Emotional Work

A little box of emotion bombs.

A little box of emotion bombs.

The rain came down for exactly two minutes during the morning: long enough for the Curmudgeonly Lion to go outside to try to bring some cardboard boxes into the shelter of the workshop, and stopping promptly the minute that there was nothing left outside to rain on.


It was a day of sudden showers all around. I found myself back at the task of sorting through a box of old letters and papers from my high-school and undergraduate days. The letters trended towards the celebratory: Happy Birthday, Congratulations on Graduation, Happy Valentines Day, Merry Christmas, Thinking of You. So many well wishes. So many friends from the past. So much love. But I quickly found myself in tears. For all the good memories that I kept, I also stored away the bad ones: loneliness and broken hearts and rejection and deep, deep periods of depression that I sometimes like to pretend never happened. The letters from friends and family now departed: some after long lives and some taken too soon. Reminders of voices I’ll never hear again and of my own mortality.

A part of me wonders why I keep these memories if they upset me so. If I threw them away, would I be able to forget? Would I be happier for the forgetting? Could I prune away the parts of my past that still cut to the bone? Can I forget who I was now that I’ve become someone else? Or is it disingenuous of me to pick and choose the parts of my life that made me who I am today?  If I fail to accept my worst moments do I fail to accept myself? Am I saving these documents for myself because I want to look back and know myself better or do I save them out of vanity hoping that someday someone else will look back over them and try to know me better? I suspect that it’s probably the latter: since I learned today that I can barely stand to look at them myself. Will these papers reflect the authentic me? Do I want them to? For all the tears that I shed during my walk down memory lane, I failed to throw away a single card or letter.

For now, I’ve elected to pack everything back into the box that it came from. When I clear a place in the closet I will tuck it away on a shelf for another twenty years or so in the hopes that maybe time will take the sting out of it.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 23, 2016.

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