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Mental Stuffing

My parents are divorced. They have been since I was a baby, so my earliest memories are of the house my mom and I lived in. It was very small and located in rural Mississippi. The name of the community is Sylvarena, but odds are you have no idea where that is.  
Our house had three bedrooms, but we used the third one as a “junk room.” Most people have a closet to cram useless things with perceived sentimental value in; my mom and I had an entire room. It was ridiculous. It got to the point where you couldn’t even walk inside this back room. We simply closed the door and agreed that no guest in our home would ever cross that threshold. In hindsight, people probably thought we were serial killers or something.  
Anyway, I guess you could say that stuffing things away is a family trait. If you were to visit the house we live in now and open one of a few choice cabinets in our kitchen or utility room, you would probably sustain a concussion from objects falling on your head.  
I don’t know for certain that this stuffing away of unwanted items has contributed to my mental habit of stuffing away unwanted thoughts and feelings instead of facing them and throwing them out, but there is certainly a parallel. I wonder if I am alone in this.
I think we all do it to a certain extent. It’s how we protect ourselves. For me, the memories and feelings that get stuffed away the most are the ones that damage my pride or make me feel weak. I was raised in a family of strong, wonderful women, but sometimes that strength makes me repel anything that brings vulnerability with it.
In the back room of my mind is the memory of a group of girls being mean to me one year at camp, a date that didn’t go anywhere, the time one of my friends was self-destructing and I didn’t really do anything to help, a kiss that didn’t mean anything, every cruel word that was ever directed at me, every panic attack, every fear, every embarrassing moment of my life. This mental “room” intimidates me because it’s full of everything that has caused me pain or discomfort.  
I wonder what things you’ve stuffed away in your mental “junk room.” Maybe your dad wasn’t present in your life, whether it was a literal vacancy or a mental one. Maybe you were abused verbally or physically. Maybe you allowed yourself to be vulnerable at one point and got burned by someone you thought loved you. I don’t know your story, but I know that we all carry our clutter and mess around with us. But despite the wreckage of all of our hurts and fears, I’m beginning to see that there is a great deal of freedom in opening the door to that room in our mind and beginning to dig through the mess. I’m also learning the cleaning process goes a lot quicker and is more enjoyable when there are others to help.
Some of us use these “rooms” as protection; others use them to ruminate on past hurts, not wanting to let them go. No matter the reason, they really just keep us from living, from growing, from moving forward.  
When my mom married my stepdad, I was a few weeks from turning 12 years old. We moved the next year and had a little more than 13 years’ worth of mess to pack up and throw out in that “junk room.” It was miserable. We hated cleaning out that room, but it was necessary if we were going to move.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. In order to move forward, sometimes we have to do the uncomfortable and often messy job of cleaning up and throwing out.
So take a deep breath, grab a friend and open that door.  

Megan Massey is a religious studies senior from Mount Olive. Follow her on Twitter @megan_massey.