So my world has been flooded over the past months and years with people; people who have loved me well and deserve love in return. There have been plenty of times I have been selfish in these areas but acted under many disguises. I have lived a lie in many ways and hope that by delving into this part of my story I can find some healing for the wounds I caused others and to myself. I have always had a uniquely faulted view of relationships, but that has been rapidly changing these past few years and so I wanted to let others into my musings on said topic.
Living in relationship with another human is hard; in fact it might be the hardest thing we are called to do. Humans can be self-centered, moody, irrational, and in every definition of the word, messy. It can be awkward and uncomfortable to be close to another soul. See one of our natural reactions to closeness is that of defense. Our very nature leads us to desire the ability to hide our darkest shame away from the world. This of course is threatened by the thought that someone might make their way past the guards, walls, and vault doors we so deftly built to protect ourselves.
I speak from personal knowledge of the resilience of the ramparts that can exist surrounding the heart. My life has been full of messages and events that slowly trained me as a figurative stonemason. My apprenticeship took place under the watchful eyes of shame, the powerful hands of abandonment, and the years of experience that fear has on its resume. It was easy to put up the defenses once I learned how. Slowly but surely the barricades rose leaving me in a tactically advantageous point for any battle that could come my way. This often showed in outward reactions such as humor and sarcasm, both are wonderful tools in keeping the conversation away from the serious. I became a master at weaving responses of non-committal and aloofness that never let anyone truly figure me out.
Now there are certain positives that come with being in such a place. It makes it easier to lose friends and family as they never really got close. Sure they may have been a meaningful part of my life but since they never got to the inner sanctum of my soul it wasn't as destructive when they were removed. It allowed me to be strong for others in their times of distress. When a friends life seemed to be crashing down I could lend a shoulder that was not itself falling apart. It gave me an ability to focus in the hard times of life and be collected in the face of disaster. It also gave me a refuge of sorts, a refuge from myself. It was wonderful to be able to never confront my darkest secrets because no one ever had the whole story, no one held all the keys and so there was not an individual who could call me out on my guilt.
That being said there where and still are the terrible side-effects. In the moments when I needed someone to lean on I didn’t know how to ask. Even I was unable to access certain parts of my inmost being and thus was not able to share them with others. I had kept everyone out so long that the core of my being became unfamiliar to me. In relationships it made me unable to show my emotions in ways that would be beneficial. There are moments even today where I cannot cry no matter how much I want to, this has shown up in many of the close relationships and it makes me feel alien.
This is just part of the dark side of who we are, the side that seeks to hide from light and searches for a way out when cornered. This side is driven by fear, the fear of feeling shamed by the rest of the world in the same way we shame ourselves. I know all too well that this fear can be crippling, it has a special ability to suffocate us in its iron fist. There is hope though; there is another side of the heart. This other side is one of hope and longing, but I’ll discuss more of that in the next post.