The Box

There is a box.

The box is locked.

The box is covered up. With clutter and debris and all manner of mess.

The box is organic. The box shrinks. The box grows. Depending on the time.

The box rarely gets opened. But when it does, chaos ensues.

The box is full of grief. Full of sadness. And it’s in my head. It’s archived. Never forgotten, just…… stored. Because it hurts to open the box.

I talked about the box with a dear friend last week, who posited that that “box”, or mental archive, is a “man thing”. That women don’t possess that. That men can file their emotions away. My friend is a dear lady. And I disagreed.

But what do I know?

The box has been opened just 3 times in the past 13 months.

On two of those occasions, by the same person. A GP. Someone I don’t know well, but a lovely man.

Once at #ISBF4. The other at #ISBF5. Last weekend. The third occasion was about 2 months ago. By a lovely lady. Someone who was looking out for me.

And (on that occasion) I came to – about 5 hours later – face down. On a footpath. Having collapsed. Drunkenly.

At #ISBF4, the GP approached me. It was near the end of the evening. He was tipsy. And talkative. And he wanted to talk with me about my writing. About grief.

Now. I do use self-depreciation as a shield. A device to protect myself. But I don’t when it comes to writing. I’m not a good writer. I can’t paint pictures with words. I’ll never claim to.

But what I am is open.

I’m that dog-eared paperback you’ve never slung in the charity pile.

I’m honest.

I say this to people when they doubt my word….

“Look into my eyes. I mean every single word I say. I’m very careful with what I say. I weigh those words carefully. And I mean each and every one”

That’s just one of the ways in which that moment at 16:39 on 27/09/2016 changed me. Just one.

That GP told me how my writing about my grief impacted on him. On his patients. How he recommended them to read what I wrote.

You can have no idea how much that fucked with my head.

It was beautiful. Such a sweet thing to say. The most amazing compliment anyone has ever given me.

But he’d opened the box.

And it made me crash.

I walked away from that conversation, JUST holding it together. I went to speak with TLO (who was in the kitchen at St Sebastian’s). And I broke into hacking sobs. I remember the lovely Mark Welsby being there. And the look on his face.

I ran away. And cried my heart out. Something I’m never ashamed to do.

This weekend, that same lovely young GP had that same conversation with me.

The difference being that the key only turned. The lid of the box didn’t lift. That happened 2 days later.

I’m learning.

The Box is locked again. It’s covered in shit and debris. Put to the back. Always there. A little tap on the lid, each and every day.

Never forget. Never stop loving. Never stop caring.

Talk. Please.

Back soon.


2 comments on “The Box

  1. Hello. It’s Stuart who’s not really Stuart but has to be because people can be cruel.

    We met at Wilde Child.

    Anyway, I am so bloody annoyed at a world where we have to ‘keep up appearances’ because in reality others can’t cope.One cry for help and 19 cry wolfs and the 19 are worth clambering over to help the one. Does that even make sense?

    I have a friend who lost his son at 23 a couple of years ago. He describes it as the new normal, but it will never be normal. I know he struggles and I live 150 miles away. I think he’s hurting now, with Christmas coming as I’m sure are you.

    Awww, I dunno. Just never stop talking. Sure there’s no need to open Pandora’s Box all the time, and never feel guilty for occasionally forgetting it all and laughing. You’re HUMAN.

    So for all it can ever truly console, I’m sat in my front room, tears in my eyes a bit because you know what? I’m losing my son too. Not as tragically or permanently as you and my friend, but sure as hell I’m losing him. Try explaining gender dysphoria’ to someone not involved in it. Only your closest friends can be trusted with that conversation.

    I think my point is that pain is part of living every bit as much as loving is.

    Unless you’re religious it all ends the same way, but my God the journey. Blessed are those that have people who hold their hands on the way when needed. I’ve met enough of your mates to know that you are supported and yes, loved.

    Stay strong, but don’t be afraid to be weak. 🙂

    • Thank you “Stuart”. Thank you.

      Yes. I do remember our chat at Wilde Child. I also remember some wobbly “dancing” to Fascination by Bowie that evening!

      Yes. I keep that box locked. It’s mine and mine alone. But I’m unafraid to talk, especially if it helps others to do so. I now know that I can handle the fallout, the consequences, of reaching in and turning that key.

      Keep smiling. Keep laughing. Keep talking.

      Jim x

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