Box of clues

There is a box in my room.

I keep it locked and hidden away, because if it was accessible its contents would get destroyed. It holds every scrap of paper and every little keepsake that reminds me of the love and the courage inside her that is so deeply hidden by her pain.

I open the box when I need reminding of why. I leaf through when the trauma is so dominating the cry of my own inner need stops me from recognising and responding to hers. The trinkets – buttons on string, painted lollipop sticks glued into wonky stars, dried up flowers – are the gifts she made that arrived safely into my hands. Or things we created together that made it to the finish line without being broken in frustration; smashed by the anger and fear she associates with love. Most don’t make it. The treasures in my secret box are more precious than anything.

Some of the handwritten notes are scrappy; a few words on a ripped up corner of a note pad. There’s one that simply says ‘sory mum’ with a tiny shell sellotaped onto it; another says ‘you are my rock’ next to a 10 year old’s drawing of ‘wundr womn’.

Some are longer, like letters. These get posted under my bedroom door in the middle of the night, or left on the kitchen table, or screwed up behind the sofa amongst a dozen other things so as not to be easily found. They list all the hurt she has inside; pain she dares not speak of out loud. Huge unchecked torrents of words, in which there sometimes shines out a single phrase, like ‘I wish I didn’t hurt my mum’, or ‘mum, don’t ever think your not good inuff’. I anchor myself to these short sentences; diamond studded clues to light my way out of the dark. They renew my insight and empathy, scaffolding the resolve I need to keep going in a world that can otherwise feel so endlessly hostile. A world that offers very little to let me know if anything I do is helping, or worth it.

The clues she gives are few and far between. I need her clues like the desert needs rain. Years can pass without one clue being dropped, or i miss a vital clue altogether; lost in the immensity of her anger like a needle in a haystack. My doubt, fear, and resentment builds without those clues. I strive to remind myself that the clues are in her all the time; hidden away like secrets, and almost impossible to see.

I am learning to trust the invisible clues as much as the ones in my box.