Life Outside the Box

As a young child, the truth that my parents abused me was too much for me to handle.  In my heart I put that truth inside a big cardboard box and taped it up tight.  I covered the box with a blanket of lies.  “My parents are great.”  “They love me very much.”  “I am lucky to have good Christian parents like them.”  Part of my heart, my young self got trapped inside, under the cardboard, packing tape, and blanket.  That part of me was hurt and angry about being called a liar.

As I became an adult and put physical and symbolic distance between myself and my past I learned to function very well, but from time to time I came to trip over the big old box in my heart that held the truth about my past.  “What’s this old thing?”  “I thought I threw that out years ago!” “I wonder what I packed away in there?”  As the box got old and worn, the truth started to make its way out.  The first thing that came out was anger.  Big scary gobs of anger that neither the packing tape nor my grown up self could hold down came pushing their way to the surface of my heart.  Following the angry trail in patience led me back to the truth about my parents and what had happened to me.

Since then I’ve opened up that box and seen (I think) most of what’s inside it.  It’s no happy place.  If I linger there too long it’s easy to get stuck.  In order to function I’ve set the box of truths aside and gone on with my life.  When I do that it’s too easy to fall back into old patterns of denial.  When it comes to my parents, especially my mother, I am driven by an overwhelming and barely resistible urge to try and please her.  There’s this arrogant part of me who still believes I can make her happy with me if I just give it one more try.

So goes life for me outside the box.  Bouncing back and forth between pain and denial.  What I need to do, what God wants me to do, is to embrace my past.  To love and parent my wounded self.  To enclose and protect and incorporate the truth into the grown and capable me.


7 thoughts on “Life Outside the Box

  1. I have read this post several times trying to figure out how it fits my life. I did not grow up with horrible abuse from my parents. From them it was mostly just neglect … as long as I was quiet they left me alone from the time I was a baby. They didn’t have clear boundaries so I never knew when I was crossing the line … and I didn’t know how to do the right thing because it changed from day to day. I was constantly trying to make them happy.

    When I got into High School I think I boxed all that stuff up and just tried to create my own life. I began to drink because it was a quick escape from the racing thoughts I would have. It didn’t solve anything but allowed me some distance.

    I started tripping over things in the box as I tried to have relationships and would never be able to really connect with anyone beyond the surface. The drinking progressed and eventually led to pills.

    I didn’t begin to heal until I worked a program that made me take out all that stuff and really look at it. I had a safe place to just be me and share all the ugly details. I learned what I was responsible for and I wasn’t and it really helped me sort things out.

    I still have huge hang ups with my mom. When I am around her I feel like I’m 6 years old again not doing anything right. If I keep my own boundaries secure I do a lot better. The greatest lesson I ever learned in regards to my parents is that I’m not responsible for their happiness. That relieved me of a lot of the burden I felt.

    Thanks for sharing this … it has helped me think through some things myself.


  2. Like Cemotosnack, I too have been going back and rereading this post…tearsinabottle you have articulated so well the dance that victims of abuse dance…whether it was overt or subtle abuse…the dance of co-dependency, the dance of people pleasing, the dance of an orphan heart….and the list goes on.

    Cemotosnack, thank you for sharing with us…it’s a huge step in our healing process to come to the place where we can honestly look at what we are and are not responsible for…a very freeing place to be…


  3. tearsinabottle:

    I am very sorry that you have suffered such abuse. I just want you to know that I’m sorry for what has happened to you.

    And I think you have a beautiful heart.

    Love to you,



  4. hmmm, you know just today DH and I were talking and I was able to use your analogy of the box…for me it was in regards to fear, how I deal or not deal with an issue that causes me to fear or be afraid… I pack it away in a box, seal it and push it aside…yet all the while I am very aware it is there hiding in the corner….yet I’m not ready to take it, bring it out in the middle of the room and open it up, not ready to deal with a certain issue that provokes fear……this was very timely for me too…thought provoking and good!


  5. thank you for saying so
    i’m still often surprised when others can relate
    there’s healing in speaking out and learning i’m not alone


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