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.