Author’s note: I wrote this two years ago, but never made it public. It’s still relevant, and I was feeling like this again over purim. I’m in middle of working on a post about sadness over the holidays, and I felt I had to finally make this public. I hope no one can identify with this, but if you do, please take some solace in the knowledge that you’re not alone; that other people feel your pain and pray constantly that you never feel it again.
I live in a room. My room. It is mine. That’s why I live there. I am my room. My room is who I am. At least that’s how it feels when I look around it. I look around it and see a person, an identity, a life compressed into an eleven-by-twelve-foot space. Completely. It’s mine. And it’s private. Authorized personnel only.
The door to my room is badly damaged, as is the doorpost supporting it. I used to try to lock my room with combination padlocks and latches drilled into my door and its doorpost, but those were broken by people trying to get into my room. They damaged my door and the doorposts supporting it. But what exactly is the significance of a door—or rather, more importantly, what does a door characterize?
When attempting to sack a castle or fort, an army will always attempt to penetrate the entrance, be it a gate, or a door, by battering at it until it gives way. I once wondered why the doors to castles and forts opened inward. I mean, if you think about it, that’s a rather serious security flaw. A door that opens outwards is much harder to break through because in order to do so, you must shatter the door itself rather than just forcing it to give way and open. The reason I found was so that troops retreating from battle, or supplies or wounded soldiers, would not have to stop and wait while the doors open to gain entry; rather, they could continue riding or moving forward while the castle welcomes them. My door opens inward.
I live in my room. By that I mean that everything that made and makes me who I am is contained with me within the confines of my room. Confines. Perhaps. Perhaps not. As a child, growing up, I was constantly on display to my family, everything I did, everything I said, thought, or felt, everything I became, on display and available for analysis in the aide of a specific agenda. My preferences in food used by one party or another to curry favour with me in an ongoing battle between my mother and the rest of my family over who could claim their love and authority over me exclusively. My tastes in writing used by the same two parties in a constant struggle over who had exclusive rights over my moral and ideological fabric. The library books I used to take out were used by my grandmother to point out how awful an influence my mother was being, and my grandmother’s attitude was used by my mother to point out how restrictive the life my grandmother promised would be for me.
Eventually I learned, albeit unconsciously, to hide who I was and who I was becoming from anyone who might use it for something other than what it was intended for. I never wanted to celebrate my accomplishments because I would be the only one truly celebrating—everyone else would be looking for a way to use it to their advantage. My interest, and subsequent professional interest, in computers, my ability and accomplishments in graphic design, my talent for writing, the causes I had become passionate about, the people who were becoming a part of my life, the people I loved and cared about, and the people I hated and wanted dead—all of them I kept to myself because I wanted what they all meant to me to be mine exclusively for a change, and for them to remain exactly as I intended them to be in their purest, most uncorrupted forms. I wanted something for myself.
Well, the locks hadn’t worked, and my door kept getting kicked in, so I locked the only portal I had left into my self or identity: my mouth. Sure I talk about myself to my friends and acquaintances, but not with my family. Not with the people I share a house with. There are seven rooms in my house, and one of them is mine and that is the way it is staying. I leave nothing of myself outside of my room, because for the first time in my life, I finally have something that is my own. Hang the possessions, the corporeal and tangible expressions of my identity, personality, and self, what I’m keeping private in my room is what makes me the person I am. The feelings, emotions, beliefs, talents, abilities, flaws, faults, defects, and the knowledge and understanding amassed because of all of it. That is what comprises me and my room, and in fear of clouding the waters of my self I keep it well hidden and locked away.
I hate it.
I hate the solitude.
I hate the fact that I reside in a house but live in a room.
My room is a necessary, but self-imposed prison, one to which I—the prisoner—hold the key. What’s keeping me in here are the people around me who would once again exploit what I am and the identity I’ve created to try and gain exclusivity over me, and I don’t trust anyone enough to give them the opportunity to prove otherwise. I pray one day to live in a home with many rooms, and many people with whom to share those rooms.