We have a little white cardboard box at home marked: Box of bad memories. Do not often open.
Everyone knows where it is, approximately. It is not hidden away or locked up against prying eyes. Occasionally it becomes buried under housed debris; sometimes it disappears, only to be rediscovered with a new entry written inside. Anyone can use it, no questions asked.
My Mum was brought up in a large, hard Scots households, where expressing emotions or expecting empathy was seen as a sure sign of weakness of character and firmly discouraged. To her credit she was determined that the next generation be permitted such luxuries, till overwhelmed, the drawbridge of repression would crash down, leaving the poor woman tearfully telling me to „sort it out myself“.
So I did and still do. Instead of plates styling, doors slamming or banshees wailing, our kids were encouraged to „talk it out, understand you anger, apologize and move on“. they often joked that they were more there parents and we the children! Many a true word said in jest, we thought as we watched the tables turn. So much for TV’s Dr. Phil’s psychological guidance!
The box was their idea, a safe place to store life’s injustices. Where nasty events and feelings, once written down, were left to fester all they liked until rendered powerless could be harmlessly exhumed and re-examined.
So the pain of not being chosen for the school parade was reduced to prejudice or malicious teasing to jealousy, slander in the workplace to ignorance. Rejection, failure, grief, hatred, anger, stupidity, corruption, they’re all in there, swearing and stamping their feet in futility. Allowing the good memories to come flooding back, leaving the bad skulking in the dark confines of a little white box, which should not be often opened.
Story by Sheila Bardas