A room of one’s own

My heart is a house, and in it are many rooms.

Come play in my yard, dine in my kitchen, dance in my entry way, make conversation on my porch. Stretch tired legs out on my sofa, relax sour muscles in my tub. Come play on my cushions and come on my rugs.

I want this house to be full of the smell of human, sex, and love.

Down a long, narrow hallway in the back of the furthest room is a door. It stands locked. The bolt is thick and there appears to be no code, no key, no guaranteed way to access entry. The edges are scarred with signs of once being forced open, old now and rusted over.

Someone with dark eyes and a dark frown stands outside, leaning against the wall. They are no guard. In fact, they hardly appear to belong there at all. Just another guest exploring the tangled halls. But, if you ask, this is what they will tell you:

“This? My guess is no one goes in.”

And like magic, an image is conjured in your mind. The room is small, dark in tapestry and candle-lit. The ground is littered with the ashes of past fires. Incense holders full of old unanswered prayers stand cold and empty, dusted with nothing but the faint memories of having once believed in them. The walls are covered in paintings and drawings of places, faces, colors sometimes vibrant, sometimes monochrome. Each style different, each medium varied, each stroke as if from a different hand.

“The room,” the stranger says as you come to, “needs to be swept out again.”

“Can I help?” you might ask. Or, “Can I see it?”

“No.”

And regardless of which question you asked, the stranger will walk away and leave you to your thoughts.

If only it were this easy.

Instead, I am always fighting internalized co-dependence. Institutional violence enacted on my bones and muscle tissue in ways that cannot be fought, but must be owned.

I have tried to be good on my own. Sweep up my rooms when they’ve fallen to ruin or to mess. I have locked the door of the innermost part of me, sealed it up tight against the world’s attacks. I have tried to be strong. I have tried to love.

And yet, failure is inevitable. Cruel and unforgiving. And before I know what I’ve done, my secret heart is burned out again. Sweeping up my failures, the only ritual I’ve known. Cleaning up the ruined mess – the one consistent act of penance I’ve done.

And yet, for whom do I do?

After decades of dustbins, calloused hands and scraped up knees — I think things need to change. I need a new conclusion. A written  a policy of what success looks like, now. A code to retain, against all weathers and storms, my own core. So that, when I am well, I can laugh. And when I am not, I can dance.

I sometimes wonder, though. Wouldn’t it be nice for a day, an hour, a moment, a single breath in time – for things to be easy? What must an easy, happy life feel like? To see yourself as inherently of worth? To not question your right to survive? To know others will value your insight? To know you were wanted, needed, loved?

Does anyone know?

I wish I knew. I occasionally catch glimpses of the answers. They are like feathers in the air. They alight only long enough for me to realize I have no idea where they come from or where, after this, they’ll go.

Afterwards, I am left with only this: isolation is inherent.

And if I want to be happy — I am charged not only to own it. But treasure it. To quietly keep and tend that one small room on my own. Despite who or what in the past forced its way through. The damage most done was the breaking open in the first place. The lie that I should need someone else to tend to me. That someone else should save my soul.

Moreso, that I had a soul to protect, to wrangle, to tame and save.

I am not a broken piece of machinery, but an animal in the wild struggling against the world for survival. Though my evolution may look different and my skills are unique in some ways — life is all the same.

Live, grow, decay, die.
That’s all I have to do.

What an easy life.

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