"I've learned many valuable lessons, but the one that hits me right now is that building brick walls around myself doesn't protect me; it makes me lonely. Every brick I tear down lets love trickle inside my circle. If I tear down enough bricks, the dam breaks and I'm swallowed in love."My whole life I've been told how "tough" I am and that I am "rough around the edges." Those who really know me understand the fallacy in those statements. I'm not tough at all; just scared. Fear has always permeated my existence. Fear of acceptance, mostly. I was not accepted by my peers as a child, and I was a "square" as a teenager. So I built a wall. I built a wall so thick, tall, and strong that seemingly nothing could penetrate it. Then my husband came along. Danny is nothing if not persistent. After he proposed to me, I gave him the ring back three times. Try as I might, I couldn't shake him. He was like a pit bull after the kill -- except he had a gentle heart. By the time we were married, I'd dropped a few bricks.
Children came along, and many more bricks were dropped. I loved those babies. As they got older, they had needs. They needed a Camp Fire leader. They needed someone on the candy committee and other committees. They needed an area candy chair. This was way out of my comfort zone, but I dropped more bricks in order to meet their needs. As bricks fell and broke, I found love and friendship with people I dealt with in Camp Fire.
Lovely little children grew into teenagers who seemed to instinctively know where all the old wounds were. Bricks began to build again. One at a time they went up. This time the wall was higher and fortified. Guards were placed at all gateways. No one was ever going to hurt me again -- or so I thought.
A difficult "calling" came in church. The Bishop called me to be Relief Society President (head of the women's organization) for the congregation. I was stunned. I spent the first year trying to do the job with the wall still in place. It didn't work. The next 2 1/2 years, the wall began to come down again, one little brick at a time. I learned to love the sisters I served -- something I never thought would happen because I've always worked much better with men than with women.
I was released from that calling a little more than a year ago. I removed myself from everyone I had been dealing with and buried my head in the sand. The wall was mostly down, and I felt vulnerable. If I hid myself away, maybe I wouldn't get hurt. Hurt comes from lots of sources. It came.
This time I discovered something. Hurt is a part of life. It's unavoidable. I finally understand that love sometimes hurts. I'm trying to keep the wall down. It's not easy. When the pain comes, I want to go right back out there and build those bricks. Then I remember those little moments of love when the wall fell.
So I'm trying. Be patient with me. Be kind. I'm not the tough guy everyone thinks I am. On the contrary, I break easily. This was not an easy blog post to write. I'm vulnerable. The wall is down.