To survive my adolescence, I build a myriad of walls--inner walls to barricade painful memories of the past, and outer walls to protect myself from the possibilities of new pain. Overall, I had a happy adolescence: good friends, loud concerts, stolen lawn jockeys, and so on. But there was always a sadness within that would escape through a crack in the wall at the most inopportune moments, sometimes causing the outer wall to crack as well, leaving me open and vulnerable.
Walls are a great defense mechanism. They can keep people out and provide much privacy. But walls fail when they keep people in, and the privacy becomes solitary confinement. For years I thought that I was Montresor, sealing my motley past away brick by brick. Imagine my surprise when I realized instead that I was Fortunato, walled in by my own hand.
In these last few months of therapy, I have been slowly tearing down a number of my inner and outer walls. It can be a slow and painful process, like bashing away with a sledgehammer until one's hands are blistered, or chipping away drearily with a spoon to little effect. But when enough bricks tumble down to let sunlight and fresh air in, when the damp cold inside gives way to radiant warmth, it's worth all of the effort and pain. I still feel exposed and vulnerable occasionally, but I just don't have the strength or desire to build any new walls. There is so much else that I'd rather build.