You’ve Never Known a Person In Your Life

know a personWe like to think we know those closest to us, but do we really?  Do you ever really know someone, anyone?

I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday, and I noticed this girl I haven’t seen in years.  She was a friend of an old girlfriend, and back in college was what I’d call a definite frat groupie – the type of girl that goes to every frat function, knows every frat dude, and slowly works her way through the house over the course of her 4 years; the kind tossed from dude to dude in the house – always a hanger-on, always there; as if she were cooler or finally valuable for being a part of their world, or allowed in their circle.

It’s been a few years since then, and I saw now that she’s engaged.

Pictures of them smiling, and laughing, and kissing.  Comments from family and friends wishing them well and happiness.

Congratulations all around – for a life together, forever.

Except, that it brought to mind a story my old girlfriend had told me back then, when this girl too was in my life – of how one night, at a party not too different than the kind we all went to at the time – she found her in the corner – with a couple frat losers bent over her, snorting coke of her chest.

I remember shrugging

It didn’t surprise me.

Probably not the craziest thing she’s done.  Probably not by a long shot.  Probably not the only thing she won’t be telling her kids one day.

And so looking at the pictures I couldn’t help but wonder…

Does he know?

Will he ever?


Maybe it doesn’t matter.

You don’t marry someone’s past after all.  You marry them.  As they are.  As they say or claim to be.

Except that none of us are divorced from our pasts.  None of us are not shaped by them, haunted by them.

And for most, we’re un-changed from them – at our deepest.  At our cores.

So maybe it doesn’t matter.

Maybe she’s different.  Maybe she’s changed.  Maybe that’s not who she is, and most definitely not who he knows.

But maybe that’s just not who she’s shown him.

Maybe it’s just a matter of time – 10 months from now, 10 years from now – when he comes home and finds her with someone else, driven slowly away – not by any particular thing or any big thing – but simply by the usual pressures, and usual injuries of a relationship, until she can’t stand it anymore.

And does what he’d never think she could do; never imagine she could do to him.

And on that day, what would he give to have known who she really is, and what’s she’s really done?

What would he give to have known her?

I see it a lot actually

I see it all the time.

That we all have some part of us that we keep to ourselves.  Some part that’s most ourselves – that no one sees.

We hide it maybe.

We avoid it maybe.

We protect it probably.

From all who would know it and reject it.  From all who would know it and not approve of it.

For better or worse I don’t know.

Maybe there’s some part of us – some amount of us – we need to keep ours and ours alone; that part that makes us seem different from the billions of others.

But it means we might meet thousands of people in our life, and yet not truly meet a single one of them.

Not the real them.

And actually, that’s a scary thought.

Because over the course of a lifetime there are people we will come to depend upon; whose trust we’ll count on, whose support we’ll assume; whose love we’ll need.

And yet…we don’t know.

We don’t know what they’ll do, or what they’ll be.

We don’t know them.

But then…

…you never really know a person.

You never really know the totality of someone’s past.

Nor can you predict with certainty the entirety of their future.

You can never “know” a person – if “knowing” them means understanding them well enough to simply predict who they will be and how they will act from this moment to the next.  Cause the next is just a choice.  And no matter how well you “know” someone, or how much time you’ve spent with them, what you can never know is what their next choice will be.

Whether it be for you or against you.

What they’ll be.

Who they’ll be.

So…does he know she once let dudes snort drugs off her tits?

Probably not.  Unless he was one of them.  In which case maybe they’re perfect for each other.

I’d bet, though, that he doesn’t.

I’d bet that that’s never come up.

And so who knows how it’ll turn out.

Not me.  And not him.

But good luck to them.

Good luck to him.

In a year they’ll marry.

Over the course of their life, they may never meet.


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3 Responses to You’ve Never Known a Person In Your Life

  1. downfromtheledge says:

    It’s kind of a terrifying prospect, isn’t it? Makes the world seem so insecure.

    I have wondered, at times, if potential partners should really come with a resume and references (which of course would be doctored to only include what said people want us to see). Wouldn’t it be mind-boggling to know the intricacies of a person the way another has…

    And of course, this post makes me reflect on all the things I keep hidden. I don’t want to figure out how or whether to tell somebody someday about the “lost years” of my life where I was barely hanging on. That would be super fucking attractive to a man, I’m sure.

    All this shit that we fear renders us unworthy of love. Cuz the truth is, many people probably wouldn’t like our pasts, our choices, our old selves. And maybe it really ISN’T our old selves, like you point out….it’s a part of who we are, like it or not.

    I am so behind on my reading, but I know every time I come here it’ll be another hard-hitting post that cuts through the bs.

    • Adam Austyn says:

      Yeah not great first date material, right? But it’s the type of stuff you’d want to know, and want them to know, eventhough you don’t really. God knows I have my own stuff too.

  2. Carlos Lewis says:

    This thought is one that I too have thought. Can you really know someone? No. Not truly. For many reasons along with the ones you talked about. But as you said, we do come to depend or even expect things from the parts of the person we have seen. But then we are never truly given the opportunity to depend on the “real” person.
    Very good article. Thanks for sharing.

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