the walls are closing in

I have had a recurring dream since a child. A nightmare. 

I am in a cave and the walls of the cave are closing in. That's it. That's the dream. I don't escape. I don't even try to escape. I accept my fate of being crushed by ever closer and closer walls. More than the visual of the dream, I remember the feeling in my body. It is tangible. visceral, real. 

The feeling rises up in me in my wake time when I feel cornered, trapped. It is strong in me when I am beating my fists against these walls closing in. Walls represent my limitations. It's my age, my stage, my rage. It's the unspoken but so solid expectations and assumptions that shaped who I would be as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. I silently accepted my role for a long time but now I've been hammering at these walls for the better part of a decade. 

Then again, walls represent the gift of solitude, of space to work, of possibilities. Virginia Woolf talks about having a room of your own. How do you have a room without walls? I want those walls, please. I want to work uninterrupted and supported. I want my work to matter as much as another's. I want my possibilities to be more than domestic. 

Today is a day of feeling closed in, of pushing back, of flinging myself up against my limitations. Anger has risen and I've pulled it in, not willing to destroy the person across from me. He loves me. He is not my oppressor. If anything we are in the cave together and most certainly the entity that is us is affected. It is the underlying system, it is the mindset, it is the roles we step into without questioning. The walls feel so close right now. And I can't breathe. 

 

Women piece together their lives from the scraps left over for them.
— terry tempest williams, when women were birds