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 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.
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.