The author lived in a dominant and controlling environment when all she needed and craved for was the physical and emotional love of her parents, tenderness, a kiss, a smile, a cuddle, praise. Living the life of two families was how things were expected, one show for the public, family and friends against the real family situation, inside their home, of emotional neglect, sadness, loneliness and for a little girl the lack of tolerance. This lack made her life virtually unbearable, being almost too scared to breathe, as she learnt from a very young age that the only way to please was to be the good little girl, how the box of daughter should be. Stopping herself from enjoying any part of life, so she didn't get hurt when it was taken away from her was another part of growing up.
What you do realise as you read more into the book is that her parents lived a very lonely life together, handed down from generations of how parents behaved. You could almost feel their depression as they lived their daily lives. You also feel the anger and jealousy as her mother continually took the limelight at any given opportunity over her daughters achievements.
For me the breaking point is when the family had the chance to move to California for 3 years. The author finally finds some freedom and the feeling of acceptance from the school, youth club and theatre club. Things were starting to improve when they were suddenly taken away as the family had to move back to their original area due to her fathers job. This to me leads to more unbalanced feelings and increased frustrations of the whole family.
Then living through the caring of her elderly parents as she holds onto all the past pain and resentment of all the things she never experienced as a child. When the day came when she was finally free to live her life as she wanted to, the sheer shock and confusion in her mind on how to life without the shadowing criticism over her, starts to hit her. As the lines read ' I was left with threads of many colours that I didn't have any idea how to sift and sort them into any kind of order, or whether I even needed any of them at all to weave a new tapestry for my life.' Recommended reading.
I wanted more than anything
To be a person.
But my parents wanted me
To be a daughter.
“We put you in the box of daughter,” they told me,
Though not in so many words,
And having no choice,
Because I was a daughter,
I climbed into the box.
I didn’t like it there, but it felt safe.
The box of daughter was small and dark,
There wasn’t much air,
And not very much life could get
Into or out of the box.
There wasn’t enough room
For all the parts of me,
So I had to leave some of myself
Outside the box.
Then I forgot where it was.
(Or someone threw it away when I wasn’t looking.)
My brother was the lucky one—
He was in the box of son.
He got to do what he wanted
(Though sometimes he got punished for it,
But I guess that was the price of
Being in the box of son and doing what you wanted).
I don’t know if he’s still in the box now;
He lives in L.A.
It’s been many years now
That I’ve been in the box of daughter—
I’ve worked a lot on the box,
Making holes to see out,
And so that more light and life can come in,
I’ve pushed and pushed at the walls for years and years,
Trying to make the box fit me better,
But it’s a very strong box.
I’ve tried just stepping out of the box sometimes,
And sometimes it works;
But I’m afraid it will cause my parents pain
And they already seem to have
Too much to cope with.
How can I hurt people who
Are already hurting too much?
That would make me feel cruel.
And so I live on in the small, dark box of daughter.
I hope one day long before the end of my life
I’ll be set free from the box—
I’m so excited to find out one day
What life is like
Outside the box of daughter.