The Wall: A Moment with Bill Reflection
Fear Silently Enters
From the past it borrows.
Disappointments, lies, emotional abuse, apathy, callousness, physical abuse, sexual abuse, ignorance, abandonment, take your pick, take one or a baker’s dozen, they all add up, they all take their toll, they all lead to….
We get hurt we deal with it, right? Lesson learned, move on, get on with your life, but then we get hurt again, and again, and again, again, again, again, and we bandage up the wounds, shift into triage mode, slow the bleeding but never stop it, and even the wounds that don’t bleed hurt like the devil, our psyches oozes trust and faith, and then a reaction as old as time itself kicks in, fight or flight, the only two choices any human being…hell, any animal…has. Fight or flight, whatcha gonna do?
You begin building the wall.
The Construction Begins
At an early age we lay the first stone. An unkind word from playmates, ignored on the playground, ridiculed, bullied, laughed at, each one is matched by another stone, laying the foundation for what, many years later, will be a grand structure.
All through childhood it continues. The largest stones, of course, correspond to those times our parents broke trust, lied to us, were unkind or, heaven forbid, were abusive. Those stones are whoppers and will support the outer walls quite easily for years to come. Next are the stones of friends who betrayed trust, who ridiculed us, who deserted us, who were not loyal to us. We place those stones atop the larger, fill in gaps so the entire structure is solid and airtight.
And as we grow older our world expands. More people are met. More situations are faced. More pain is endured and more stones added. Broken dates, broken hearts, divorces. Deaths of friends, deaths of loved ones. Lost jobs, lost possessions, lost dreams and lost self-image. Physical pain, emotional pain, psychological pain, small pains and large pains, suck-your-thumb pains and medicated pains.
By the time you reach middle age you have one hell of a wall built, and inside that wall is the fortress, your safety zone, the one place you can find solace from the painful and paralyzing events of life.
And the Pain Continues
Because, after all, this is life and life equals pain, and all those years have taught you to protect, protect, good God Almighty we must protect ourselves, so you dig a moat, and fill it with water, and it is teeming with fierce creatures, and finally, many years have passed, and you sit in your fortress, behind stout walls, behind a moat, safely ensconced within, and you sigh loudly, and you relax, knowing you are finally free of the pain….
And you realize something else…something disturbing…something terribly frightening, something you never guessed possible, you never hoped would happen,
You are alone!
The cost of total protection from harm is complete isolation from life….how does it feel?
Is it a price worth paying?
“Eleanor Rigby, died in a church and was buried along with her name…nobody came.”
Hum that tune as you go about the business of isolation. Hum that tune as you continue to add bricks to the structure, tune out the world, tune out the people and tune out life.
Hell yes there’s an alternative. It’s called living. It’s called acceptance of the fact that life can be painful, but in risking pain we become candidates for intense joy as well, and that intense joy far-outweighs the pain….if we allow it.
This is my story. I suspect many can relate to it.
Almost nine years ago I was in a hotel room in Anchorage, Alaska, completely alone, completely protected and completely miserable. I was slowly drinking myself to death. My wall, my fortress, my moat, all had entombed me. Obviously, what I was doing wasn’t working. My plan was killing me.
Over eight years later I am deliriously happy. The wall has been torn down. The moat has been drained and cemented over. The only protection I have from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is a quiet place inside of me where I find peace when the winds are howling and the banshees shriek through my mind’s corridors.
I can’t explain it any better than that. Being willing to be harmed also means being receptive to love.
And being receptive to love means survival.
The past Is Exactly That….the Past
It cannot hurt me if I don’t give it power.
I spend my days now in a state of vulnerability. I do not invite pain but it is possible, and I accept that. I do not invite heartache, but I know it could happen tomorrow and that, too, I accept.
I am vulnerable and yet not afraid.
I am vulnerable and yet excited about the future.
I am vulnerable and yet not defenseless.
The Drawbridge Lowers
And the walls come down.
The wrecking ball of determination smashes into your fortress, rendering it useless from this day forward. The moat is drained and the turrets crumble to the ground, and you open the great door and look out with trepidation, with hesitancy and yes, with fear. You take one step forward. There is wailing in the distance, and in the deep shadows you see gleaming orbs looking back at you.
You take another step forward and the keening screech of life’s victims assault your ears, the lonely and battered, bitter and pained, assault your eyes.
You take another step forward, and another, and another, and slowly the realization arrives that you are still alive, you are still in command of the board, you are still a player with all the tools necessary to build a new structure, an open structure built upon a foundation of trust. The air flows freely through your new windows, a soft, warm breeze that is inviting to all and comfort to you.
Post Those Letters
Send out the invitations for your new house-warming. Invite everyone you know, but don’t limit yourself or you may miss the opportunity to meet someone special. Reach out with welcoming hands and heart, and proclaim to the world there’s a new kid in town, battered and bloody from the past but willing to take one more chance, willing to roll the dice, willing to stick your head into the lion’s mouth, all for a shot at the ultimate payoff……
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)