Let’s talk about boxes for a bit. Yes, you read right. I’m talking about big brown carton boxes right now. As everyone who has moved at least once in their lives knows: they’re probably the most useful thing ever when moving – next to a huge truck and some reeeeeal good friends that help you carry your stuff even up to the fifth floor of a building that has no elevator (after more than four years: thanks again, guys!).
Boxes do many things: they help you move your belongings and keep them organised; they store things you might not need at the moment (such as seasonal clothing); they carry unused, often broken items, maybe old memories that you might wanna come back to once in every four years to reminisce about the good, old and better days. All of this doesn’t sound particularly noteworthy, right?
Well, as we all know, boxes also hide things that we no longer wanna look at, but way too often can’t be bothered to get rid off anyways. I’m guessing at the latest now most of you will have grasped as to where I’m getting at with this piece of writing. Yes, I’m talking emotions, especially the ones that we’d rather not look at.
There’s many different ways to refer to our emotions – with emotional baggage probably being the most widely spread one. In the German language, we also talk about carrying our individual backpacks on our shoulders. Some have to carry a heavier load; some may not even notice they have a backpack on their backs at all. There might not be a lot people hanging out in the latter group, but trust me: those people do exist and they live among us – the heavily damaged (attention: sarcasm!). I have met one or two of them and I am still fascinated as to how they do it.
But let’s get back to the box analogy: no matter where we go, how far we travel, with whom we may be moving in – we always seem to bring at least one big box filled with our most important things, memories, belongings along with us. At least that’s what we think they are: important. I’m talking about character traits that we have been told to define us; painful memories from our earliest childhood; unnecessary things we said and heard during the nasty break-up from ten years ago (or last month for that matter) – all of these things are carefully hoarded in most of our boxes and we only occasionally take the time to even consider maybe decluttering all of our dark, sometimes bloody and gnawing emotions.
The one thing, though, that’s probably most important for the mental health of each and everyone of us, is to regularly stop and drop that heavy thing of a box, so we can take a look into the depths of it. So we can reconsider which of those feelings, memories, and character traits we might wanna get rid off once and for all. In return we also get to decide which are worth holding onto for at least a little while longer. The big reward for this usually is having a lighter, maybe even smaller box and space for new memories. Oh, and a clearer head comes with all of this naturally.
Occasionally, some of the already decluttered items might find their way back into the box again. Such items can be triggered by literally anything: a new person coming into your life or a very dear person leaving it, a new job you’re going to start, a new phase in your life you’re about to enter etc. And this is exactly why it’s so important to not keep the box somewhere up in the emotional attic, but to look inside at a regular basis and find out what’s going on in there, so you don’t end up surprised and completely overwhelmed by whatever happens once the box is so stuffed it breaks.
Stop constantly filling it up with new things you just don’t want to have in your immediate emotional surroundings, but start listening to what your emotions are trying to tell you when they seem to be “haunting” you. Of course you can’t and shouldn’t check on your box daily – we should definitely enjoy the ride while we’re on it. But when shit hits the fan, it can come in handy to know what’s usually going on in there. We don’t want no sneaky rats fucking up our emotional “safe haven”, right?
Even here in Barcelona I couldn’t deny the existence of my very own box, which I brought along all the way from Vienna. No matter how happy I may be at the moment or how thankful I am for everything that’s happening right now: I, too, have my bad days here. There, I said it. And that’s okay. I, too, have all those doubts, worries, fears and emotional scars sitting on the bottom of my box. Within the last days, this matter of fact actually irritated me to a degree I almost couldn’t cope with. Until I finally opened up my box to someone else and started to consciously dig up again some of the old things I hadn’t paid much attention to lately, being busy with enjoying. And again: that’s okay. And so necessary.
We’re all just human. We all have our boxes. Nobody likes digging in their own dirt, let alone someone else’s. It’s worth it, though. And we can help each other more than we think by simply opening up our boxes together and sharing what’s inside. Because we all fuck up. Constantly. Again and again.
And hey, even if an old box breaks because we didn’t get around this time to sort things out in time – we can always start over with lots of duck tape, tape up all the holes and try again. I know we can.
I’d like to get a little dialogue started here: how do you usually refer to your unwanted emotions? How do you deal with your very own box? Looking forward to reading from you.