What kind of room have you created?

Emma Donoghue writes a chilling story in her book Room. It’s about a young woman and her son who are kept prisoners in an 11-by-11 room. Old Nick comes frequently at night to rape Jack’s Ma, but, while he visits, Jack sleeps in the wardrobe, almost unaware of what’s happening. Jack, who is five, has never been outside of the room.

The book is chilling, but it also is an intriguing story of survival and resilience.  Despite the horror of their imprisonment, Jack’s Ma creates a rich environment  to nourish Jack.

Jack watches TV, but only one show at a time. “I’d love to watch TV all the time,” he says, “but it rots our brains.”

He learns about art from pictures, such as “Great Masterpieces of Western Art No. 3: The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist,” that his mother has saved from their oatmeal boxes. He draws on toilet paper and loves to read even though he and his Ma have only nine books and only four of those have pictures inside.

Jack and his mother create an egg snake by carefully removing the egg from the eggshell. “Eggsnake is more longer than all around room. We’ve been making him since I was three,” Jack reports. “Hie lives in under bed all coiled up keeping us safe.”

Jack exercises with games like trampoline, which really is just jumping on the bed. He runs track, explaining that “track goes around bed from wardrobe to lamp.”

The mother and child sing songs and play orchestra by seeing what noises they can “bang out of things,” and they play games like Checkers. Jack sharpens the pencil with a knife and writes, “I am five the day before yesterday.”

For Joy, the book brought up some questions to answer and to think about.

What room did she grow up in? What were the rooms like that she lived in when she was five? What did her parents do to create a nourishing environment?

What kind of rooms did she create for her own children?

What kind of rooms has she created for herself and for her family to live in now?

Fayteen suggests all of us need safe places where we feel free to grow. Often, as a counselor, she helps her clients to be more aware of the environment that they grew up in and the environment they live in now.

 All of us, Fayteen says, need a safe “room” where we can retreat from the world. We need a place that nourishes us and enhances who we are and who we want to become.

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