I’ve always been really good at compartmentalizing. As a child, I learned to tuck all of my problems neatly into a box and focus on schoolwork. My brother might be in the hospital or my dad in rehab, but I had homework to do. And that, that I could control. That I could do. And so, I tucked the rest away and focused on what I could. In some ways, this worked for me. In others, it didn’t.

In January, I had to write a paper for school about Bowen family systems theory. Through this, I realized that I had a tendency to cut myself off emotionally. This process was hard but somehow, I needed to dig deeper. I needed to know more.

And so, I slowly began to dig out those the boxes. Boxes I had so neatly tucked away deep into my mind. I dug out piles and piles of things I had forgotten.  Taking it out, examining it, deciding what to make of it.

And as I did so, I was reminded of a dream from long before this journey started. This dream tried to remind me of the presence of these boxes, in the form of a house with a forgotten room. No – many forgotten rooms, a kitchen, a living room full of clutter and my favorite, an enormous room lined with windows, windows that seemed to let the whole world in. This room had hope and potential, a sharp contrast to those ugly boxes I had tucked away.

You see, in these boxes, I was finding parts of me I had lost, some treasures, some junk:

Memories that I never managed to make sense of

Angry music I used to listen to

Bad choices made along the way, things I wish I could forget

Words written by and to me, reminding me of who I was and just maybe who I am

Curiosity tucked away for fear of where it would lead me

So much time gone by

And now, I sit. In a room with these boxes emptied out around me. Trying to make sense of what’s there. Trying to figure out what is worth keeping and what I need to let go.

And how peculiar the backdrop to this inner work. The world outside is hardly recognizable, mirroring the inside of my mind. And I try to remember what once was both inside and out. Both worlds in chaos, all being made new, not sure where I’ll wind up. I’m just hoping to find that beautiful room, lined with windows that let in the light.

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