The Paint On My Walls

Photo by Robin Schreiner

Photo by Robin Schreiner

There are some things that lose value when you bring them from the spirit to the physical. Memories, private pain, and fear aren’t as sacred when you try to stuff them into the carcass of words. Like shoving a queen into a dress that’s too small just to make her sit at a table that’s too short and eat soup with a fork. If there was a museum wall that I could pin my twists to, I would. I would secretly linger nearby just to hear others lament with me. If I felt like I’d be understood, I’d open all of the doors in my mind, pull out all the paintings I made and fill the walls with my canyons of echoes, my rivers of fury, my howling nights, and the epitaphs of everyone who got eaten by my beasts just to know me. I can load cheap brushes with cheap paint and make indiscriminate stokes on a canvas, and sometimes that’s good enough.

I’ll talk about the things that no longer haunt me. But I won’t talk about everything. I won’t use every inch of my human experience like a desperate plea for relevance and attention. I’ve seen it it done and it lasts only moments until the attention is off to consume someone else’s sacrifice. Every genre has the overshare. The Lifetime movie version.

The National Archives Museum in Washington D.C. holds a copy of the Declaration of Independence incased and in a vault about seven (if I remember correctly) stories below ground. It only comes up a few times a year and it’s heavily guarded by decorated soldiers of every branch of the military. People can come by to see it, but they can’t take photos of it. The light, the flash photography, and just general exposure would fade the ink and start to break down the structure of the paper. It’s sacred, so it’s kept hidden.

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
— John 1:5 MSG

Therapy would tell you that if you want to diminish the power of something in your life, you need to bring it into the light. Put the queen in real clothes. See how she struggles to keep her composure when she’s eating soup with a fork. If you have anxiety, make a daily appointment with that inner voice and let it tell you everything bad it thinks is going to happen. They say that your anxiety will wait for your appointment and stop texting you for attention all day. If you are being hurt, blackmailed, or otherwise controlled in the dark, then tell someone. Telling someone gets you help and out from under the control. If you’re afraid of something, expose yourself to it, face it, and the fear diminishes to something more manageable. Light, flash photography, and exposure weakens the darkness. Dark ink, dark mood,…


I’ll talk about my shame because I don’t have to wear it. I’ll talk about my childhood because I don’t have to use it as an excuse to fail. Grace saved me and gave me a voice. It’s not lost on me that my salvation and subsequent voice came on the back of embarrassing and shameful sin. That dichotomy is the well that never runs dry. I chose to not use what others have done to me as an excuse to not do anything with my life. I refuse to let them have that power.

But, I won’t talk about everything. I might put a painting up on the museum wall but leave off the info card. I want to dust off some stuff, but don’t want to talk about it. And I don’t want anyone else to talk about it either. It’s not hurting me. It’s just a raging river running through my canyons.