Tearing Down Our Walls

We built walls to keep others at a distance. Our intentions were good but the results suck. Our defenses are made of heartache and humiliation. We thought we were building fortresses but it became prisons.

“All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.” – Pink Floyd “Another Brick in the Wall”

Our walls don’t keep out the people who hurt us most (Ourselves, Family, Ex Lovers, False friends). We let them in again and again to see if it’ll be different this time. We do this because we’re invested emotionally. Instead of cutting our losses and working through the pain they caused us, we give them more and more chances to come through. Every time they disappoint us. Every time we blame ourselves. The cycle continues because we stay with what we know.

What our walls effectively do is prevent good people from knowing who we truly are because we’re ashamed and insecure. We keep them away because we don’t know how to receive what they have to give. If we’re totally honest with ourselves, we realize we’re afraid of hurting/disappointing them. Not having good friends sucks. What any of us can do alone is so small compared to what we can do together.

What we most want is what we most fear. We want to be connected to good people. We want someone to show us a better way. We’re afraid to ask, afraid to admit we don’t know. So we hide. Alone. Behind the walls we built and everything we do crumbles. Unfortunately, we are people with high pain tolerances. As long as we can tolerate it, we probably will.

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” – Buddhist Proverb

I hate reinventing the wheel. Whenever I face a new challenge I go looking for people who know more than I do and ask them to teach me. I have to remind myself that this was terrifying the first dozen or so times I did it because folks look at me funny when I recommend this approach. It’s like asking for directions – when you’ve been lost long enough, you’ll ask.

I was lost for a long time. Worse still, I have the worst sense of direction of anyone I’ve ever met. I can get lost going home at night (no, really…). Garmin is amongst the very best things that have ever happened to me. Garmin has a nice, patient, female voice and she gives me idiot proof directions that I still manage to screw up. When I turn onto the wrong street, Garmin patiently says, “Recalculating…” This is a very concise way of saying, “Ok, Jim. You screwed that up but that’s ok. We’ll try it again.” The thing about the best teachers (in the form of friends, kin, colleagues, and sponsors) is that they have the patience of Garmin. (No, really they do!) As long as we’re trying, the very best people never give up on us.

Perhaps I am a very needy person. I need lots of good people to have the life I choose. I have found that the thing I do most when I’m alone is be lonely.

There’s a fine line between solitude and isolation and it’s an easy line to cross. I have found that I can enjoy a few hours alone at most. After that I become squirrelly. I crave the company of people who are truly living.

There’s a lot out there that we can’t see behind our walls. I encourage people not to tear their walls down but rather to build a window so we can see the lives that others have and the people they really are. We are intuitive people who are afraid to put stock in what we sense about others. This is akin to having a great set of tools that you don’t use when you’re trying to build something better (whether a house or a life).

When you decide you’ve been lost and alone long enough you will get out of your own way and connect. The very best people have patience, love to teach, and are waiting for you to ask.

So, ask.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in assisting people in recovery (whether from drugs, alcohol, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.