Sunday, 25 March 2012

The cage

As usual having an email exchange with my good friend Becca of Mutterings fame, she, as she invariably does, set my thinking going again about my situation.  And this time with an analogy.  Of a cage.  Becca noted that, “I think that you have so much of you locked away that Rhiannon will always find a way to get out of the cage.”

I thought about it long and hard and with one exception this life does feel like being held in a cage.  I feel like I live in a carefully defined small space designed to trap me in and to hide away what I really am.  The cage has a big lock that can’t easily be opened.  The weight of expectations keeps it firmly shut.  Mrs A.  Family.  Work.  Friends who want the best for me.  Society.

There is one really important thing that a cage is designed to do.  It is to trap and confine the inhabitant, restricting their freedom.  But I said that there was one exception with this particular cage.  The exception is that unfortunately, I made the cage and its locked from the inside.  I let the scary monsters back me into it.  And so afraid of them I was, that brick by brick I built it around myself.  Shielding them from seeing what I really am.  Then, when I’d built it, I added the biggest lock to it that I could find, so that they couldn’t see me and they couldn’t know what I was doing inside.

When they stop patrolling outside the cage, aren’t looking or are asleep, I unlock it carefully and sneak out.  I run free.  Happy.  Hopeful.  Squealing with pleasure.  And just as they are about to spot that I’ve escaped, I quickly creep back, in the hope that I never get seen missing.  Sometimes I think they’ve noticed, but fortunately, for a long while, they haven’t.  They think that I have stopped unlocking the door and escaping.  They believe that I’m sitting in my cage being happy, content that I’m enjoying my life.  They surmise that I now take pleasure in my new cage-life.  But I don’t.  I really don’t.  I hit my head against it everyday.  I cry that I am trapped.  I wish I could knock the walls down.  But I built it really well.  Really well.  And I’m not sure that I’m strong enough to demolish it.  Or that if I did destroy it, whether the monsters would devour me anyway once I got out.

There is no prince or princess coming to rescue me.  Its just me.  I need to change the story.  I need some strength and some bravery to face the expectations and the monsters.  I need to bust free of these confines.  I need to take hold of what Becca says and find my way out.


  1. I had written something in the comment box riffing / playing on the concept you'd made about the cage, but I ran out of steam. :-)

    It is safe inside the cage, but the price is a heavy one. If I can be deep - and a little bit dark at the same time - when it comes to the end, will you look back and wish you'd done it all differently?

    I'm not saying you should throw the door open and flick everyone the finger. :-) But, I wonder if it's possible to have some freedom. Yes, there will be a cost and it will not be easy. Really, only you can make that choice and do it. All I can offer are cheap words and cod wisdom, but I think you have it in you to do it. You've done well in your career, can that same strength be channeled to do something for yourself?


  2. Lynn,

    That's a shame - it would have been interesting to see your take on it. I don't very often indulge in creative whimsy, so I was surprised that I put it out there.

    I was deep from the other direction: wondering whether, looking back, I'd feel like I wasted too much time pursuing this at the expense of familial relationships. Also whether I would regret what inevitably at some point will ruin my marriage. Sorry if thats too dismal, but I can't see that I'll keep a lid on it for the next 30+ years.

    I'm scared that I would be able to do it, but that it might be career suicide and the scary monsters really are scary. Bit by bit the strength grows though...

    Rhi x

  3. Dismal? No, I didn't read it like that. I think how far from the cage depends on what you want. If it's full time, then, yes, you will have to face the monsters and battle them one at a time. Perhaps some will be awful, equally some will go well. I guess it comes down to what you need to do to be yourself. For some, part time is enough; others all the time and a rare few, the minor foray and then back into the confines of their proverbial cage.

  4. There is a line in the letter I intend to give to my parents that mirrors the comment from Lynn about looking back and wishing you'd done it all differently. For as I have got older I feel nothing but regret that I didn't have the courage to take a leap earlier. I didn't though and that's done but the future stretches before me (hopefully) but do I really wanted to spend it playing at life in a role that I never wanted for the perceived sensibilities of others?

    I have much to lose as you do - but the cage that was once my protection is now a prison.