For over three decades of my life, I believed that shutting others out was the best way to save myself from hurt and pain. But, sadly, this was not true at all. The higher my walls grew, the lonelier I felt; the lonelier I felt, higher still went my walls. I believed that I was keeping the hurtful people out. What I did not see then was that I was not shutting others out, I was shutting myself in.

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Our society is a strange one. It looks upon vulnerability as weakness, emotional expression is considered embarrassing, and display of love is often frowned upon. On the other hand, stoic behaviour, tight-lipped suppression of feeling, and cold, clinical logic is lauded as strength. Is  it any wonder, then, that emotional walls are silently passed on from parent to child, resulting in loneliness, unfulfilling relationships, and distinct lack of hope?

Have you met someone whose walls are so high that emotions cannot go beyond those high barricades? Are you one of them? Yes, I was.

For over three decades of my life, I believed that shutting others out was the best way to save myself from hurt and pain. But, sadly, this was not true at all. The higher my walls grew, the lonelier I felt; the lonelier I felt, higher still went my walls. I believed that I was keeping the hurtful people out. What I did not see then was that I was not shutting others out, I was shutting myself in.

And that is exactly what walls do. They create a self-inflicted prison in which there is no love. The walls push out those who reach out to us in love.The walls push and push and push, till one day the attempt to reach out to us is abandoned, leaving us feeling forlorn and bereft, but in a strange way victorious that our belief that ‘love does not last’ is indeed true. This lack of love finds its roots in a complete absence of self-love, which often deepens into a loathing for self. The prison is complete.The walls stop us from feeling. Anything. We stop feeling completely happy, we stop feeling sad, we stop feeling excitement, we stop feeling passion. Life is lived on a flatline. 

How can these walls be broken? Well, the first, and most important step is recognising the walls. Those of us who have dwelt behind walls know that we shall be the first, and the loudest, to deny the existence of the walls. We prefer to see ourselves as ‘tough’, ‘strong’, ‘not wearing our heart upon our sleeve’. To break the walls, it is imperative that we recognise them. And that we understand that the yearning we feel to be loved, to love, to belong, can be fulfilled only when the walls are down. Once we do this, we must take a step that is far more scary than it sounds. We must commit wholly and fully to the process of breaking the walls. I know of so many who come to me for help, falter at this stage. They have come to hate the walls that have become their emotional prison, but the world ‘out there’ of love and pain and feelings is a terrifying unknown.

When there is commitment even in the face of fear, the walls are ready to be broken one brick at a time. Each brick of the wall represents suppressed hurt, anger, rage, hate, pain, grief. Before the brick can be dashed to the ground, the hidden feeling must be freed. The past must be briefly revisited so that it can be reviewed in the light of who you are today, and not who you were when the event took place. Don’t attempt this part of the journey alone. Find a trusted loved one, guide, or counsellor who shall walk with you as you traverse those paths that had made you run behind the walls in the first place.

What awaits you once the walls have disappeared?  In a word, your heart. Your heart that shall begin to beat with feelings, the good ones and the not-so-good ones, your heart that experiences the joy of emotional exchange with people, your heart that shall gently begin to love you again. Of course there is pain in the world, but there is also happiness and laughter and love and passion. The tears that flow at the end of this process are tears of relief, of liberation. The smile that I see is the smile of a victor—a person who has walked through a personal hell, and has emerged bathed by Light. The strength that I see in them comes from the knowledge that vulnerability is not necessarily weakness, and that sensitivity is the expression of a healthy human heart.

 

 

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