dark corridor with doors

Earlier in the chapter I quoted in my previous blog post, the protagonist says something that I found fascinating, sad, and immediately recognizable:

“I don’t let my thoughts touch the sides as I take the crowbar out of the toolbox . . .”

“I don’t let my thoughts touch the sides”: I get that; I have felt that way before.

Do you; have you?

Later in the novel All the Birds, Singing, the author, Evie Wyld, has the protagonist say something similar, expanding upon the idea:

“I walk down the corridor of my brain and don’t even look at the doors either side.”

Wow, what powerful imagery: a picture of numbness. Why doesn’t the protagonist want to make contact with the sides, look at the doors, or—God forbid—walk through those doors? Why does she endeavor to go straight down the middle, focusing only on stepping cautiously forward?

Wyld expands on this idea even further, later in the novel, but the idea is understandable even after reading just these two short passages. When something bad has happened in your past—an event, or many events, so horrifying or shameful or depressing or otherwise traumatic that you can’t bear to think of them—the memories continue to reside in your brain, whether you want them there or not. Sometimes it is more comfortable and less anxiety provoking to avoid thinking or feeling at all, so as not to risk touching upon one of the danger areas.

If you have never felt this way—felt so paralyzingly numb that you could not bear to let your thoughts touch the sides—count yourself lucky, young, otherwise blessed, or more than one of the above. If, like me, you have? Well, we’re only human.

And maybe, one day, letting your thoughts touch the sides will feel not so bad, and walking through the doors will feel not so awful, after all.

Know what I mean?