I don’t deserve love, anyhow. Things are going too good, so I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. People always leave me. It never works out anyhow. My ideas are stupid. I’m a failure. I can’t trust anyone. It’s not worth it. I’m not worth it. I’ll just fail again. They’ll stop loving me. I can’t live without them. They wouldn’t like me if they really knew me. I’ll just look like a loser if I try that. I’ll get laughed at if I speak up. There must be something wrong with me. Love is stupid.
These, along with many others, are the lies we tell ourselves, engraved on the bricks we use to build walls to protect us. Some of us don’t stop at building a wall and build a damn fine castle. It’s a lonely castle, though, and that dragon in the tower—a fiery, roaring beast made of our fears, insecurities, pain—keeps us imprisoned.
We also build walls with what we do (and don’t do). Skipping that event because you know you’ll just make an idiot of yourself. Brick. Staying silent instead of standing up for yourself or sharing your thoughts. Brick. Not going on that second date, even though the first date was lovely. Brick. Letting yourself drift away from loved ones because you fear rejection if you’re honest and vulnerable. Brick.
Walls have their place. We all need healthy boundaries and self-preservation. This goes beyond that. Barbed wire on that wall, crocodile moats, wearing full armor, and thinking about just jumping off that castle tower….. Those walls protecting us from pain and sadness also keep out love and joy. Our safety measures become our prison. When no one can reach us anymore, and they stop trying because we aren’t opening ourselves up, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Alone, unconnected… Well, I must be unloveable.
I’m an expert. I’ve been building emotional walls my whole life. My castle would impress medieval royalty. Several people that I let into my fortress because I thought I could trust them proved that my walls were needed. Brick, brick, brick! Many times, I start to take my walls down and then hastily rebuild, 2 bricks higher.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
– Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
I’m tired. I’m tired of building. I’m tired of hiding. Are you? These bricks I’m carrying on my back, ready to shore up my wall, are breaking me. I want to be courageous. How do we stop building? I’m still trying to figure that out, but maybe we can start small. Share a bit of yourself that you’ve been walling off…. Ideally, with someone who seems to have proven themselves safe or someone you don’t have much of an emotional investment in. A stranger, a therapist, or your dog. You’re probably chuckling, but I’m serious! Sometimes you just need to practice speaking your heart and mind out loud to help you get the courage to be yourself with a person you care about, and a furry pal is a good listener. Sharing parts of yourself in written form at first can also be less scary than out loud. (Don’t try that with your dog, though. Ha!) Some of you might not want to start small and would do better by taking a wrecking ball to your walls. You’ll know what might work best for your personality. It’ll likely be a long, difficult process that’ll look different for everyone. You might need some professional help; trained therapists are excellent at teaching dragon-taming and path-building. They can help you rebuild those walls as healthy boundaries.
So, that epic wall you built around your heart… That towering castle you’re hiding in… It’s going to be really, really hard, but take a brick out. Start using those bricks to pave a path to connect you with someone. Build a door in your wall. Add some windows to let some light in. Chip away at those lies you’ve been telling yourself.
“Sure, we can fend off the what-ifs by not taking any risks, but then we fend off any chance of magic, too. We also possibly invite the worst what-if of all: What if I reach the end of my life wishing I had been less fearful, had taken more chances, and had really lived?”
–Scott Stabile, BIG LOVE: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart
People are never going to be perfect. Getting hurt at least a little is inevitable when you allow yourself to love, be loved, and be connected with people. It’s worth the risk. You deserve love—to give it and receive it. You deserve to share yourself with others and connect. I want to really live. I want the magic. Do you?
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