The room is dim and musty. Two shafts of light from milky windows create gentle diagonal beams across the room. As I step forward, I leave footprints in the dust that has lightly coated everything that has laid undisturbed. The walls are lined with rows and rows of old oak drawers salvaged from an abandoned library. They’ve been there for years, some older than others with a new cabinet added every so often in a higgledy piggledy fashion.
I peer through the dim light. I didn’t realize there were so many rows. They each contain a little piece of me, a fragment of my soul, my life. I learned early on to compartmentalise parts of me. It has been a blessing and a curse.
Some drawers are numbered, some labelled clearly, others are blank. A couple are boarded up. I run my fingertips along the face of the drawers, touching the wood, the handles, the gaps in turn. I can almost feel what is inside even with such light contact. There are buzzing sensations and sometimes a patch of cold or heat seeps through the veneer. Memories.
Sounds, smells, celebration, screaming, faces, music, shouting, banging, laughter, pain.
One drawer is missing, another smashed in and another has been burnt out. I think that was the one I stuffed with molten shame. I survey the damage, the splintering of my soul and life into so many pieces. It was self inflicted. I learned early on to compartmentalise parts of me. It has been a blessing and a curse.
I’ve only visited this part of me, this secret crypt on a few occasions and rarely brought anyone with me. Sometimes I unlock the contents of one drawer. Different people knew different pieces, have different access. No one has seen the lot together. Not even me.
I don’t know what will happen if all the contents spill onto the floor together but it’s time to start sorting, time to unlock. I need to sift and sort, keep things that are useful, treasure and nurture some parts, let go of others, throw some things away, and reintegrate the parts into one.
It serves no purpose any more. In my younger years I’d steal away and come to this place to hide myself, to preserve myself. The secret aisle is not full of dark secrets, it is full of light, it’s where all the precious things are hidden. I’d creep in here and hide those parts of me I needed to keep safe, keep from being trampled, squashed or stolen. Many times I made it to this room out of breath, running from footsteps that were chasing me. I’d quickly break out part of my soul, scraping and clawing out all joy and delight, or celebration or wonder, or fragility or tenderness and storing here, slamming the drawer shut with the promise of a later return. I promised myself, while gasping for breath that I’d come back some day, open the drawer, savour the moment, relax and let the joy and fullness of life flow through me like sunshine. Then I was off again, running from the mugger. I had to store myself in pieces. I couldn’t keep my pure essence with me, it was always stolen, stripped from me; fight or no fight.
I’ve wondered recently why I don’t savour or celebrate my successes and why I’m not known. It lead me down to this room of drawers. I’m gradually gaining the courage to open up and look inside.
It will take some remembering.
Re-member-ing. Putting the pieces back together.
That is exactly it – I have been dis-membered, shattered into pieces.
I want to be whole. I want to feel whole. I want to be fully me.