Why I'm still not reading my box of letters from boarding school
Nearly two years ago my mum gave me a wonderful present for my 40th birthday. Tied up, in a blue box, were all the letters I wrote in the five years I was at boarding school, from age 11 to age 16. I nearly cried, I was so touched.
I talked about it and blogged about it for a couple of days. And then I put the box away at the top of my cupboard, unopened, without even a tiny peek inside.
The thought of opening that box fills me with dread and terror. I just don't want to do it. At least, I tell myself that I don't want to do it in some haphazard way in the middle of normal life. I'd have to go away. Get prepared. Give it time.
But even if I took myself away for a few days, to a safe, beautiful place, I still don't know if I would want to open them.
The most obvious reason for not wanting to read them is because they'll bring back old pains and hurts and tears. I try to avoid my scars. Some things took a long time to heal. Others didn't heal well, but I've found ways not to limp too obviously.
But that's only one reason.
The bigger reason, which has only just become clear to me, is because, for some reason, I am embarrassed. Embarrassed and ashamed of the person I am/was at the ages of 11, 12, 13, 14, 15.
I can hardly even explain this. It's not as if I was awful or did terrible things or have some dark secret to hide. It's shame about my childish innocence and naivete, as if for some reason I should have had the wisdom and smarts I have now, at the age of 40.
Most people only have photographs to bring back their junior high school days. It's pretty rare for anyone to have more than one or two old diaries. Because of that, I'm guessing that it's reasonably easy to 'remake' your embarrassing self in your own mind, if, indeed, you ever bother to think about those days at all.
I'm going to have to deal with this. If I'm so embarrassed and ashamed about my young self that I can't read old letters, surely that's got to have some kind of play into how I think/am/operate now. And I've decided: next year will be the time to sort it out; go away, read the letters and write about it all.
In the meantime, I'll just try to avoid looking at the blue box in my cupboard.