I wrote in the previous blog post about the “helpful” little construction crew inside of me wanting to build a wall of protection around my feelings and block me off from the world. My crew means no harm, the happy little workers think I need to be taken care of with their invisible bricks and mortar. They want to wall me off in a fortress of solitude…my castle of emotional isolation.
Mother does it need to be so high…~Pink Floyd
If I let them build without putting a stop to their efforts, they will kill me.
Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking.
Fighting their wall-building efforts is a lifelong process. I’ve realized long ago that hiding from pain will not help me. Pain is part of growth, it’s a step towards being a better person. Without the ups and downs of daily living, I might as well be dead. No pain, no gain. Whatever doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger. Insert your own struggle cliché here _________________________.
So it’s up to me to deconstruct my fortress of solitude just as fast as my internal construction crew erects it. And that process occurs through the vulnerability of love.
If I closed myself off to love, life would be easier better peaceful. There would be no conflict. After all, when you live only with yourself, who is there to fight with? You always get your own way. There are no compromises to make, no feelings to navigate, no expectations of another. YAY! All is peaceful and lovely and joyous in the Me Me Me world of isolation.
Yet, if we all crave that “easy” life, why is it the world is skewed towards the social? Dating sites, meet up sites, groups for this hobby, that activity, and so on.
Maybe it’s because we’re all wired to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Look at the natural world. At the very smallest, atoms are combined to make molecules. Atoms by their very nature….attract other atoms. And when they get together to make molecules, those molecules group and group and group again to make matter.
What’s the joke? We all matter!
Our matter gets together and makes everything. From amoebas to trees, from shrews to elephants, from protozoa to humans. We’re all made up of the same building blocks and inextricably tied together on this huge planet…which of itself is part of a much larger universe, galaxy, infinite space.
We are all connected no matter how hard we want to be isolated.
So I’ve decided to knock down my fortress of solitude and build again from a different foundation. Instead of a foundation of fear, pain, and protection, my new foundation will be one of love and openness. And it all starts with this question:
How can I love you better?
Trust me, when you decide to ask those around you this question, it’s a little intimidating. After all, it’s not the type of thing you normally bring up in conversation, even with those closest to you. And when you throw this question out there, you open yourself up to the possibility of any type of answer.
I started with my two sisters.
The first came back with a spiritually-based answer. “Love me better by loving yourself and forgiving yourself”. I’m not sure what to do with that one since I was already loving myself and forgiving myself. I guess I need to ask some follow up questions.
The second sister came back with something a little more concrete. “You love me nicely now. Let’s just Skype more.”
I also put this question out to my children. No answer from them yet. Must be working out all the possibilities before approaching Mom with the list.
And I posed the question to Husband #2, but I didn’t do it at a time when we could discuss it. No input from him yet.
For an initial step towards my goal of loving everyone better, I’ve been reaching out to show more respect and appreciation to those around me. I call my friends more often to let them know I’m thinking of them. I write a small note of support, respect or appreciation to Husband #2 and send one out every 3-4 days via snail mail. For my coworkers, I thank them often for their help, praise their efforts, volunteer to help when they need it, and call out items of import that they share with the group which might otherwise get lost in the daily shuffle of deadlines and con calls.
I’d rather have my fortress look like a lush garden gazebo…