Closeted Openings: Unlocking an Existence Beyond the Physical

After making a life – changing decision to go on living around the age of 10, most of my existence was characterized by anger. This was sole emotion I leaned on and allowed me to survive most of my middle school years. I wasn’t the type of person to lash out in anger. Instead, my anger stewed within me until I converted it into a dramatic diary entry or fed it into my video games. It wasn’t really until 8th grade that I started to resist that emotion. I didn’t realize the inevitability of anger’s destruction. It was slowly consuming me. There had to be a way to let go and still survive.

One of the outlet I developed for dealing with my anger was a sort of meditation. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. All I knew is that it worked.

This poem was written on October 4th, 2004. I was 14-years-old and a freshman in high school.

Closeted (Opening)

I sit in a dark corner

all light fades away

I lift myself out of my body

Life has left me today

I prepare to let go

to leave this world behind

the darkness surrounds me

then I open my eyes

Fun Fact: most of the poems in my little note-book don’t have a title, yet. I create the titles when I write these posts based on what I know about the girl who wrote them. I chose to call this poem by two names: Closeted and Opening. Closeted is a literal interpretation. When I felt my anger overwhelming me, I would often shut myself into my bedroom closet. Sitting on the floor, I’d tear off clothes from their hangers to stuff under the door and to hang over the key hole so that no light could enter.

Closing my eyes, I imagined the world was gone. This happened in steps. First, I would erase the outside world  from my mind. Then I would erase the people and places I knew until all that was left was me and my room. Then I’d remove my room, my closet and then my body. Limb by limb, my physical existence disappeared and I was nothing but a spirit, a soul, a consciousness. In the complete darkness, I could open my eyes and see the same as I did with my eyes closed. There was no light and my illusion was complete. There wasn’t a shadow in the dark to distract from my inner reflection. It was from this place that I would dissect the origin of my anger.

This photo, “meditation” is copyright (c) 2014 Alice Popkorn and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

With nothing left but a sort of metaphysical existence, there were no parents, no peers and no society on which I could place my anger. In my meditative state, thoughts like “if only my parents understood” or “if only Stacy hadn’t done that mean thing” were never uttered. My parents didn’t exist. Stacy didn’t exist. There was only me.

This was always a bit uncomfortable because it forced me to face my demons head on. It forced me to see my flaws for what they were, but it also showed me the path to self-improvement. I feel like I grew leaps and bounds in this state because I avoided any concept of blame. I was always to blame.

Once I found the root of my anger, the next question would inevitably be whether there was any hope for change. If it was a trait or action exclusive to me, then I felt relief in that I could actively work to improve that part of myself. On the other hand, if the source of my anger was something outside of my control, then there was no point to my anger. Why waste energy worry about something impossible for me to change? That energy is always put to better use changing things that can change.

This is where the term Open comes into play. I felt like I was opening myself up to something greater than myself. For a short moment, my entire existence was on some sort of spiritual plane where, free from the distractions of physical life, I could work towards finding my true self.

How did you deal with anger as a child? How did you handle the mix of crazy emotions that come with being a teenager? When did finally grow out of the blame game and start taking responsibility for your emotions? Have you ever tried to track down an essence of yourself that exist outside of the physical world?


42 thoughts on “Closeted Openings: Unlocking an Existence Beyond the Physical”

  1. Your 14 year old self certainly had an interesting way of coping. It is very Zen. It was also very mature to find the root of your anger in yourself instead of in others. Although I had the typical roller coaster ride most teens have, I don’t think it was anything like you’re talking about. Then, as now, I walked to sort out my problems.

    1. It didn’t always erase my anger, but it at least calmed me down. I’m thankful because I think the practice kept me out of a lot of fights with my parents.

  2. What an awesomely insightful teen you were! This is something that I eventually learned to do, more through logic than meditation. Now, you’re making me want to try the meditation part.
    Thinking back to my teen years, I’m certain that I had anger, resentment and jealousy, but I never dared to express it. My father was a true rage-aholic and alcoholic. The last thing my mom needed was someone else behaving in anger. My acting out mechanism was that of the class and at-home clown; always trying to bring levity to diffuse the situation or gain attention. I’m not sure where my negative emotions would go, but they eventually faded though finding humor and laughter in even the crappiest of situations. I’m still this way, and without the former stress that I had in my childhood, I’m a very at peace person.

    1. I remember one ‘fight’ I had with my parents. Whatever my dad said (I remember feelings more than details), I felt like he misunderstood what I did and tried to explain. He cut me off, yelling at me not to talk back. I was so pissed, I just stayed silent and nodded my head. I wasn’t listening anymore. I was just waiting for my chance to exit the situation. It was clear to me that he wasn’t interested in listening to me. It dawned on me in that situation that my decision to ignore what he had to say was a reaction to him yelling at me. Since then, I just can’t do the yell and scream thing. No one listens to a person who yells. There must be another way to express anger other than yelling. Maybe your humor was actually acting as an outlet for your anger.

  3. I didn’t even finish reading the full article but had to comment. I LOVE the candid quote “inevitability of anger’s destruction”. It is so wise and incredibly profound. You write like Sages and Philosophers of old. I really enjoy your writing and am almost moved by your life stories.

  4. i used to bottle it up. I covered it, and buried it, and made every attempt to conceal it. I didn’t know how to handle it. Later in life, it all came out – with disastrous consequences… Now, I manage it by being realistic about my expectations which are – none. I set the bar low, that way I am always peasantry surprised. Nothings shocks me anymore…it’s just like, “wow”…or, “good God”…

    1. Yeah, my grade school and middle school years were where I did a lot of bottling up…. and it was very destructive emotionally. Now, I just embrace whatever happens. I acknowledge it and let it go. I think we are similar in our low expectations. Or, to say it differently, I think we are both just open to anything happening. Whatever happens, happens.

  5. This shutting out of the world sounds like you have found a good coping mechanism. I am still struggling with my anger even now. It flares up at times when I lose track of some of my emotions for a while. My method of dealing is simply to avoid things that might make me angry. That means to avoid pretty much most situations of interacting with people, most of the time. Other than to be formal and polite. Alongside that, exercise and running are a release of energy for me to stop it building up inside.

    1. I’m not perfect at dealing with my anger. Now that I’ve moved away from where I grew up, it’s really easy for me to avoid memories that make me angry. Sometimes I worry that is slowing down my progress. I don’t have to confront something that’s not in front of me.

      Or maybe that’s just normal. I’ll never ever attend a high school reunion because I just don’t want to deal with those people. ever.

  6. Insight is powerful in how you learned to do what very few people realize they need to do and that is to destroy anger by releasing it, This is the only way: by giving it up. Meditation is one way, and you found the way to get rid of it. In that those who know about meditation would say that you have traveled farther and further than most. Meditation is a very powerful practice. In this busy world of distractions and anger is a distraction, as well as hate people, time, the world around us Just listening by the words you use it shows that you have traveled far in that journey of knowing who you are by the journey. Not of a thousand miles but one that is a beginning step in the right direction.

    1. I’m still not perfect at it yet. Sometimes, memories from those days creep in on me and they bring the anger with them. I also had a lot of anger when my parents figured out what I was doing. I mean, they didn’t know what I was really doing. They just figured out that, when TK gets angry, she hides in her closet. I remember hearing one of them say “oh, there she goes. Off to lock herself in the closet again.” I felt like my sanctuary had been punctured and had to find a new place. The way it was said, like it was the stupidest thing in the world, really pissed me off too. I guess I wasn’t telling them exactly what I was doing in there, so they didn’t have the ability to understand. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the ability to think like that at that age. I just thought they were being mean.

  7. I don’t know that you ever “grow out of it”. If the inclination (habit, preference, psychological makeup, whatever) is to lean on anger (or depression in my case) then I think that it’s always right there waiting. You can close the door on it, certainly, but I don’t think it goes away. While I don’t meditate per se, I have learned to recognize the pattern and, for lack of a better description, give myself a mental kick in the pants to snap out of it and let it go.

    I think that, like most unproductive self-vision, depression and anger are malformed versions of self-interest or selfishness. What we learn with meditation, self-reflection, and maturity is that they are, in fact, the opposite of self-interest and rather a reflection of our perceived frustration at our inability to successfully deal with (or manipulate) the world around us. Lots of words, but a rather simple concept – just let it go and live.

    1. You know, I never really saw how similar depression and anger were until I read your comment. Up until the age of 10, I lived off of depression. When that nearly killed me, I traded it for anger. In reality, I was just using the same thing. They were both emotions based on self hate. And I supposed, in some warped sense, self hate is a sort of self obsession – which is a very selfish thing.

  8. Loving this post! I dealt with my emotions pretty much the same way, although at the time I didn’t realize the reason I was doing it. During summer break from jr high, I’d take a little tv into a closet and watch soap operas from 11 to 3!! Their world was much more easier than mine. I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions do I’d escape from them. FUN!!

    1. Yep, just like me. I had no idea what I was really doing. I just knew it made me feel better, so I kept doing it. I suppose I’m lucky I found that as an outlet, instead of something more destructive.

  9. “When did you finally grow out of the blame game and start taking responsibility for your emotions?”

    When I became an adult and actually had control over my life. Before that point, the anger is inevitable because no matter what I did I was stuck in the same shitty life.

    “Have you ever tried to track down an essence of yourself that exist outside of the physical world?”

    I kinda had this visualization exercise the last time I was in labor – I envisioned my soul as a point of light in my heart that grew, encompassed my heart, rose through my head up through the atmosphere and off of this planet, seeking the Creator, joining with Him and watching His life force come back to the planet and all around the universe, infusing everything with life as He created it all.

    That lasted about 3 minutes before I begged for the epidural.


    1. I sometimes wonder if everyone grows out of the blame game, though. I can think of a number of politicians who haven’t risen above that yet.

      Also, that was beautiful…. but (having never had a child before) I’d always go with the epidural. There’s no way I’m dealing with that pain if I don’t have to.

      1. Epidurals are indeed miraculous. After insurance I paid $176 – totally worth it. As I understand it, the only real risk is that if you’ve never had a baby before and don’t have that muscle memory of how to push during delivery, your muscles don’t know what to do and it can be difficult to progress. But I wouldn’t let that stop you – not too many people have that issue from what I understand.

      2. “I sometimes wonder if everyone grows out of the blame game, though.”

        You’re right of course – not everyone does grow out of the blame game. I think it’s because it’s not something that happens naturally – it’s definitely a choice that requires some effort mentally.

  10. As a child, when I became angry I would run. In doing this I became a part of the energy of the world, attuned to nature if you will. I would run, my small body tearing a path through the wind whipping around me. Then faster, no longer hearing the world around me as I became the wind. Then my steps would grow lighter as the speed increased and I would become one with the wind.

    As a teenager I unfortunately grew a large chest so my dreams of running as fast as I once did were shattered like glass at my feet. The only thing I could do was cry, and cry I did. I was a HUGE crybaby <- Terrible thing for a mother to call her child. I couldn't discuss situations with others in ways that would make them understand how I felt so I just cried. I honestly don't remember when I stopped feeling that way. One day I just stopped caring if anyone understood 🙂

    I can and always have been able to touch the existence outside the physical world. My best experience was when I was 8 and I lucid dreamed for the 1st time. The worst was when I acknowledged the void that makes up the non-physical world and started falling into it. Scared me to death feeling myself slip into endless darkness falling infinitely. It was really hard to reattach to reality, I thought I'd actually died. I was really draining 😦

    1. That’s kind of sad… although certainly you could still run with big boobs…. Mine aren’t very big, so I guess I can’t really connect to how they would be a problem. Sorry. I get the crying thing, though. When I get really angry, and I can’t find an outlet or a dark place to shut myself into, I cry. I do that instead of yelling. It’s super annoying because sometimes I’d rather intimidate people with my anger, but instead I cry.

  11. Great post. I love how you discuss your 14-yo self from an adult’s perspective. Clever and insightful.
    When I was younger I was out of touch with most of my feelings, notably the big bad ones like anger. Certain emotions weren’t allowed in my house. Anger was one of them. It’s taken me years just to be able to get in touch with them, and even more time to get to that place of focusing on what I can control and letting go of all that I can’t.

    1. I know what you mean. I was far to scared to release my anger through yelling or any other sort of tantrums. I wasn’t one to rebel and outbursts like that were not tolerated. I guess I just stumbled upon this meditation thing because I needed to release the anger somehow.

  12. It was always tough for me — I’d bottle, explode, bottle, explode . . . it wasn’t until I was out of adolescence, in my mid- to late-twenties, that I came to and realized that in the dearth of positive guidance had a serious need to become my own guide in order to repair the disorganization of my life in order to become the kind of person that can operate in normal life and at least marginally succeed. Since then I’ve come further than I ever thought I would and I’m often surprised by the continued need for diligence and introspection on my part.

    Your meditation thing was a very good move for you developmentally, and in hindsight if I had had something like that I may have been better off for it — unfortunately, in my teenage years I was also struggling with undiagnosed narcolepsy and that’s the only reason I don’t trust myself to meditation that requires stillness. Still, I may try it someday, just to see; I might fall asleep, but maybe not. 🙂

    1. You know, I was lucky. I just stumbled across this method one day when I was angry and decided to shove myself in a closet. Really, I got lucky.

  13. I often found peace by going out in the woods and being alone. Feeling like a wild animal and leaving my human life in the city behind. I miss doing that actually. I haven’t found as much time to do that since I got my job.

    I often relax by playing a My Little Pony app on my ipod. We all have our ways of dealing with a hard life.

    I am not so sure that there is an existence outside the physical world. This brings me peace because I believe it will all end for me someday.

    1. I think there is at least consciousness, which is not a physical thing. It’s really just about focusing on the self and who you are as an individual. Out in the world, we are who we are in relation to what we see. Focusing on our self alows us to know who we are independent of other influences.

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