Each of us has words we associate with experiences and feelings. Rain can bring rainbows or thick mud and brown days. The scent of an Apple pie cooking can be soothing. The sound of peepers at sunset singing for rain may lull you to sleep.
I've lived with words I avoid. Words who bring dark boxes I've put in locked corners of my mind back to the forefront. Like venomous snakes slithering somehow through cracks back out along the edge of perception until an unknowing person innocently drops one like a grenade into the conversation. I physically wince like ice cream hit a nerve in a broken tooth.
The word Joy. It means happiness, exuberance. It was my mother's name. She had a wonderful public mask she strived to be believed as being. She still does. She chased and earned the adoration of the community and my siblings. I was the unwanted child. She had wanted a divorce and an abortion. Face and public opinion were more important. I paid. Those who got close enough saw through her and were there for me. When her bipolar symptoms went unmedicated and she used child protective services as my childhood boogyman, it was my great grandmothers who intervened. She screamed in an empty house as I cried outside hugging reluctant kittens and wondering why life was like this. Joy. Joy screaming. Joy hostile hitting where it would not leave a bruise. Joy threatening to kick me out, so I'd live in a barn or have to pay rent at my own home as a teen. Joy screaming threats when I was asked out by a boy at age 16. Joy intensely telling me how stupid and worthless almost daily for most of my childhood. Joy that my siblings were wanted and oblivious and my father was spineless. I was alone in an unreal reality. No matter how much I achieved I couldn't become valued. The word Love was a weapon wielded just before an emotional net would be dropped and tormenting psychological games would ensue. I learned to hide. I learned to survive. I learned psychology. I learned avoidance. I learned to strive. I learned to ensure. I learned I wanted more than to exist in a world with that kind of Joy.
That is what Joy was.
Not anymore. I disowned my parents years ago. I ran. I've crossed the country dropping baggage at each beautiful place and with each achievement. The shadow of the past always had a feeling of dread. These horrible unhealthy people would force their way back into my head. Then I realized they cannot. I pick who is in my heart and in my head. I'm not running anymore. Their baggage is gone. There's no feeling left. Joy doesn't hurt anymore.
Joy is a beautiful day with friends. Joy is a feeling of happiness after a great achievement. Joy is a purring kitten held close, the sound of bluebird on a sunny day, the shared shenanigans of silly side jokes. Joy is what I make it. Its my choice.
I'm digging through the old boxes, I'm releasing the snakes out of my head. They were not anything to be afraid of.
The part of me that gave them power was and it's long past time for me to own that.
What do you have locked in your head? Have you taken the time to look again and reassess? Take the power out of the larger than life villains, see how pathetic they become in the light of grown up life.
Leave the baggage in the past and see where tomorrow takes you.