Tear Down These Walls

Tear Down These Walls

 

From just before my 8th birthday until Phil’s death, I didn’t cry.  Not once.  I had made a conscious decision to guard my feelings and my tears based on something that had happened on a family outing with my dad.  I was the oldest child—the responsible, reliable, perfectionistic, fix everyone daughter.  It was difficult growing up in my house and hiding my feelings and my tears became one of the few things I could control.  At seventeen, I prided myself on being a rock—an island that needed no one. Phil certainly broke through my walls, but he could never handle my needing to be the weak one.  I was always the strong one.  I say this not because it was a good thing, but because so many years had passed that I had a few walls that I just couldn’t tear down.  Part of that was needing to be self-sufficient and deal with multiple long time deployments.  Part of it was the walls that erected over time, and part of it was what my weakness did to Phil when I was my weakest.

 

Our marriage was a good one, but when I was 37 and developed a major medical crisis that I thought would take my life, he told me he couldn’t be my friend.  That statement wounded me deeply and showed me that I needed to maintain certain walls.  He had been damaged as a youth and I got it.  This statement was made at the 12 year mark and we fought to come back from it.  We had 11 more years, arguably the best years, but I always had a little worry about what would happen if I needed him in a time of total melt down.  He deployed; I was strong.  He didn’t call that often or e-mail every day.  I was lonely, but did I speak up?  If I had, I believe that Phil would have responded, but I convinced myself that it was enough.  I was okay with being the afterthought because I knew that he loved me, was loyal to me, and that when we did have time, it was more than most people ever get in a lifetime.  I knew his eyes still lit up when I walked into the room and I knew that he ran to me when he needed someone to lean on.

 

When Phil died, I changed.  My heart shattered.  The devastation and scarring continues as I grapple with my life.  I am fighting to thrive versus survive.  In the aftermath, I was too broken to keep those walls up, and in my brokenness, vulnerable transparency emerged.  I wept often, sometimes publicly.  People reached out to me and offered themselves.  I didn’t even have to ask.  I became a better friend because I began to recognize other hurting people afraid to let down their walls.  I had begun to think that I was strong enough that nothing would bring me to my knees again in terms of needing and wanting a safe harbor.  I was wrong.

 

This week was a terrible week on many fronts.  I broke.  I reached out and asked for help for the first time ever.  My words were wrong.  The timing was wrong.  While I am fighting back to regain my footing, there is that thought that has come up.  Maybe I am too broken.  Maybe I am not lovable if I am needy.  Maybe I need to hide, to run, to become a rock again.  I am a runner awayer in terms of checking out and fleeing.  I don’t give warning.  I just go.  In that realization comes the impact of recognizing that I don’t want to run away any more.  I don’t want to always have to be strong.  I don’t want to keep my walls up.  I think that there is beauty in the vulnerable transparency because I am a strong woman who can weather many a storm by herself, but sometimes, sometimes, I need a life line.  I may not know how to ask and I may not need to ask again, but I have discovered that I cannot go back to being the island that stands alone if I want to thrive versus just surviving. Tears and an aching heart show me that I am capable of feeling, of loving enough to hurt, and they are a barometer to my own growth.  I may not know how to ask and my timing might be off, but I recognize the strength of two standing together to weather the storms.  I recognize the depth of what can be felt when vulnerabilities are exposed and two endure together.  I recognize that certain relationships are worth fighting for instead of running away from, so maybe all I have to do is stand in the buffeting seas until the lifeline is offered.

 

 

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