They tell you to open up like you’re a vintage purse with a sweet little clasp and all it would take is a flick of the fingers to unfasten you, a little tug to open you wide and see all the way to the bottom, lined in pale pink silk, precious and commonplace all at once. They don’t know how many pockets and compartments you really have. They don’t want to see the spare bits of paper, the dried up candy covered in dust and ink, the broken paperclip that jabs at any fingers that stray too deep.
I traded that delicate purse string for a backpack, thick straps of reinforced nylon that promised to carry my baggage without bowing my shoulders. It didn’t work. It all drags you down eventually. And when they tell you to open up and let it out? They have no idea how much you’ve managed to horde over the years. They can’t possibly expect that volume of context spilling out. And what they never realize is that that’s not all of it. There are suitcases full in your darkest closets that even you are afraid to unpack. The skeletons of your dead dreams and expectations for a normal life zipped up inside like thirty years of Halloween spent nursing that one pack of off-brand Twizzlers by the light of a single orange light bulb when, the whole time, you had a haunted house at your disposal.
They don’t really want you to “open up”. They want you to be normal. They want easily identified anxieties that they can discover and cure so they can feel better about themselves. Because it’s not about you. It never was. Maybe if it had been, you’d be carrying a clutch. Just a little beaded bag of mild self-doubt you could take with you for convenience, unpack it for attention, and close it back up whenever the weather was fair. Maybe if it was ever about you, you wouldn’t need anything more than pockets. You’d only ever have to carry your keys. You’d only ever need to step into and out of your own life with the power to let anyone in or lock anyone out.
And you’d only ever let those in who didn’t demand that you… open up.