It pains me to admit this: I have too much stuff.
There’s a lot of it. I bought most of it over the years—new stuff, antique stuff, little stuff, books (lots of books), kitchen gadgets, furniture, kid stuff, mom stuff, books (there really are a lot of them), clothes, pens (most of them work), shoes, gadgets. That’s the stuff off the top of my head. I haven’t even gotten to the boxes.
Yep. There are boxes, filled with stuff. They are holdovers from my move from the townhouse to the condo (50 miles and a million lifetimes ago). The move came as a result of change. I hate that. This might be the reason for the continued status of the boxes: if I keep the boxes (and their contents) long enough, the change will go away, and my life – and stuff—will revert back to their normal (ie- unchanged) state. I have squirreled so much stuff away: a secret cache that comprises the detritus of my life, odd bits of this and that which seemed important to save and squirrel away at the time.
I’ll be damned if I know what half of the stuff is, let alone why I saved any of it. I feel as if I've stumbled into some weird and forgotten Dr. Seuss story:
This thing is a little round/ This thing never makes a sound/ This thing used to hold a shape/ This thing used to hang on drapes/ Small things, big things, paper and more/ So many things, all blocking the door...
I ask myself, every so often: What's in all those boxes? Oh yeah: my past. That’s what’s in those damned boxes-- my past.
I say all this by way of getting to the real stuff. I say it to sneak up on the scary stuff, the stuff that keeps me tethered so tightly to my past, the stuff I keep close, that I need so desperately and cling to so tightly, holding on with a death grip made of cardboard and packing tape.
What's in those boxes? Ha! It's not stuff at all. It’s not paper or old photos or a program from some play I was in back in High School. There are no trophies from half-forgotten competitions. There is nothing dusty or slightly mildewed or faintly discolored shoved into some wrinkled corner. What tangles and overflows and twists inside those boxes is people and fear: all the relationships I have been unwilling – or unable—to let go.
I know, in my head, that it’s time. Life changes. So do needs and expectations. Desires change; as do people and the relationships we forge with them. I get that. I am quite smart, thank you very much. I know so very, very much.
That’s the problem: I know.
I live in my head with my knowing. I swirl and dance into my knowingness. I skip along the razor-sharp edge of reason and swim in the swift current of fact. And with every dip and dive and pirouette, I continue to hold myself safe. I am separate from my knowing. I can still believe that seductive whisper that tells me that this time it will be different. This time I will have my say. This time I will win your heart. This time—no matter where the relationship wandered or how broken it got, I will not be afraid and you will not leave.
The longest journey I’ve ever made, will ever have to make, is the one from my head to my heart. It is an endless and eternal chasm that separates the two, and the way is dark and lonely. The cold seeps into my bones, freezes my joints. And I know, if I just flit fast enough, dive deeply enough, keep inside my head enough—I will never have to face that desolate road in that trackless desert. And so, for all my knowing, for all my wisdom, I have a boxes of broken relationships and dusty fear tethering me to my past, holding me to you.
It is just a box. And maybe, really maybe, this time it will be different-- because I will be different. I will show up differently. Perhaps, this time, I can start unpacking the boxes, and those twisty little tethers, that feel so comfortable, so familiar in my hands—maybe I’m ready, finally, to cut them. Maybe, just maybe, I’m ready to put one foot in front of the other, take that final small step across that endless chasm, and start the journey to my heart.
It is so alluring: to stay, to hope, to believe. To want. Oh God, I want to hang on to the possibilities as I see them. And yes, for me, it is just a matter of time and luck and perfect astral alignment that Everything Goes Back To The Way It Was. My heart is doing little flippy-flops to hold it all together, this little bubble of desire.
But I asked to see what was in the damned box.
And all of my mental gymnastics will not keep those pesky, twisty, lovely, damaged and broklen and wonderful and past relationships, with all that fear and all that doubt in place. That journey, that endless and eternal and lonely journey has begun, whether I am ready for it or not. My feet have found the path, however rocky and dark it may be.
I’m not sure of this path. I hate not being sure. I live for certainty, for deftness and sureness and control. I crave knowing.
But we’re coming to a new year, and I get to start clean and pure. I get to be-- different. I get to unpack the boxes, no matter how slowly or hesitantly. I get to leap, in my faith, and believe that I will be caught, to rest safely in the hand of God. I get to let go, finally, and let be, finally. I get to breathe. Finally, I get to say good bye.