Breaking Down the Walls
A friend of mine on Facebook posted a picture that said "Be brave enough to tell your story and kind enough to not tell anyone else's".
Then along with it said this: "At its best, truth telling is a healing art - not a weapon. There is a world of difference between shameless truth telling and reckless truth telling and that difference is love."
In the comments, someone mentioned this TED talk by Glennon Doyle Melton, which I found very helpful today. It's about being honest and genuine and telling your story. There is a message here that should heard by all. It's a distinctly human message. Wherever you are in your life's journey, or whatever your past, there is meaning in her story.
She speaks about "superhero" capes as walls to keep "who we are" hidden and deflect the struggles of life. For many of us, our young minds learn that being hidden keeps us safe. The walls are meant to protect us after all. They are erected naturally and for good reason. Few of us grow up without building walls of some sort. Walls come in all manner, shape or form. They can be addictions. They can be a state of mind driven by constant appeasement and avoiding conflict at all costs. They can be defensiveness and belligerence. Or gossiping. Or constantly working.
They achieve the same goal as dissociation and are closely related. Dissociation is all about building walls too. It's a normal psychological response. But, as I have written before, for some the ingredients are such that a dissociative response is taken to another level. The walls can become very real and very large psychological constructs. For those of us who dissociate extremely, the true capes for us are the distinct parts of our psyche. And that is what we focus on healing.
But whatever the walls are about, whether they are more behavior based or psychologically based, they are walls. That is what we all share.
Our new life begins when we realize that the walls are limiting and we decide a new path. Sure they helped keep us safe, but the cost is the loss (or diminishing) of emotional connection within our selves and with others. The cost is a difficulty to emotionally mature. The inability to achieve any true wisdom. The inability to be fully authentic. The inability to achieve a long lasting sense of joy. The inability to achieve a full sense of self worth. A loss of health (for addictions). The inability to fully embrace being human.
For many of us we come to realize that our walls are holding us back.
If walls can be built, they can be taken down. That is the leap of faith. You have to take the first step. The important piece to remember is that they can be taken down safely! Dismantling the walls is the hard part of life and healing. It requires risk and making mistakes. It requires commitment. It requires facing fears. It requires reaching out. It requires making connections. It requires putting yourself out there. It requires trusting yourself and others.
I only have my own experience, which first involved being in a mental hospital when I was 21. As Melton says, the hospital for me has always been the most real place in the world, and where I have learned about courage and bravery, because it was all around me. That was where I took my first steps towards authenticity, vulnerability, removing shame and facing fears. I have often talked about the hospital as being like open heart surgery, except it is with emotions. Slowly, I learned how to translate my various "emotional surgeries" into my "real life". But I had to take that step.
As the walls come down, our feelings become our friends and not our enemies. They set us free instead of keeping us bound. They give us answers instead of only questions. They give us light instead of darkness. They give us truth instead of fiction. They give us reality instead of fantasy.
If this is the journey you are on, I welcome you. Share your story. Trust. Be genuine. Open your heart. Tell others who you are. Hold your head up high. Be proud. For you are human.