I dislike the color red. I won’t wear it, won’t buy anything for my house that is that color, nor will I buy a red car, even if it’s the best deal on the planet. I won’t put a red collar on my dog, buy a red blanket or plant red flowers in my yard. No red computers, phones, or birthstone (ruby) rings. It puzzled me, this avoidance and revulsion. It also started me thinking.
It’s a certain color of bright, clear red that bothers me. I like burgundy. A dark red is okay. Ox blood doesn’t bother me. I have auburn hair and I like that color. But bright red…the color of flowers and McDonald’s and Wendy’s and Christmas bows and the “K” on the box of Special K cereal…oh, yeah, that color I pretty much intensely dislike. It’s that American Red Cross red, ambulance red, fire truck red, tail light red that bothers me. Definitely bothers me.
Weird, right? I thought so. Found it perplexing. Until it sort of dawned on me. And knocked me to my knees.
The red bedroom. My parent’s bedroom. The room where a lot of the sexual abuse took place. That’s the color of red I don’t like. It was my mother’s favorite color.
It’s interesting to me how we transfer our feelings from one thing to something else so we can handle intense emotions that might otherwise overpower us. The abuse was completely overwhelming. I was lost in a nightmare that had no end. But instead of focusing on the situation that I couldn’t control, on how awful it was, how much I hated it, feared it, wanted it to stop, I transferred the feelings of intense dislike to the color of the walls that trapped me. And buried the emotions there. In the red walls. Of my parent’s bedroom.
I can’t feel the anger, the pain, the terror of what happened there. But I despise the color red. It’s all in what it stands for. Violation. Rape. Abuse. Shame and humiliation. Degradation. Devastation. Demoralization. Destruction. Painted on the walls. Of the red room. Frozen in time. Memories of the anguish, ruin and shattering. Fragmented pieces of my fragmented soul. Isolation and horror. Brokenness and torture. Too overwhelming to deal with; locked away. All securely wrapped up in red. A harmless color I can safely and intensely dislike without having to touch what lies beneath the paint.