The VaultMy feelings lie frozen within me, encased in an unseen and unseeable compartment. Inaccessible and inert, my feelings do not animate and enliven my existence. They are a numb, dead weight -- cold and mute.
For years my feelings lay in an iron box buried so deep inside me that I was never sure just what it was. I knew I carried slippery, combustible things more secret than sex and more dangerous than any shadow or ghost. Ghosts had shape and name. What lay inside my iron box had none. Whatever lived inside me was so potent that words crumbled before they could describe.
Sometimes I felt my iron box contained a tomb. The walls were stone, like those guarding the mummies in an archeological museum and the air was cool. My mother sat in one corner on a chair like a throne. Her blonde hair was swept up above her ears and she looked stern. My father stood beside her, erect and tall like a military man. The tomb contained the frozen feelings surrounding all the significant persons in my life.
I built my iron box carefully, the way we were taught in school that nuclear reactors were built. I conceived lead walls around the dangerous parts, concentric circles of water channels and air ducts that would soften and contain any kind of explosion. I enclosed it all with metal casing and buried the box far away from my brain toward the small of my back, in the part of my body that seemed least alive.
The box became a vault, collecting in darkness, always collecting, pictures, words, my parents' glances, becoming loaded with weight. It sank deeper as I grew older, so packed with undigested things that finally it became impossible to ignore. I knew the iron box would some day have to be dredged up into the light, opened, its contents sorted our, but I had built such fortifications that it had become inaccessible.
I needed tricks to get near it, strategies to cut through the belt of numbness that formed each time I made a move toward it. I needed company to look inside it, other voices to confirm that those things I carried inside me were real, that I had not made them up. My parents could not help me with this; they were part of it. Psychiatrists I distrusted; they had even more names to disguise things than I had already tried. There had to be other people like me, who shared what I carried, who had their own version of my iron box. There had to be, I thought, an invisible, silent family scattered about the world.
I am not a whole person. Whole people have access to their feelings. I do not. My iron box is a vault composed of inaccessible feelings and memories that, for the most part, are beyond recollection. My personality lies on an inert foundation, which is a frozen wasteland.