The Great Wall – and not of China or any other country

The Great Wall of loneliness in life and relationships

The Great Wall – and not of China or any other country

There is indeed another great wall, and one most certainly that I’ve become familiar with but only moreso in recent times. Previous to this I didn’t even know it was there, while all along, it was.

This wall, immense in its impact and reach is the one we place around our own hearts and bodies, erected ever so meticulously and carefully to withstand the perceived onslaught of life and of each other.

In my case this wall started to build up from very young. I grew up in what would be deemed a normal, nothing wrong with, family and household. We were well fed, clothed and as my mum would often say we had a roof over our head. Much to be thankful for. We were raised healthy, sport was encouraged, winning was encouraged even more. Soft drinks were forbidden, and there was always wholesome food with vegetables served for dinner.

But hugs and snuggle up times were scarce.

Dinner times were very cerebral with the radio on broadcasting the news from the BBC, followed by some short conversation at the dinner table about the political landscape and shenanigans of the day. To have an opinion was important. In fact, if you didn’t have one of these, brownie points for being smart would be withheld. And those brownie points, pats on the back and fleeting moments of attention and recognition meant a lot in the absence of physical affection.

When we’re hungry we may not be as discerning about what we ingest into our bodies. And when we’re starving to feel loved and adored, any semblance of this love that we truly seek will do.

The trouble with attention and recognition is that it never satiates. It’s like a drug that has a very short-term hit, only leaving you gaping for where the next hit will come from. For many of us it tends to be the case that we travail from childhood into adulthood and into the domain of relationships, romantic or otherwise, with the seeds that were sown from those formative years. In other words, we take our starvation with us, and so accustomed we are to it and its addiction we don’t even realise we are full blown addicts. We then meet what we perceive to be our first love, which may be followed by our second and third. Heartbreaks are normal, a word well established in the dictionary and ingrained in our psyche and collective belief systems. More often than not endings are known to be devastating, ripping away our hearts and leaving us bereft in a heap that can be difficult to get up from. And so, the mechanism and solution are provided and we take them up, not even realising that this is what we do.

Slowly but very surely and steadily, brick by brick, the wall around our heart is erected. Dare you ever hurt me again.

Sadly, it is the case for many of us, that we can say we love someone dearly and when in a romantic relationship lie next to them in our bed, embroil our limbs with theirs, become one in physical form – and yet, deep within feel a million miles away from each other. We can hold each other so tight in the delight and pleasure of the sexual act, and then feel the cold loneliness envelop us when the act is done with.

From loneliness, we make relationships. From loneliness, we make babies. From loneliness, we do life.

But loneliness is not innocent. Neither is it natural or in any way a birthright that any of us deserve to have. Loneliness provides a very defined strategy that we embark on, because it is so gut-wrenching to be in loneliness. And so, we build up the wall. I don’t want to be hurt again, I don’t want to feel the very, devastating feeling of being lonely. So, I’ll build up a barrier all around me and do life and relationships from arm’s length. I’ll have you close in my life, purport to love you, but never let you fully in. There will be a limit. You’ll never get to see and feel the depth of me. In fact, I’ll erect that wall so meticulously, I’ll hide that depth even from myself.

But when we are born, the ease and openness of our limbs tells us everything about our most natural innate state. We are designed to be open. Our chest is designed to be transparent by way of its quality of openheartedness, beating to the joy of this. No protection. Our openness having the potency to melt away the toughness advertised so widely and harmfully in our societies everywhere that this toughness is how we need to be.

Our true might has always been in our utmost nakedness. It is in not shielding our heart, our vulnerability, our divinely given sensitivity and delicateness that each and every one is born with and that remains within us, regardless of how much rubble we have placed around us. The fortification of that rubble is just that – rubble that can be taken down, not by a forceful measure but by our heart opening, our precious tenderness having a voice again in our movements, in our expression. This is how the great walls inside us are broken down. Not by bashing force and brutality, but with stone by stone delicacy, and willingness to be and be seen as the vulnerability we dreamed we could hide from the world.

That’s the human being in full powerful form. No wall, no protection. Simply the nakedness of all that we are.

Now a note before we close. This is not a finite process that has an end point where we have made it, get the certificate and move on. From personal experience I can share that this is ongoing because what we are truly capable of, and how much we have let ourselves be crushed and shut down, is not of comprehension to the human mind.

Since realising that there has been this staunch toughened up wall built around my own heart, I have made it my life’s work to open up and in so doing melt the wall away. I know of many more that have done the same. Each one of these people a point of inspiration for so many more. There is such a richness and tender joy in having this in our awareness and having a willingness to heal, and to return closer and closer to the sheer magnificence we come from.

Let’s not settle for anything less than that.

Filed under

Healthy relationshipsHurtLonelinessLoveRelationships

  • By Anonymous

  • Photography: Steve Matson, Electrical Engineer, Chef, Photographer, Forklift operator and student of life.

    I am someone that looks at something that is complicated and sees the simplicity behind it. Life needs to be fun and lived. Making mistakes is an important part of this process.