There’s a story of mine that has gone untold for almost 20 years.
A repressed moment that broke through my tender memory while making breakfast.
A padded room.
I was 14 and the most angry I’ve ever been in my life.
I spent time in a padded room when I was 14. No, there aren’t straight jackets like there are in the movies – at least, not where I was.
This padded room, in all its stark whiteness and too bright lights was a place to go when the world felt too overwhelming – when emotions teemed over and were uncontrollable.
I spent hours in there until I asked to be let out. They always let me out.
Those hours I spent tucked into myself with so much self-hatred and disappointment. I had built so many walls around me, a fortress so large I couldn’t even break myself out of. The padded room felt like another level of security from me and a brain I couldn’t control.
A prison of my own creation and I was content to stay in that place until the pain I felt slowly faded from my body.
I have a friend who used to say that the wall I built around myself was as vast as The Great Wall of China, but once I let people in – those who stayed, that it was so beautiful to know me.
I spent years hiding away from people – in a prison of my thoughts that swirled until it all so heavy I chose outlets to numb the weight of the world I carried with me.
I sacrificed parts of myself to feed a beast of my own creation. I didn’t know how to stop it and for many years, I didn’t want to.
The heaviness, the darkness was all I knew – a comfort over time and a tool to keep people at a distance.
A padded room could never ease the heaviness I felt and I’ve carried that knowledge within me for almost 20 years.
I can lock myself away in a small, white room under the pretense it will make me feel better, but I can’t escape what i have created.
But I can sure as hell knock down walls along the way.
I took a sledgehammer to all the anger, the despair and the darkness that held me its clutches and shattered it all. Broke everything into pieces in the hope that I could start again.
And I did.
However, I’ve been rooted to the same spot for years; standing among all my broken pieces and not cleaning up my own mess.
I started anew without acknowledging all I had been through. I stopped feeding the beast, but it was always there – dormant and waiting for me to finally unlock that part of myself again and the sacrifices I had made.
I presented a pretty package of myself for so long – a personality catered to whomever I was around that I built different walls up around myself.
I never wanted anyone to truly know me.
I felt that no one should. I wasn’t worthy of their kindness, their love.
And I still carry a lot of walls around myself. It’s heavy, but it’s mine. It’s taken years to recognize that I am worthy.
A memory of a padded room has reminded me to slow my own sacrifice. I am no longer feeding a beast of my own creation and it is very much time to pick up the pieces I shattered long ago – they deserve to be heard in order for me to build anew.
It is never too late to begin again.
Featured photo by Henry Be on Unsplash