The therapist asked me about the walls ... if I could identify when they were erected. She frequently poses questions that I am just supposed to go think about ... we don't always get back to them in session. These were my musings about that question.
I don't know if I was aware that I was living behind those walls at that time. But I remember feeling an overwhelming feeling of recognition. Someone had seen me!
That adult had only just met me at a leadership conference and in less than a week had put his finger on secret of my existence. I don't know if he meant it as a criticism but I vaguely recall an admonition following that I should allow people in.
He was a teacher (though not mine), so one of his skills, probably honed over many years in the classroom was reading children. It is a treasured skill I also polished while spending time with children both in school and in other contexts.
I imagine now that beyond the walls, he also sensed my pain.
In two years from that meeting, I would hit the bottom of the well – though maybe I just scratched the bottom with my feet because I called out for help. Another teacher (perhaps this explains the primacy of teachers in my life), also not mine, who knew me from our after school chats was there to pull the bucket up and save my life.
I owe those two teachers my life in some way. As teachers we never know how significant our interactions may be - and sometimes the simplest act of just seeing the children and youth can mean the difference between life and death, pain and joy.
Despite their help, though, the walls never tumbled.
There might have been a hole dug though or a parapet crumbled here and there allowing some farther in than others, but these walls were soundly built over years.
When people tell you to tear down the walls, they never tell how you how to still feel safe without walls.
For those of us living behind the lines, safety matters more than anything else. We might not appear fearful -- we don't need to show any fear because we are protected. If only you could be vulnerable and still feel safe, how many people would chance it?
It is only in lonely moments that I contemplate what life would be like without the walls. And those moments are not frequent for me. Outside the wall is chaos. I stand strong in my safety. My strength calls people -- especially needy people. They see me and don't even think about what might be going on behind my strength.
I am all too happy to be alone behind the walls - it is quiet and there are no people grasping for some piece of me. Happy is a strong word. Happy is not something that I have ever felt easily. Safe … that is even a strong word if I am completely honest.
While others see me as strong, sarcastic, and secure in my opinions, underneath I am just like everyone else. Human. That is what I told my therapist when she asked me about it the other day.
[more drafts I have been hording since November, not sure what it means that I am feeling like sharing now...]
[all photos are from my walks]