“When you say things like that, you are putting up a wall. Talking to you, sometimes, is like being lost in a maze. It is so frustrating!” He said to me in exasperation one night.
“Then why do you keep doing it?” I snapped. My passions ran just as high as his; or maybe more considering he had eighteen years on me with which to practice controlling his emotions.
“Because I love the girl that hides in the center!” His words stopped me dead. I couldn’t manage even so much as the derisive snort that was the mortar to my emotional bricks. I sat there, mouth agape. Never had I heard those words spoken with that amount of truth. “The girl in the center of all this anger and mockery and sarcasm is so soft, so sweet, so innocent and naïve. I want to pull her close to me and protect her from everything. I want to love her, to help her break down these walls. Don’t you see the walls that keep me out also trap you in? Break down those walls!”
As we were both self-described writers, our words on those first ardent evenings tended towards the dramatic.
“I love this person I only get to see, I wish you would let her out more,” someone else said to me twelve years later as I curled in his embrace and whispered cloying sweet nothings. And he said it again when I delighted in kittens, when I kicked and laughed at his tickling fingers, and when I wore my brilliantly scarlet heart on my sleeve.
When I felt insecure or embarrassed, another wall dropped. Cold, heavy stones avalanched from the sky between him and me. Sometimes, it was easy to push the pebbles aside but as the stones continued to fall, they grew in size, and it became too tiresome to move or circumvent them. Now, there are mountain ranges, both figurative and literal, between us. And I still have my walls.
These walls are so big and ever present that I can see them. If I make a quip about needing help, there’s one. When someone pays me a compliment and I counter it with a critique of my own work, there’s another one. How about when I edit the words coming out of my mouth to present a very specific image of myself? Most definitely. Or when I blurt out something far too blunt? Oh, yeah. Even if I were to say “Ask me anything and I’ll answer honestly” it’s in hopes that the strength in that statement, that challenge, will be enough to hide any damaging truth that might be uncovered in the inquisition. It’s funny. So many of my walls damage me more than whoever has come knocking. It’s as if I’d rather the brick fall on my toe than risk the possibility someone else might find something exposed. How many good people have I pushed aside in an effort to protect myself from the very few bad people in this world? And what can I do about it? I don’t know.
I wish that there was a way to blast them all away. When I say, “This is me. You get what you see,” I wish people saw more than just some rough bitch. Why do I let so few people see all the other parts, the parts that make the sum greater than the whole?
Of all the times to attempt to present a whole picture, isn’t this the time to do it? When I’ll be gone in a few months and anything bad that comes from all this will be a fading memory by Christmas? Isn’t the prospect of an easy escape just another wall?