The Phoenix Zine



I pride myself on being an intellectual.  If I can reason my way through things, then maybe I can avoid the messiness of feeling emotion.  Pain, anguish, disappointment, fear, uncertainty; if I think hard enough, then maybe I can think my way out of feeling entirely.

And that’s how I cope.  When I get close to feeling something I don’t feel I can handle, I think.  This leads to long pauses in conversations with friends and family as I struggle to cover emotional responses with analysing the situation.

I’m finding in recent months those pauses have become a more common experience as I am overwhelmed by my life.

To avoid emotional outbursts as much as possible, my mind has become a fortress painstakingly constructed with logic and armed with avoidance tactics.  I remain on the defensive, using subject changes and further questions to talk my way out of providing answers about my feelings.  I live in my mind because I feel protected there.  Any time I need to, I can seek solace behind the walls of my fortress and remove myself from painful situations.

Lately I’ve been hanging out a lot there.  Things have been so out of control in my physical world that to handle everything I have tried to pull into myself and reduce my potential vulnerability as much as possible.  I reason that if I can just hold it all inside, I can pretend it isn’t affecting me at all.  I can be both independent and untouchable.  Literally and figuratively.

Except in my endeavour I encountered a couple of problems.  One, no matter how hard I try, sometimes I can’t stop the tears leaking through.  And two, I’m finding more and more that I’m tired of being in there alone. 

I used to think the answer to escaping my fortress was in finding the right person to reach in and pull me out from behind my walls.  The mythical prince on a white horse coming to rescue the princess from her entrapment.  Except I built these walls myself, and I am the one who has the floor plans and knows the exits, even if they aren’t clearly marked.

That answer changes the questions.  Suddenly I have to ask myself, do I want to come out of my fortress?  Can I trust anyone but myself?  If my walls come down, where can I hide or find security and protection from my reality?

The point is, the decisions are mine and mine alone.  Some days I make choices that bring me out of my fortress and some days I make choices that put up new walls entirely.  It’s an ongoing process, not an all or nothing kind of deal. 

At least now I’ve turned on a light switch.


  1. The switch you just flipped on … it lightens my life too. Thanks.

  2. Amy,
    I enjoyed your humour in your “dance” piece. Thank you for giving me a laugh about your descriptions of the inappropriate hospital costumes.

  3. Amy,
    Do you mind if I mention your blog tomorrow, when we talk about Psalm 44? I realize that what you have to go through is different from the complaint of the psalmist.
    Keep in control through your writing and the work you do with your hands.

  4. Amy, thank you for writing! I, too often avoid my messy emotions as long as I can by staying in my logical mind. And I trust others to a point but I am most protective of the sad part of me, thinking others won’t understand or be gentle. You write beautifully! Thank you for sharing it helps me to not feel so alone. : )

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