The White Room

I had a dream that I was in a couple’s bright and airy contemporary home. Off-white walls showcased nondescript off-white art in a living room about 30’ long. The kitchen and dining area, also off-white, ran parallel along the living room’s long wall. The only color came from a 10’ long decorative pit that separated the rooms. Looking more closely I realized that the pit was filled with broken cups and glasses of all different shapes and colors. They had kept every broken cup and glass from childhood through the present, tossing them in as if saving them in a vault. The only way to get from one room to another was to detour around the pit, but they walked as if they didn’t even notice it.

The broken cups and glasses are a metaphor for all of the disappointments, slights, and betrayals that they have experienced. All of the lost dreams, broken hearts and unmet expectations collected and stored for safekeeping. Just as the pit stored the couple’s broken shards of glass, our minds store our despondent memories. There are many reasons that we hold our sadness fresh, but there are two that stand out. First, we may feel comfortable, at times even prideful, in seeing ourselves as the victim. It wasn’t MY fault is a common defense. Yes, you’re right, it may not be your fault. But when you allow past experiences to define you, you’re not taking responsibility for the present. Second is that we think that we have no choice. We believe that whatever happened in our past left such an impactful impression that having it as a constant presence in the back of our minds is perfectly natural and unavoidable. It is perfectly natural but it is not unavoidable.

Like the couple in my dream, we can become so adept at averting our broken glass that we aren’t even aware of the shadow that it casts on every moment of our lives. Living with the weight of untreated trauma is like living with a thin layer of fog between you and every possible positive emotion and experience.

At some point something will trigger you in a good way. You may see a happy couple affectionately laughing with each other, a family enjoying each other’s company, a person walking in nature, smiling and just loving the day. At some point it will hit you that happiness is real. And then remember, not only is happiness real, it’s attainable. Whatever you’ve experienced in your life, joy and happiness are available to you.
Healing your mind is hard work. You need intention, commitment, determination and help. But the benefits outweigh the effort so dramatically that you’ll be thanking yourself every day for taking on this rewarding challenge.
For more info check out my post Living With Trauma:


  1. I enjoyed this post and needed to hear happiness is out there if we look for it. As I’ve been struggling the past couple of days and need to just stop and breathe which there doesn’t seem enough time to do.

  2. What a dream and I can see how untreated trauma can seem like living in the fog. I like to remember trauma but realize it’s part of life and not let it define me as I move forward.

    • Not let it define me. I like that, Martha. Forgetting is unrealistic but accepting it as only a part of us is a healthy goal.

  3. Thanks for sharing this insightful post! It resonated with me very much and I appreciate the time you took to compose your thoughts.
    Have a wonderful day, and good luck in the UBC!

    • I’m so glad that it resonated with you. Good luck to you too! UBC is challenging and it’s so much fun to meet new people.

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