Monday, November 29, 2010

The Walls

There's someone I met a little while ago.  I think she's going through some rough times.  This blog is with thoughts of her in mind.  It's a lesson I learned and maybe sharing what I learned can help her to get where she's going.

This life is a difficult one.  It's not easy for anyone.  We all go through experiences at periods in our lives.  Some haven't experienced much outside difficult times.  I don't know her well yet, but I think she might be one of those in the second category.

Skipping past the litany of what I've been through or others have been through here's what I want to share.

Everyone has different ways of dealing emotionally with our painful experiences.  Some of these ways might be immersing oneself in work, avoiding people as much as possible, covering it all with a smile and laughter, taking physically dangerous risks, drinking heavily, using drugs or simply putting up massive emotional walls.  Most of the time we use many of these techniques at once.

There is relief in busying our minds with work or being out of sight and reach of people, making people think we don't hurt, getting that endorphin high, drowning ourselves in the bottom of a glass or numbing the pain with drugs or impenetrable emotional walls.

It's a reprieve this numbing, whichever way we find that works for us.  And whichever tool we use, they all have a numbing effect.  We want our feelings to be numb so that the past wounds no longer hurt.  We want our feelings to be numb so that any future pain can't touch let alone hurt us.

Here's the thing.  When we numb our feelings against past emotional pain and humiliation and neglect and abuse we also numb ourselves to all the personal connections that give us joy, beauty, exhilaration and every other fantastic emotion that those one-on-one connections provide for us.

Here's the other thing.  Those destructive ways of coping drive people far, far away from us.  When we're so focused on our sorrow and pain, that's just what we want.  If we drive people away from us we don't have to always be on guard against being hurt.

When we build impenetrable emotional walls and cover up with smiles and laughter, we make people believe we're not hurting.  If we're not hurting, we don't have any deep, dark, crippling secrets to share that will send us in a tailspin.

That gives us a third thing to consider.  When we're terrified and broken emotionally what we need is support, companionship, acceptance and understanding.  We have a need to be nurtured.  Nothing is more brutal than to be dying inside emotionally and being neglected because everyone believes you have a charmed life and you don't need anyone because you're okay.  People in your life believe you've always been okay and that you always will.  That's about the furthest thing from the truth.

Here is the lesson I want to share with you, friend.  I understand that this time for you right now is wrenching and nauseating and you've conditioned yourself to automatically numb everything.  I encourage you to take a deep breath, muster your courage then open your arms and be vulnerable to it all.  

It will be crushing to begin with, yes.  Once you do give in to your vulnerable side you'll quickly start to feel better.  It's much like lancing a festering wound.  Once it's opened up the pressure comes off, the putrefaction that has been poisoning your body drains and when it leaves you can finally heal.

The best part is the waves of happiness, joy, blessing, fulfillment you get to feel because you are no longer numb.  It's the most incredible feeling.  These days I often say that I am happier than I could ever have believed.  It's the truth.  I was so numb for so long, I'd pretty much decided that happiness is a fairy tale.

Happiness is not a fairy tale.  It's achievable and attainable.  You just have to gather your courage and use fierce determination that the sharp, deep pain that you know will happen when you lance that wound is nothing compared to how incredible you will feel once you start the process of getting the poison out and on the road to healing.

So do it.  Open up to the stabbing pain.  Embrace it.  Tear down the walls.  Be vulnerable.  Heal.  Stay vulnerable.  Then look forward to feeling all the amazing feelings, moments & memories you've been missing out on.

The lyrics in this song seem appropriate here.

Some people ain't no damn good
You can't trust 'em you can't love 'em
No good deed goes unpunished
And I don't mind bein' their whippin' boy
I've had that pleasure for years and years

No no I never was a sinner--tell me what else can I do
Second best is what you get 'til you learn to bend the rules
And time respects no person--what you lift up must fall
They're waiting outside to claim my tumblin' walls
Saw my picture in the paper
Read the news around my face
And now some people don't want to treat me the same

When the walls come tumblin' down
When the walls come crumblin' crumblin'
When the walls come tumblin' tumblin' down

Some people say I'm obnoxious and lazy
I'm uneducated--my opinion means nothin'
But I know I'm a real good dancer
Don't need to look over my shoulder to see what I'm after
Everybody's got their problems--ain't no new news here 
I'm the same old trouble you've been havin' for years 
Don't confuse the problem with the issue girl
It's perfectly clear
Just a human desire to have you come near
Wanna put my arms around you
Feel your breath in my ear
You can bend me, you can break me
But you'd better stand clear
When the walls come tumblin' down
When the walls come crumblin' crumblin'
When the walls come tumblin' tumblin' down 


  1. Sounds like John Cougar Melonhead is ready to go postal here.... ya know?

    Interesting take on emotions. Unusual analogy. I'm not going to go into how I manage my emotions other than to say very different from this. I think I'm more the sort to put a tube in to do a slow drain on the boil to relieve the pressure and while that's happening multitask and look for what caused it and strategize fixes or compromises for improvement. Seriously, I've had for real bad experiences with boils as a kid where they just sliced me open and stuck gauze on. No anesthetic and lots of nurses to hold me down. Horrible scars left. Don't care for that approach literally or metaphorically. Eventually realized it was to do with metal allergies. No more commando for me after that. Damn rivets on jeans all to hell.

    Same goal, different tactics.

    I think some of the primary ingredients to getting past bad stuff and moving on to better things is optimism, a desire to improve, a good sense of right from wrong, and following through on decisions. The rest sort of falls into place after that. I may be missing some other good ones you may want to add. I don't think the how necessarily needs to be anything specific. There are plenty of different ways to achieve goals. And if one isn't working, don't give up, try a different angle.

  2. You cannot heal, until you can accept that you need healing. Emotions are part of being human. It is okay to cry, be angry, scared or confused. Sometimes it is only after these emotions we realize we need help, and give up fighting and accept help. We all covet thy neighbour and think what a grande life they have, and wish we had such a life. Not knowing what lurks behind their eyes. I am not a man of religion, but I believe if there is a "hell" so to speak, we are living in it now. But we still have a choice in how to live in this world, whether it be in the positive or negative. This can be a very difficult task, to choose and keep your direction. I look at it like there is two bus routes and two buses. The positve bus and of course the negative bus. You choose which one you want to get on and ride. On the negative bus, you never get a window seat and it is always crowded. On the positive bus, every seat is a window seat, the view is great, the sun shines in and you get elbow room. What's the problem? The negative bus has way more bus stops than the postive one and the fare is free. Making it very enticing and easily boarded. But because there are so many people on it, it is difficult to make your way to the door to leave, making you want to give up and just sit there. The positive bus will usually ask you to give up some kind of emotional baggage, it likes to travel light. This can be hard to do because people get very attached to their luggage no matter how old, beat up or crappy it is. It is OK to take a ride on the positive bus, you might just end up at the mall and find some new and better luggage. Just my opinion. I am on that positive bus and have no intention of ever pulling the "next stop" cable.

  3. @ Paul ~ Absolutely. There are as many different ways to find one's way as there are people. Thank goodness you figured out the cause of that nightmare you went through.

    @ my friend P ~ You too are right, I think. The negative bus offers you the cheap, easy way but doesn't tell you that it doesn't want to let you off. The positive bus takes more effort, more thought and it takes gratitude & appreciation in order to stay on it.

    I wrote something sometime somewhere about heaven and hell and both of them being right here on earth, being the same place and we simply choose which one we want. When we consciously choose and strive toward one or the other just by virtue of our attitude of thankfulness, appreciation & gratitude, we get just what we chose.

    @ both of you ~ I wrote this because my friend has been struggling with opening up to the vulnerability to the hurt & pain that automatically comes along with facing truth & admitting to weakness. This post was meant as encouragement and motivation for her to take a deep breath & leap into vulnerability, letting go of her walls. I truly believe that when we have walls up, no matter the form, we block out the pain AND we block out the joy & happiness. I believe walls are not selective in what goes in and what doesn't.

    What's your take on that aspect? What consequences do we face when we put up impenetrable walls? What benefits do we reap when we break them down?

  4. You have to break down those walls before you can truly heal. As with any type of "work" it will be difficult. But only after that will she be able to truely put those bad times behind her and move on. Thru out my life, I have not been blessed with the silver spoon, I have had to overcome many difficulties right from a young age. I do have a degree of envy or jealousy of those which seem to float thru life, not for a care in the world, with no traumatic events. But my experiences have made me what I am, and made me stronger. I have had to drop walls to come to these conclusions. No walls are impenetrable. Rough times come and go, the character it creates within you is there forever. I like the quote " It is not what you achieve in life that counts, as much as what you have overcome"

  5. That brings up another thought.

    I believe that everyone has been "through" something difficult & significant to them. I think even the ones who seem to float through life do and maybe even more so than others. I think those are the ones who put on a big smile and laugh so people think they are "fine" and they won't have to open up to anyone about their pain and won't have to make themselves vulnerable.

  6. Walls walls walls.... hmmm... I suppose I kinda use them as a tool of sorts to isolate problems for troubleshooting things mentally. It is true what you say as far as the isolation goes for keeping the good out. I guess because I use them in a somewhat neutral fashion they work just as well at keeping bad things in, AKA the words spoken in the heat of the moment that can offend in perpetuity. You know, the ones you think to yourself later that you never really meant and wished you could take back. Another good side effect of that can also be the nasty words spoken in return are also missing. Confrontation avoidance is what it works out to. Not a bad thing in my books. Meanwhile the time I would have spent arguing is being used to figure out what got things to a point that could have turned uglier than they did and possibly figure out ways to prevent it from happening again and maybe compromise or fix the current problem in order to get back on the good track or "good bus" or however one chooses to see it. Make sense? So I guess walls can work to my advantage or to my disadvantage but I like to think that because I understand how they work in their psychological equivalent terms that I can choose to use them almost exclusively for the common good. Yeah sometimes they just go up because of hurt or rejection but same sort of deal there too. I see them as a useful way of dealing with pain in little nibbles until a person can reach a comfortable level of open. No, not as time efficient as just letting it all hang out but it means that I can avoid the snap and whiplash of any sudden realizations. Translation to that is that I change emotional states very slowly which equates to stable and laid back. A little more complicated if I have to put up walls internally against myself to deal with any personal deficiencies (internal conflicts) but I think as long as I'm honest with myself that I can work the same strategy there too. Hope your friend finds something that works for her. Good topic for discussion. Nice to see others opinions on the matter.


I'd love to hear your two cents!