Many years ago, I sat in my Aunt Sondra’s house and she introduced me to a big pillow.
She called this pillow, “The Angry pillow,” and said, “You can do whatever you want to that pillow. You can pick it up and slam it down. You can kick it, punch it, choke it and shake it. You can yell at it too. And yelling is good! You can do anything you want to The Angry Pillow because that’s what it’s there for.”
But I was hesitant.
The pillow was multicolored and stood nearly as high as my chin. Its width was half the measure of its height, and there were a few welcoming indentations located in the mid-section, or belly of the pillow.
It was stuffed with white, cotton like stuffing, which I assume is the same ingredients from any other of its kind, and the horizontal bands of color gave The Angry Pillow a decorative look from the early 70’s.
Aunt Sondra encouraged me, “Go ahead.”
She told me, “It’ll be fun.”
But I couldn’t move for some reason.
I wanted to . . . but I just couldn’t
The pillow was on the floor in the middle of my Aunt’s home office. The carpet was crème-colored and the leather couches were soft white. There was an easiness to the room; there was something relaxing about it and perfectly quiet.
The walls were light in color and the wooden shutters at the windows were only a shade darker. And of any room I have seen throughout my life, I remember this one clearest.
I was very young at the time; perhaps somewhere near the age of 10, and I was either unable or unsure how to express myself.
I felt different or unfitting—but I could not express why or explain how.
I was shorter than most at my age. I was too thin and somewhat weak. I knew how to throw a ball and catch it too, but not well enough to be picked first when they chose teams on the playground at school.
I wanted to be cool and I tried hard to fit in, but trying hard to fit in is like trying to run in a bad dream; your legs stick to the ground and the harder you try, the more it seems as if you’re legs are melting into the ground or running in quicksand. And that’s how I felt in social situations.
That’s how I felt when I couldn’t fit in
Aunt Sondra asked, “What are you waiting for? Go ahead . . . The Angry Pillow can’t hurt you.” But again, I did not move towards the pillow.
I only looked at it.
We are asked countless questions throughout our life; some we remember and others vaporize and vanish into the unimportant place where useless questions go. However the ones we remember, we remember them for a reason.
“What are you afraid of,” she asked.
“Why won’t you let it go?”
And by, “It,” Aunt Sondra meant the internal struggles, which often hold us back.
After I put aside my insecurity, and after moved passed the idea that, “Cool kids don’t play with big pillows,” I was faced with the undressed version of myself.
I was faced with truth.
I was too afraid to let go or give in—because if I did, this would surrender me to the truth of my emotions.
To me, submitting was the same as admitting my fears and failures were true, which makes them real and undeniable.
Submitting would only force me to recognize my awkwardness, and letting go meant that I would have accept my differences and be myself . . .
But who would I be then?
I remember how quiet the room seemed. Aunt Sondra waited for me to move closer to the pillow.
“Do you want me to leave you alone,” she asked.
“I could go into the other room and then you won’t feel uncomfortable.”
Aunt Sondra stood and left the room. She closed the door behind her, and there I sat, looking but not moving towards the pillow.
We are truly an amazing species. We are often given methods and solutions to help ourselves; however, we remain still in the fear of our own progression.
Not long after, Aunt Sondra returned. She noticed that I was seated on the floor, which was the same spot I was in when she left the room.
Then she picked up the pillow and threw it back down to the floor.
She encouraged, “Now you do it!”
And when I did not move, she kicked the pillow.
And again she encouraged, “Now you go!”
It was not long before I stood with a somewhat uncomfortable smile. I kicked the pillow. Then I punched it on the floor.
“Shout at it,” she couched.
I picked The Angry Pillow up over my head, and then I slammed it to the ground. I grunted and yelled as I tossed the pillow across the floor, from couch to couch, and wall to wall.
Next, I noticed I was alone in the room. Aunt Sondra allowed me the time to vent my frustrations on my own, and without any coaching. I did not here my Aunt leave the room, nor did I hear the door close behind her. I was too busy.
Mounting over The Angry Pillow, I threw as many punches as I could to the pillow’s indented belly, or mid-section. I threw everything I had into The Angry Pillow—and after I built a sweat, and spent all of my energy, Aunt Sondra returned.
“See, I told you The Angry Pillow couldn’t hurt you.”
Many years later, Aunt Sondra passed away.
I recall my last visits to her home after she left us. I helped box some of her belongings and I collected some of the old photographs. I helped her sons, my cousins, with the final clean out of her home . . . and there it was, The Angry Pillow, sitting on the corner of her office.
I kept that pillow. I still have it too—but I never hit it.
I never kick it or beat it.
I kept the pillow because I see it as a reminder that I don’t ever have to be afraid. There is always a way to communicate my feelings or frustrations.
I just need to learn how and not be afraid to let them go.
And by “Them,” I mean the internal struggles, which often hold me back.
The big pillow is still filled with white, cotton-like material, which is no different from others of its kind. And the same goes for you and me.
We are all filled with the same ingredients, we just cover them differently . . .
I kept The Angry Pillow because it is a reminder that surrender is not always weakness; but instead, letting go and giving in shows the willingness and bravery it takes to start over and begin again.
Also, I kept The Angry pillow because I saw it as a gift from my Aunt Sondra.
I know this was her way of telling me “You don’t ever have to look far for me.”
This was her way of saying, “I’ll be in the other room if you need.”
And, “If you ever feel stuck and there’s no way to express yourself, always remember The Angry Pillow can’t hurt you.”
That’s my Aunt Sondra for you
Even in the afterlife—she still gives gifts to the people she loves.