When I was a child I spoke of a brick wall that I was building for myself between me and the world.
Rather than suggest there was anything wrong with that metaphor my father told me it was a sensible thing to do, that things or people couldn’t hurt you if you refused to let them in close.
This is true, up to a point, but if you never let anyone in close nobody will ever get close enough to you to love you; there will be no friends and life will just miss out on all the joys, laughter and nonsense that good friends bring.
Did I mention that my father has no friends?
I carried on building my wall. When I got married I didn’t tear it down, but instead built it higher. There’s a door in it for my children and another for a few friends but other than that it’s solid. This is the brick wall I spoke of; and I currently see myself trying to dig my way through it with a teaspoon.
I sat down after Friday’s counselling session and watched Pink Floyd’s The Wall, for the umpteenth time. I loved it as a teenager even though I didn’t fully understand the imagery used. If you’ve never seen the film as opposed to listening to the music the main character is having a mental breakdown which involves, at the end, tearing down the wall he’s built up over the years. For me it is a very powerful film, that speaks of the isolation felt when your world is crashing to pieces around you and yet there is no-one you can talk to.
The prisoner who now stands before you
Was caught red handed showing feelings
Showing feelings of an almsost human nature
Shame on him
This will not do.
Showing feelings, expressing them is how I turn my teaspoon into a pickaxe. And yet I can’t. I have a lifetime of habit to break down.
When I say I can’t, I do. I’m quite capable of expressing positive feelings fairly widely; I’ve got better at shouting at politicians on the radio rather than just letting it build up. But I struggle to say that I’m having a crappy day because I just feel miserable, without trying to analyse or rationalise it away or allocate a specific reason. I’ve also spent so much time trying to put a positive spin on things so that life feels better than it is that I do find being honest about not feeling positive is really quite difficult. Trying to feel positive is rejecting those negative feelings without acknowledging them
Even when trying to chart my Eating journal last week, which very specifically says “note your mood, thoughts, physical sensations and emotions” I seem to have managed to avoid emotions altogether. I wrote about rhythm and practical considerations; I noted physical sensations and emotions like boredom but nothing that wasn’t really quite shallow.
And the words don’t flow. I can be so eloquent when writing about what I’m thinking and how I’m thinking but when it comes to feelings the words just dry up.