted were from him. Without any way to know, I could own all the vaguely worded apologies to past lovers. I licked my wounds with the reassurances of strangers. Heartbreak in the social anonymity age.
Eventually, the inevitable happened. I got over him. I stopped looking for explanations and let the Secret feed slide by me, using it for procrastination or amusement when the mood struck. I started dating again. I drank less. I went running and ate my vegetables. I pondered signing up for something exotic like bellydancing or sailing class. I didn’t actually sign up of course, that would be a little too Eat-Pray-Love for my cynical sensibilities.
But I didn’t forget him entirely. On Secret, I posted little breadcrumbs for him too, in case he was watching. I said things like, ‘Heartbreak has been great for my health.’ I flirted with the anonymous commenters who asked me on dates. I shamelessly performed the same social networking rituals that I had on places like Facebook and Instagram in previous eras of my life. I flaunted my newfound confidence and self-esteem, with one eye peeking to see if he was watching. Classy? Nope. Something I’m proud of? Nada. I suppose it’s a phase one must go through before truly sticking the past where it belongs.
Then, finally, I arrived where I am today. Largely unconcerned about Tristan’s existence and whereabouts. Posting secrets on the app for myself. Not because I hope he’ll see them. I spend a hell of a lot less time with Secret now. It’s healthier behavior.
I look forward to the day Tristan and I reconnect in person. Maybe then I can ask him out of curiosity, without desperation: Did you ever post any more secrets about me?
This is the first post in Secret Stories – first person accounts from our community, told anonymously of course. Today’s post comes from Red Heart.
If you’d like to share your Secret Story and be featured on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org