This is my house/ And I live in it/ It’s made of cracks/ And photographs/
We rent it off a guy who bought it from a guy/ Who bought it from a guy
Whose grandad left it to him/ And the weirdest thing is that this house
Has locks to keep the baddies out/ But they’re mostly used to lock ourselves in
-“Not Perfect” by Tim Minchin
We often talk about how we build walls around our hearts to keep us safe. The “we” here is mostly young people, I guess. I never remember my parents or their friends talking about building these proverbial walls around their metaphorical hearts. These walls, then, might be some side effect–a symptom, maybe–of living life in a generation where emotional pain is easier to contract, or at least easier to diagnose. Maybe the walls we build are evidence of our softness–an inability to have pain heaped upon us or an inability to process it in a healthy way.
The country where I live is fascinated with walls these days. Our president wants millions (or billions) of dollars to build a wall on our southern border. He says it’s to keep bad guys out–rapists and drug dealers and other violent criminals. His political opponents claim his wall (and other isolationist policies) are racist and illegal and futile. “Walls don’t work,” they say. “The people you want to lock out will just build tunnels, buy ladders, or move to the coast and take a boat.” Walls can’t keep the pain out. Ultimately, walls end up just isolating us from the people who could be good for us.
But there is something comforting about living in the confines of these walls we build. We look at them or feel them growing toward the sky, and we can relax knowing that no one should be able to get to the part of us that hurts.
I am so alone, though. And it’s my fault, and I accept that blame completely.
Don’t get me wrong–I know a lot of great people. I have so many amazing friends in this place that I’m not considering leaving it, and I am a perpetual leaver. There is promise here–or something that is taking root in me that I can’t identify.
And that thing that is taking root in me is counter to the other thing in me–the wall, the scab, the protective covering.
I have spent my life running from people who could love me. I have spent my life building walls to keep them out. And I don’t know why. I don’t even know if the wall in me is designed for keeping them out.
This is complicated. I’m sorry.
I feel this barrier in me. It’s built tall and solid, and it is standing between me and the things that would give me real happiness. I know happiness–which I have heard defined recently as peace (which I think is beautiful)–is on the other side. But I don’t know how to get there. It’s not just a question of accepting the things that would get me there–there is a mental barrier that feels so real that it is almost physical. It’s like I can walk up to it and touch it–the gritty surface of mental brick sticking to my skin.
And I hurt people who I love because I can’t be what they need me to be. I can’t get past that wall. And if you’ve ever been one of those people who I’ve hurt, I’m sorry. I hope you know I think of you almost constantly. I am trying to be better. I’m trying to find a way around that wall that I don’t even really remember constructing.
I’ll be better.