I don’t advise reading this unless you can handle a lot of emotionally intense information and feelings.
Today my grandmother asked me to come over to her house. This was strange to me because, although we used to be inseparable, we don’t speak much anymore. But I went over anyways. You know what they say – curiosity killed the cat. When I arrived she had a box full of stuff. A box full of MY stuff. At first, I thought that this was a nice gesture…as I looked through the box (with her looking on) I was flattered that she had kept every program of any event of mine that she had attended – lots of suzuki program recitals, dance concerts, piano performances, and musicals. I was a bit music-obsessed. (Not much has changed). Initially, I was touched that she had kept all these things for me – fond memories from my elementary years – and I truly do appreciate that gesture. But the plot thickens (oh how the plot ALWAYS thickens). As I got towards the bottom of the box, I started coming across different things. I began finding cards I had made for her, poems I had written her, drawings I had artfully designed in her honor. Why was she giving these things back to me? It’s like she was handing me back all the pieces of myself that I had, at one point, trusted her to guard. This hurt me. One drawing was of a person and then two flower stems with hearts where a flower should have been. It was captioned in rainbow letters “to Nannie: I love you so much. You and me forever.” I felt my heart, which has already been cracked far too many times to count, crack a little deeper. The knife that someone had once stuck into my stomach was twisted a little harder, pushed a little further towards my spine which is slowly folding over on itself.
I feel like she designed my grave stone. She buried me with her words: “Honey, you dumped me. I didn’t dump you.” When I protested she just kept on shoveling dirt on my (already full) grave. “I am disgusted by what has gone on in your family.” “Your sister has been so grossly mistreated by you and your parents.” “You need to be kinder to her and try to understand her struggles.” “You are the favorite and it is so blatant and I can’t believe that you’ve not seen it.” “Your sister deserves the world. But you get things so easily.” and the list goes on and on and on. But what’s a proper burial without a finale – the stone on top of the grave: “Don’t you dare accuse me of having any part of your eating disorder. I won’t hear of that. I will take no part in the blame of that because I had zip zero to do with that.”
And I argued back. Respectfully, of course. But don’t think for a second I just sat there and took all of that crap, holding the broken pieces of the heart I had trusted her with in my hands the entire time. She listened. She didn’t interrupt me, but she rode the tail end of my phrases – no chance to take a breath for fear of interruption. She refuted my feelings, thoughts, ideas, etc. She shamelessly refuted my existence.
My point is this: my life is in a box.
She boxed up my existence and handed it right back to me. But she’s not the only one who boxed me up. I am also guilty of boxing my life up. I must admit that I also have a box of my own stuff. I started keeping this box in middle school. Much like my grandmother’s box, mine consists mostly of old recital programs, pamphlets from school musicals, certificate of “achievement” from high school, and the like. I kept my life in a box – not displayed on my bedroom walls, framed on a bookshelf, or hung on the kitchen fridge. It was always put in the box immediately…even my high school diploma, decorated with stickers, was shoved under the bed just a couple days after the graduation ceremony. I am not one to be celebrated. I do not deserve the grandiose cheers, slaps on the back, and dessert-type rewards that typically accompany achievement. Nor do I seek out these things because quite frankly, I don’t think I would quite know how to behave under that type of spotlight. I am much more comfortable in silence. I was always taught, “let your achievements speak for themselves” humility and humbleness was preached at me more often than bible verses or the ABC’s. I was taught that I was a fast learner and things came easily and therefore, they weren’t to be celebrated. Only things that took true work were to be noted, and even then, not to the disruption of our entire family system. I could be celebrated, but not at the expense of anyone else – no matter how hard I tried or how many hours I spent slaving away. My life is in a box. It started out being put there by others, but now I follow suite. My life is in a box – under the bed and dusty. My existence is forgotten, not noted, not appreciated and definitely not needed. Sometimes I wonder why I’ve hung around as long as I have. There’s a part of me that I guess always hopes that someone else will come and pull the box out, appreciate all that’s inside – acknowledge it, smile at it, be genuinely proud of it. My hope is that my box will follow me to heaven and if God is all he says he is (and all that I’ve believed him to be) he will open up my box, and finally someone will be proud of me.