I like closets.
My earliest closet memory is from elementary school. I had a walk in closet. The floor contained a village of “littlest pet shop” toys. I’d sneak in at night when I was supposed to be asleep and silently act out scenarios with these toys. When finished, I’d arrange the toys to match the way they looked on the box they’d come in. However a box displayed a toy was the correct way for it to be used. Deviating from this was acceptable as long as it was returned properly in the end.
I’d also sneak into this closet and read. Reading in the closet was far better than under the covers with a flashlight.
When my family moved my brother and I argued over who would get what room. We both wanted the room with two closets. In the end I won and got that room. I don’t think my brother minded much, as the room he got was larger. I used one closet for clothing and the other I filled with pillows and blankets. It became a cozy reading corner.
In high school my mom and I had frequent arguments. Asking her to “leave me alone” resulted in the opposite effect. During a fight I’d sneak away and hide in one of my closets. I could wait safely under piles of clothing until things cooled down.
Closet-like situations are also nice. When I began self-injuring I’d do it in the bathtub with the shower curtain pulled closed. We didn’t have working locks on the bathroom doors. Being walked in on was a concern. I realized I liked the small safe space of the bathtub with the curtain closed and began closing it even when not self injuring.
My sophomore year of high school I came out of the metaphorical closet and revealed that I am a lesbian. Departing this figurative closet didn’t end my enjoyment of the literal ones.
At my first hospitalization I sat curled up in a ball in the shower stall with the curtain drawn. It was a safe feeling place for an overwhelming situation.
At my third hospitalization there were lovely wardrobe-type closets. When overwhelmed I squeezed into one and shut the door. The woman on checks walked by and said my name. I didn’t have much energy and felt too apathetic to respond. Not long after the doors of the closet were aggressively pulled open and I was forced to stay in the main lounge. The lounge was a big open space, not at all like a closet. I later learned I’d given the woman on checks a scare and felt bad about it. That hadn’t been my intention. I tried to make light of the situation by saying I’d ‘learned it’s not a good idea to play hide and seek with the person on checks’. Later, after leaving, when reading my records, I found this comment had been quoted and listed as the reason why I’d been in the closet. They hadn’t understood the soothing effect the closet had on me. I wasn’t trying to be difficult.
The following day I climbed into the closet again. When the person on checks came by and said my name I responded, letting them know I was in the closet. I figured if they knew where I was there would be no problem and I’d be allowed to stay there. It didn’t work out as intended. Instead, I was surrounded by doctors and nurses and med students asking me questions. This was the opposite effect from what I wanted to achieve. I just wanted a quiet, safe space with minimal sensory input.
In my current residence I have a quite nice closet. On occasion I’ve curled up in it wrapped with a blanket. It smells like laundry detergent, because that’s where I store it. It’s a good size. Small enough to be cozy, but large enough to not feel squished.
And that’s how I feel about closets.