The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

I Never Wanted to Be a Mason, So Why Am I Always Building Walls? September 3, 2010

Hello all.  Catchy title, huh?  I’ve been exploring a lot of ideas recently about “wall building” as it applies to the ways that we as people present ourselves to others.  I think that most of us are somewhat different in different settings.  Now that sentence has two big qualifications in it:  most and somewhat.  Maybe I’m different from everybody else.  Maybe I’m the only one who often feels like she’s a different person at church, from the person she is with her parents, from the person she is at work, from the person she is with friends, from the person she is with her children.  And the bad part is maybe none of those are who I really am.  Maybe I don’t even know who I really am and that’s what I’m trying to find out. 

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But maybe I’m scared of finding out who I really am.  What if I offend people?  What if I drive them away?  What if they don’t like me?  What if I don’t like me?!  See, because I have this vision of all of us- you, me, and everybody out there in the world, walking around surrounded by little brick walls.  They’re built up higher on some sides than others, and there are holes and windows and peeping places through them, but we’re all these little walking crumbling chess rooks, like Alice In Wonderland. 

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And if I start being consistently real, consistently my authentic self, whatever that turns out to be, because I don’t know yet, if I start chiseling away at the bricks and taking the walls down a few feet, there is more space around me that can do one of two things:  it can either let more people come in, OR if the people around me don’t like what they see when I take my walls down, then it will push them further out to the perimeter of my surrounding space. 

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Now the question you may be asking, if you’re not drooling with numb brain at my weak metaphors and analogies, is, “What EXACTLY are you referring to, here?  What walls do you think you have that are protecting you from all the judgements or opinions or thoughts that others would have of you if those walls weren’t there?”  Well, ok, that part’s not a hundred percent clear to me either.  So maybe if you’re reading this, you could tell me what some of your walls are.   What are the parts of yourself that you keep hidden or limited from others for fear of their opinions or reactions?  Some ideas I have for possible examples of walls are political opinions, religious opinions, religious doubts and questionings, social behaviors, parenting behaviors, home life behaviors. 

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And here’s another idea.  Walls do serve a purpose.  What if everyone in the world walked around completely wall-free all the time?  What if everyone just did what they wanted, said what they thought, and acted how they felt at all times?  Can we imagine that?  Would we want to?  My first instinct is to say No, definitely not.  It would be chaotic, ego-driven, craziness rather than some kind of Ultimate Freedom Utopia. 

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But maybe we could all work on being a little more real.  A little more honest with ourselves and our family and friends.  A little more willing to take risks in life.  Not the risks that would land us in jail or the back of an ambulance, no.  But risks like letting people in, trying new things, having new experiences.

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I have a cousin who got asked out on a date this week and the date occurred last night.  I can tell you without question, she was pretty close to terrified.  But… she took the risk.  She went out, she had a good time, and she’s not sure what will happen next, but for now, the experience was enough.  I think I’ve referenced this before, but Ralph Waldo Emerson has an essay called “Experience.”  It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but basically I think it amounts to an explanation of how we find ourselves in our experiences and how they shape and define us. 

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Maybe all I’m saying about taking down the walls that surround us, which WE build, by the way, is that taking down those walls is the first step to having new experiences.  And it is in those experiences that we become who we are meant to be. 

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The following are just two of my favorite passages from Emerson’s “Experience.”  There is also a quote in this essay that has been one of my favorites for a long time:  “We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well upon them.”

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Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus. From the mountain you see the mountain. We animate what we can, and we see only what we animate. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them. It depends on the mood of the man, whether he shall see the sunset or the fine poem. There are always sunsets, and there is always genius; but only a few hours so serene that we can relish nature or criticism. The more or less depends on structure or temperament. Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung. …

We must be very suspicious of the deceptions of the element of time. It takes a good deal of time to eat or to sleep, or to earn a hundred dollars, and a very little time to entertain a hope and an insight which becomes the light of our life. We dress our garden, eat our dinners, discuss the household with our wives, and these things make no impression, are forgotten next week; but in the solitude to which every man is always returning, he has a sanity and revelations, which in his passage into new worlds he will carry with him. Never mind the ridicule, never mind the defeat: up again, old heart! — it seems to say, — there is victory yet for all justice; and the true romance which the world exists to realize, will be the transformation of genius into practical power.

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Until next time,

D.

 

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