I don’t know if it’s natural, but it seems fairly common with myself and those around me to put up these walls around ourselves. These fences, and signs that say “Private! Keep Out”
Now, in my gregarious days of excessive flirtation I was a natural at knocking these down. Dashing used to say that it didn’t matter how much he would barricade the entry to something, I’d come in through a window or the chimney or something and kick down the door from within.
These days, it seems I am a natural at putting them up.
It sneaks up on you. You think you’re doing it to protect others, to keep the dangerous parts of yourself, the messy emotions, the things they don’t want to hear from them. Or maybe you’re just hiding the white-hot pain to keep people from tracking their muddy work-boots all over it. Maybe it’s self-preservation. Maybe it’s to try to preserve them.
It doesn’t really matter. Because eventually you realize you’re alone, in a house with concrete walls, barbed wire fences, boarded windows, and seventeen locks on the doors, and you don’t know where you put the keys. You’re trapped.
What was your refuge, your safety zone, is now your prison.
And you start to hate them for abandoning you there.
Nevermind that the “Stay Away” “Electrified Fencing” and “Trespassers will be prosecuted” signs are all in your handwriting… You are trapped, and alone, and you hate them for not noticing, or for not staying, for not pushing back. For not wedging their work-boot in the doorway. For not coming down the chimney to join you.
Well, I hate to tell ya, sweetie, but it’s rough all over.
They have their own prisons they’re building. Or maybe they’re building a house o’ dreams, but you nixed the neighbourhood barbecue because they wanted to host it on your lawn, and now they have fences, white picket fences to be sure, but fences none-the-less keeping you out.
But you can’t stay alone, trapped in your fortress forever. You know it. But maybe you need to hear it. You cannot stay alone.
Because eventually you would die, and if the only people to notice your death are Revenue Services, well, that is so much scarier than reaching out.
So you break off the boards covering your windows. You look out and see your very safe lawn for the first time in eons. You struggle to wrench up the screeching window, as it protests the entire time. You climb out. And breathe. And reach out between the links on your electrified fence, hoping to touch someone passing by. Eventually, you get brave and climb over the barbed wire topping. Your body armour snags on the top and you have to leave it behind.
You land, vulnerable, on the sidewalk. And realize, from this side of your fortress, those picket fences keeping you out of your friends’ yards? Well, they’re ankle-high. Not insurmountable like you’d thought. But still, you have to be the one to get over them.
This is the hardest part. Telling people what you need, and trusting them to help you get it. Reaching out so that they can have the opportunity to reach back. You can’t just fall, and trust that they’ll catch you. You have to let them know that you are falling, and that you need them to catch you.
Shame is the biggest obstacle here. No one likes being the one falling. No one likes doing it in front of an audience. It is so easy to curl in on yourself and dig a hole to hide in, but that hole just becomes a tunnel heading back to your fortress of solitude. Death and taxes. That is all that is waiting there for you.
So to the walls, and the fences, and the pride, and the shame, I say…
Get over it already.