Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A place of your own

A few years ago I was sitting with a woman (in therapy) who was crying. There were a multitude of reasons why she could have been crying; she was homeless, her husband was in jail, her children had been taken away, she had no job, no money and an abusive past that would have killed weaker women. but it turns out the thing that was upsetting her most right at that moment was that she had been passed up for a locker at her shelter. They gave it to a guy who hasn't even been there as long as me", she cried. "I just want a place to keep my stuff."

I totally empathize with this.

When I was little (and still now actually) I had tons of little boxes and special hiding places to keep my special things. I had jewelry boxes that held notes from friends and trinkets from the fair and old jewelry of my grandmothers that I got to play with. As I got older and I started to have my own spaces I had a closet to put my shoe boxes full of things and shelves with albums for my pictures. When you have flat mates you end up using your bedroom as a place for all your things and then if you're lucky enough to live alone (which I have done once) you have a whole apt to put all of your special things in their special places that are just for you. There is something really special and important about having a place to put your things. A place that no one else will sully or trespass into.

After the session I mentioned above I went to the store and bought a bunch of art supplies. I came to our next session with a shoe box and tons of pens and paper and glue. We spent the next hour decorating that box until she felt that it was just right. I let her keep it in my office and told her she could put whatever she wanted in it (except dangerous or illegal things, I'm not insane) and I wouldn't look in it. Every time she came to see me I would give her a few minutes to add or take away or just peruse the items she kept there. Now I know that having a shoe box in my office didn't make being homeless any easier but it did make her feel like she had one little place of her own. Eventually she got a locker and then a small apt and she was able to put her shoe box there.

I think that we forget sometimes how important it is to have something that's ours alone. As adults with homes and families and room-mates we share so much of our space and forget about our little boxes of childhood. Maybe you should dig up that special box from when you were a kid or maybe it's time to have a craft day and make a new one.