There is a place in the heart that holds all the words unsaid.

Do you go there?

Like an unopened wooden box you’ve been keeping over the years covered with stuff at the bottom of your top drawer.

You want to pretend you forgot about it. Yet you know it’s there, and sooner or later, you got to see what’s in it.

Curiosity creeps in at the most unexpected moments.

Maybe when you are stuck in rush-hour traffic in the middle of an LA freeway.

Or at the airport, when you are sitting at gate 53, waiting for your next flight.

Perhaps when your lover calls and asks you, hey babe, how you doin’ but something in his voice brings you to that damn box, and your attention span is lost in WhatsApp land.

It’s the same with the space that holds your words. The heart protects it, but it’s there; a family of red ants that never takes a break.

There are words you don’t say out loud because they don’t sound pretty.

They remind you of your math teacher scribbling random numbers on that huge board you struggled to see when you forgot your glasses.

You know if you speak them, whoever hears them is going to question your discerning judgment. So you hold your disobedient tongue pressing against the roof of your mouth and tell it to shut up.

Then there are those you whisper to yourself.

The soothing ones that feel like the coconut balm you massage into your dry hands before bed.

You speak them softly when you need comfort in the middle of the night. When you can’t sleep because the next day’s to-do list presses heavily on your chest, a hot water bottle left there for too long.

The mantra you have been repeating for years rolls off your lips like honey on toast and brings you solace.

The eyes get heavy, and you can finally get some rest.

And then there are those you speak when you want to punish yourself.

The martyr version of you looking for a feast (oh hello pain body).

Why do you do that?

A little stomping brat is inside your brain playing the drum with memories. And I’m not talking about your inner child because that’s you — grown up.

I’m referring to that naughty little kid you don’t want to listen to who tells you you did wrong, you shouldn’t have, you should have, and you are crazy, stupid, fat, insensitive, and selfish. Someone make it stop!

And so you keep these in that little place at the center of the heart. It’s starting to get too crowded, but you continue. Relentlessly. As if pretend-laughter, Netflix, sweets, and more shopping could be the fixer-upper.

Why is it still hurting, though?

The moral of the story.

The time to play pretend is over.

Stop shoving stuff inside the overflowing box of memories: words unsaid and those spoken too quickly.

Sooner or later, you got to lift the cover and open it. Shaking hands, dry mouth, heartbeat racing, and all.

Look at what’s inside.

Take note of it.

Feel the burning pain in the pit of your stomach that’s already on fire.

And move on.

Thanks for reading