Junk Drawers

“You need to process it.”

These words from my supervisor keep running through my head. In social work, there is an emphasis on self-reflection, which was always something I thought I did well. I am in stuck in my head enough of the time after all.

Dictonary.com defines process as “perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it.” This reminds me of all of the research data I’ve processed over the years. Results from surveys, interviews, genetic testing, and measures of brain waves. The amount of raw data is too much for our minds to absorb and too much to analyze. And so, we do our best to take those and mold them into a form which can be used for research. But oftentimes, we collect more than we can use and don’t process it right away. And then, we need to go back and retrace what all the numbers in the computer mean. No matter how well we think we’ve documented it, it’s always a chore to have to go back and figure out exactly what it means.

This semester, we studied Bowen’s family systems theory. For my midterm paper, I had to try to apply this theory to my life. So, I spent time in my head, trying to retrieve memories from my childhood and young adulthood. In doing so, I realized how much I never really processed. Instead, it’s like I shoved things into a junk drawer to sort out later but never got back to it. And so, I now have a junk room. We often think of doing this with the painful memories, but what I’m learning is that sometimes the beautiful memories get shoved in there too.

This reminded me of this Facebook status from 3 years ago:

I feel like I might finally be starting to clean out that room from my dream. I’ve started to search through those memories – pictures, journals, songs to help bring memories to life– and am working to process it all. Friends help too, reminding us of who we were and are – things I’ve forgotten about me. It’s hard. Both good and bad feelings coming up to the surface all at once. And feelings are hard for me, so sometimes I want to just shove things back into the drawer instead of working through them.  But then, that hope that I saw in that room will never be realized. And so, for now, I’ll sit in this uncomfortable place, working towards the beauty.

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