We keep things in closets, don’t we? Literally – clothing and other possessions – and metaphorically too. Secrets and withholds get locked in our psychological closet: Sexuality (hence the expression ‘coming out of the closet’ when one admits to being gay), lies and evasions, financial mismanagement, affairs – the list is endless, the average closet more capacious than we, perhaps, realise.
But why do we strive so hard to keep things contained, tidy, hidden, hung up, out of sight? What does it matter, given the brevity of life, if we wear our erotic hearts on our sleeves, and admit to fancying and loving and wanting to be with members of our own sex? What good does denial do to anyone?
And yet, for all too many of us, this obsessive cramming of difficult areas into cupboards and closets continues unabated. We even get keys cut, and purchase padlocks, so that no one else can see the baggage within.
But hiding things we do not want to face in a box does not actually diminish their power to frighten and disturb. On the contrary, anything pushed into the darkness of a hidey-hole and then locked away increases its hold over the hider exponentially – and a tiny white lie can, over time, expand first to fit the space in which it is immured and then, eventually, to burst its boundaries and spurt, spill, spoil all over the house.
There is a saying that your sins will find you out – and I think this is very true. From the apparently trivial (the woman who, terrified by her own spending habit, hides clothes, shoes, handbags and coats in a closet so that her husband doesn’t find out) to the most extreme (the murderer who bags up the bodies of his/her victims and leaves them to rot in the attic wardrobe), nature will, ultimately, give the game away – and the resulting fall-out is likely to be far worse than an immediate admission of wrong-doing would have been.
We hide things because we are frightened. We hide things because we want to manipulate the way others see us. We fill closets because we still seem to believe that out of sight really is out of mind – and that, if we can’t see it, no one else will be able to!
We delude ourselves, massively and damagingly.
Closets are useful, practical, space-saving. But we need to run them, and not the other way around!
And, if we keep too much in them, they will burst!