Sunday, April 29, 2007

walking away from the wreck age

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.

6 comments:

moseydotes said...

I’m glad to hear the walls are coming down because even the little glimpses I get here prove that they’ve been hiding an awful lot worth knowing.

And I do so love a good Poe reference.

Matt said...

Thanks, Mo! Yeah, my arms have grown too tired to keep people at arm's length anymore. Now I keep singing the end of Pink Floyd's The Trial to myself :)

anne said...

Great post! I love the language, and I can relate. Congratulations! It's a tough choice to make, breaking down the wall, and not running to build a new one at the first sign of danger. I made the same choice a few years ago, and it was worth it.

moseydotes said...

Ha! That’s funny… but at least your whole “Tear down the wall!” thing is a shade nicer than what I typically sing to myself: that whole digging through my old muscles and picking scabs catharticon from Forty-Six & 2 :-)

Matt said...

Thanks, Anne! It is a tough choice, as it's so easy to fall back on bad habits. In fact, I caught myself building a wall today (it was really more like a rickety fence) to keep out a co-worker. It was hard, but I stopped and let the person in. Good grief, this adult stuff is hard work :)

Spiral out--keep going...

anne said...

Seriously! Can I please go back to milk and cookies and playing in the sandbox? Who needs all this responsibility and stuff?