I imagine a profound time in my life as I look back to the early 1990’s when I found myself finally locating and creating a safe, comfortable “box” in which to live seemingly giving permission to settle my soul. This yellow and white box I fashioned was actually quite beautiful, as it was adorned with hand painted Venetian plastered walls with a variety of classic art hanging throughout. As well, there were hand designed, unique iron and crystal period chandeliers and one-of-a-kind hand crafted furniture designed by me with the simple intention of creating a place of comfort, safety, and love.
This box to which I refer became known to me affectionately as the ‘comfort box’ and had all the “necessary” features of “beauty.” There were hand cut hard wood floors and crown molding around the interior, both stunning, giving character to this warm, cozy, yellow, and white box. Luckily, due to my choice of lifestyle, my box even had the accommodations to house others. Along with a dining area designed especially for my love of entertaining came my “perfect” kitchen. This room was set up to become the specific room which would bring me great joy as it was mine to do what I loved the most, preparing meals and parties for my family and friends as this was the one role at which I so desperately wanted to succeed. As well, I must say, the comfort box included my special creative skills at designing the bedrooms of my three children and keeping the themes to which they related with matching bedding, wall coverings, and any electronic aids they chose for the time periods in their lives. However, I must admit, meeting their needs was more for my satisfaction.
All seemed good, and I was sure the comfort box was the answer to the restlessness and fear my soul encompassed with such unnatural ease. My yellow and white box was my solution and the continuation of many chapters of what I believed was family success.
I loved my comfort box. To accommodate the need for reflection and privacy, it was located at the end of a long, narrow driveway adorned with roses of all types, huge trees, and our three dogs frolicking safely in the front yard as we played “catch the coyote” which is the joke of dark humor as we kept our eyes pealed on the safety of these dedicated pets. It actually gave me a sense of peace and serenity at all hours, day or night. Night after night, I would sit on the front porch in the rocking chair in which I’ve rocked since the day I became a mother and comfortably pondered my life.
Yes, your guess is correct. This comfort box was my home. Although made of sticks and stones, it was what gave me joy, and staying in it forever gave me purpose. Moreover, I had dedicated myself to staying there at any cost.
Unexpectedly, one morning, I woke up to the buzzing of my alarm clock that aroused my brain to what I refer to as high alert. It wasn’t long before the sounds of this innocent clock, meant to do the job of reminding me of the time to begin my day, become a metaphor for my life! Perhaps, the feelings were unconsciously brewing, but shivering, sweating, and itching with a lump in my throat became so real that I had to sit up to make sure that I was not dreaming or, more clearly described, having such a horrible nightmare that physical pain engrossed my entire body. If the numbers on the clock had a message, it was that I had reached middle-age, and life was passing me by simply because I stayed “comfortable.”
I carefully sauntered out of bed walking to the window and decided to open the drapes. I wanted to see the sunshine from a totally different angle no matter how scared I was. Suddenly, I did not see this box as I did the day before. It occurred to me that the job of creating a palace where I can be safe is really to my detriment as it exposes me to more isolation and keeps me hidden from myself. Furthermore, I needed to reach for something bigger than my home, bigger than the wonderful children I raised, my husband’s desires, and bigger, and greater than the more often than not, the small, lost person I felt I had become over the years.
Why this happened so quickly in one swoop, I do not know, but I do know that the comfort box suddenly felt like a prison from which I could not escape. I tried to reject the astonishing revelation that the notion of staying “comfortable” within a box was only a mere escape from the fear of becoming who I really wanted to be and what I wanted to represent because it was so uncomfortable to step beyond what I knew. I did not even know there were windows of which I never looked out.
That realization sparked the flame within to unnaturally wake me up. In that one moment in time, I resolved, at any cost, I was going to step out of my comfort zone and do things that I had always been afraid to do including taking chances with my own life. I began a journey to start walking on the outside of my very pretty, safe box. To make matters scarier, I was going to take this journey on my own. I knew I had to go on my own, as this was my life that I had to finally embrace. After all, who else can walk my path but me? My box could not give me what existed outside the doors and windows.
But, could I leave the comfort box? Can a middle-aged woman change her spots? Does this mean taking chances away from the comfort box to find myself while keeping this as a place of shelter and comfort but seeing the world outside as a place I can create myself in positive ways where I actually have to interact with others with whom I may find self fulfillment? I say yes.
I still love the comfort box but not in the same way. I know that the beautiful box in which I once lived has changed into a beautiful, new box without any firm walls and filled with open windows and open drapes. After all, a box is made of sticks and stones, and a home is made of love. I have become my own home. Open to all possibilities. I am willing to grow and leave the comfort box behind ready to take on the discomfort of uncertainty and inner-personal change. I’m not sure, but maybe this is just one episode in my history that shows I have a brain that is still evolving!