The Empty Room

I wonder what it would be like to have a soothing peace fill the inside instead of this dreadful pain that I feel. I am not good at knowing exactly what to do with that space. It’s as if I have bought a house, but I have no possessions. I own no furniture that requires me to measure doorways and openings, fretting about how it will all fit. I have no books to rearrange on shelves. No memories to hang on the walls.

Sunlight pours into the room with bright white walls, hardwood floors gleaming their oak honey back in. All my desires for decor and children echo in that space that can never be nor will be filled. Or so it seems.

A longing within me desires to fill the sun room with colors and chaos. A voice from deep within whispers that, no matter the accent pillows nor throw rugs, no matter the sofas nor desks, no matter the clothing nor tchotchkes, the room will continue to be as it is, hollow and bare, but looking quite bright and inviting from the outside.

I suspect, tho I am loathe to admit, that any attempts by me to fill the space will fail miserably. I will turn away to get the coffee off the stove. I will go away for but a few minutes at most, and I will return to the room that stands just as empty and shiny as it ever was. I will be frightened, confused. How can it be that this room that I have just finished decorating, stuffed with unsorted stuffed animals and books and music CDs, is empty as if I never touched it? The room retains its friendly demeanor, looking right back at me as if to say in a nonplussed tone, “What?”

“As if you don’t know!” will come my reply, but the room has nothing more to say. No further conversation in which I am permitted to make my arguments and win against the room. Its emptiness does not wish to have a discussion with me, although I will keep on trying to engage its attention. I fail miserably every time. Who really wants to have a room that they cannot use?

“You must do something,” the logic in my mind tries to goad me. But how is it possible to have a tug of war when the other side refuses to pick up the rope, to engage in a battle of wills? I have listened the to Commander’s logic and have attempted a variety of ways to pressgang the empty, resistant, unifillable room into standing down, to surrender itself to being filled. Isn’t the passive feminine supposed to cave to the masculine dictator of logic and allow the invasion forces to penetrate, to conquer, to humiliate and dominate?

Instead, the room resists all my therapy tricks, all the German code false starts, all the bulldozers and the bullies. A tsunami could hit the exterior walls and not even a hairline crack would appear. The room feels inviolate for it will neither bend nor break. Would an earthquake shake it up, loosen the dirt underneath and around the foundation, and bring down the house?

I tiptoe around the landlines, the mounds of unhealed moments in my life that, if I were to step on them, would shake me violently, rattle my eyes in their sockets, and blur my vision. As I back away from the explosives, my vision clears. I am no longer afraid. Neither am I moving forward.

The empty room presses in the sore spots that linger deeply inside when I think of what my life could be like. The fulfillment I crave. Tasks finished. Books written. Money and self-sufficiency won. That ever-moving goal where I imagine a personal nirvana where I can find a kind of permanent peace. In the meantime, pain lives on within, unkissable and unsatisfying.

I compare myself to other people. They are ahead of me, better than me, find reaching their goals easier, are more persistent, more talented, more worthy and worthwhile, and better than I am in their lives than I can ever be in every possible way.

I throw all these fatty, heavy feelings into the room. They stick to the walls, melding with the paint, as the room gains weight. Like a glue, the room sits in my landscape and refuses to move. The glue eventually fades, but the pain stays and the room remains empty, despite all my best efforts to fill it with good things. My values, hopes, and dreams. My daring and courage. My persistence and my will. My strengths and my vulnerabilities. I give it everything in the hopes that it will be satisfied by something, anything.

After all this time, I think that maybe what the room wants me to do, most of all, is to sit there without trying to change it or myself. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Stop trying to change everything inside the room and the room itself. Maybe the room wants a sole, whole occupant. Only by sitting and listening without doing will the room be complete and, maybe, me along with it.


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