MY PAST UNPACKED November 27 2018 4 Comments

MY PAST had been dutifully packed away by people who liked to keep secrets. Stowed in the deep recess of an old worn suitcase, they stole my precious memories and locked them away, along with my identity.  “These secrets must never be spoken. She must never find out.” said the people who put them there.

                                 

That was a long time ago.

My past was shrouded in a heavy veil of shame that was NOT MINE.  Shame is a trickster with many disguises who is always looking for the wrong host. Before they took away my past, I claimed the shame and called it my own. I was so little - how was I to know it was not mine to take?

I nursed that shame like it was a small, sickly animal that needed me for its survival. I took on the task with great gusto believing  it would rescue Her from her pain. I thought I could make Her happy.

But instead of gaining autonomy SHAME grew stronger and more needy, feeding from me day and night, never leaving me alone. It had grown into a weight so dense it made my legs buckle, and it became another worrisome burden I had to bear all by myself, along with The Suitcase.

And still She was not happy.   

                                 

They thought that over time I would forget. “She is too young. She won’t remember anything” they conferred in quiet tones. But my senses were sharp back then, along with my memory, and the only thing that happened was I forgot to forget. I knew exactly where The Suitcase was and what was in it. I had tiptoed past it many times.

And then one day when the air was tight and crisp, I heard a tiny inkling calling my name with a despair that would break your heart. It was MY PAST!

I ran like the wind, my heart thumping inside my little chest.  And wrapping my hand around the leather bound handle,  I swiftly dislodged The Suitcase and its trapped contents from the bitter grave of its resting place. It was too weighty to lift, so with both hands I dragged it across the cool, flower-patterned lino letting it come to rest in a shaft of golden sunlight streaming through the window.

I trembled with emotion, for I knew deep within the satin-lined cavity held the truth of WHO I WAS, and where I had come from. It was an ancient relic of a forgotten mystery that had embedded itself into the very fabric of life itself, cowering there in the dark corners for way too long. It knew my real name, not the one She gave me afterwards.

I dared not open it. That’s why my heart was beating so fast – I was petrified of the unknown. I had told myself for years that it was locked and there was NO KEY. But that was not the truth. I lied to myself to keep The Suitcase firmly shut. I was caught between protecting Her, or releasing my own jagged pain and the tug-of-war frightened me greatly and so I did nothing.  I may have been small but my mind had strength, at least for a while… until it went limp, defeated by the adults who had their own ideas about who I was to be from now on.  And so I became like The Suitcase – retreating to the shadows where I was forgotten. They left me alone that way, alone with my stories and pencils. My past had been packed away, and so had I.

                        

I kneeled down very quietly in front of The Suitcase. I could see that it was worn and tired, the corners frayed, the metal dull and tarnished. There was no name on the outside, no identification tag.  Everything about it wreaked of long and difficult journeys.

Gingerly reaching forward, my thumbs pushed the locks sideways to release the clasps, and just like that they unlatched, springing open eagerly.

The interior was not damp and decayed like I imagined. It did not have a smell of mustiness. What was inside was enchanting and mysterious, full of hushed secrets - but not the ill-conceived ones I had conjured – more like the tender messages lovers write to each other on sweetly scented stationery.

INSIDE THE SUITCASE LAY MY TRUTH folded upon itself many times, layer upon layer of gossamer as fine as cobwebs, silky and delicate. This was my home.

With the greatest of care, my heart full of tenderness, I unpacked each precious memory mindfully, like butterflies, lifting each one from its imprisonment, setting them all free. And in their release I too, became liberated, as light as a feather.

My Past Unpacked ~ oil on linen / 66x61cm / 2018

This is MY PAST UNPACKED, right here on the canvas. This is the loyal suitcase that guarded my secrets, and these are the unshakable vessels that contain the Old Stories without spilling a drop. Here too are the eggs, an ancient symbol of life –the resurrection of MY LIFE that is here with me now and forever. The three Quail eggs represent the three sisters and our valuable gift of being able to repair the past with delicate consideration, healing past wounds of loss and separation. We are all together now, my sisters and me.

All that I was. All that I am. All that I am becoming - I will never pack away my past again.

I dedicate this painting to my sisters , Marina and Gloria.