Friday, January 15, 2021

Little Places

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

Steam ~ shower ~ cold weather ~ space heater ~ closet

Submitted by:


I used to hide in my closet.

When I was a kid, there was seriously no where safer in my dad's house--4 walls, a tiny space but big enough to lounge on pillows and read, and away from anyone who might spot me and try to hurt me. I spent hours in there reading book after book and pretending I was anywhere else but home. Home was shouting and hurt and pain and fear while books let me live in magical places with talking cats and weird siblings and cute girls. Holding a book in my safe spot, I knew I would never have clicked my heels 3 times a la Dorothy of Oz and gone back to the place that hurt me so many times.

Except I did. 

Teenage me, traumatized by my parents and boys and life, returned to that house maybe a year after my mom left it because she moved on quickly with a man who despised my existence as much as I did his, and they made things bad enough that I'd rather be hit than stay. I needed my closet.

It didn't last long, living there. But my preference for small spaces where I could hide from the world and sit in my emotions or hide from them too never left. I couldn't hide in my closet at my mom's and none of my apartments had any with much space, so the shower became my refuge.

I posted as a dark joke a status on Facebook recently about people not taking showers whether because of depression or chronic illness. Where the fuck do you cry then, I asked. Because fuck if I know. That's my place... it's the one place I get to be alone without even animals watching my shame and grief and it's still my one place to escape. I've spent a lot of hours with podcasts and audiobooks in showers thinking about anything but what was going on in my life. In cold weather I crank up my little space heater and the hot water and let the steam cleanse my soul. And in summers I turn the hot water all the way down so I can feel something besides the humid weight of the south's hellfires.

I plan out conversations in there, scrub my soul of all its roughness, and let the tears roll if I need to. I plan stories and learn about fascism and laugh with podcast hosts. There's something about being hidden away from everything that helps me let my guard down and it started with the safety I felt in my closet at home. that the best I can do?

As a queer woman I stopped living in the metaphorical gay closet at 15. I was still a baby. A traumatized, too old for her years baby but still very much a baby and I knew then I shouldn't hide who I am. So why do I still need the shower to feel ok? I don't think it's particularly healthy not to want to cry or let my guard down in front of anyone else. I don't think I should be embarrassed or afraid to let myself be vulnerable. But knowing and undoing are two very different things.

I was taught that crying is shameful and gets you nothing but hurt. "Shut that crying up or I'll really give you something to cry about" was shouted at me always. I wasn't allowed to have the feelings I did without mockery and abuse. I was taught crying is *b a d* and being upset isn't allowed. But I was taught a whole lot of other shit I've let go that didn't serve the person I wanted to be, too. And it's time for this to end.

The shower is the last stranglehold on a me that too often keeps herself behind a fortress of walls and moats filled with alligators, that keeps her pain and hurt locked away behind teeth and booby traps (ok a pun sue me). But I don't want to be that person who can't be held for fear she'll cry more, who can't let anyone see that softer side for fear it will be exploited. I want to be someone whose vulnerability matches the toughness, who knows how to let the right people in and close off the rest because not everyone deserves to be there...but some do.

I don't want to be resilient because I don't allow myself to feel all the things that make it harder to keep going in the moment and push them down and bury them until I have time for them later. Maybe we put too much emphasis on resiliency without realizing sometimes resilient, strong people are the ones who have struggled the most and need people the most and are too afraid to ask because that same resilency comes from repeatedly being let down...

I don't want to be resilient. I want to be supported as much as I am supportive.

We get once to do this life thing in my personal opinion. Just the once. And I don't want to be at the end of my once with regrets on what I could and should have done to be the best version of me not by societal standards but my own. So showers are going to have to be for washing hair and maybe still for listening to podcasts and feeling refreshed but not for tears. Gonna have to reserve some shoulders for that.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Wandering Web Designer

The Crazy Mama Llama


  1. The balance of vulnerability and strength is difficult for most of us, but for you trauma could keep that sweet spot out of reach. It seems your greatest strength right now, is coming to terms with your personal vulnerability. You've come further than most people could or would. I know you'll keep taking those steps.

  2. This literally broke me because it took me back to those days when I would also hide in my closet. Not from my parents, but from a brother who molested me from the age of three. To this day I still prefer small spaces as well. At our old how I made my office out of a closet because I could feel safe. Even today my office is the smallest room in our mobile home because it's tiny and mine and everyone knows to stay out! Our families can often cause more scars than anything else and I'm sorry you have so many!