Tear down walls, build boundaries. This is a mantra I learned growing up in an alcoholic home.
My father struggled with alcoholism for many years until AA found him and he cleaned up. I was a teenager and for me this was a painful secret I felt I had to hide from my friends. So I buttoned up and said nothing. Instead, I pretended that I came from a normal home with a normal lifestyle, like most others.
This is when I started building walls. Tall, safe walls that kept me safe inside, and kept others on the outside and away from getting too close to the real truth about my circumstances.
We all build walls to keep us safe. We all have walls. We started building these walls when we were very little. When life felt threatening, and we felt out of control. The walls were about survival.
How and when did we start building these walls?
^^ When mama let us know that crying was a sign of weakness, we built a wall around our feelings so they wouldn’t spill out.
^^ When a teacher told us she didn’t believe we would ace the test, we built a wall around our competence and decided that playing small was safe.
^^ When our best friend betrayed our trust, we built a wall around our heart and decided it was the best way to keep from being hurt again.
With every sling, insult, unmet need, and disappointment the walls get stronger and taller.
But then, something else happened. We found ourselves craving companionship, intimacy, and connection. The walls that kept people from hurting us also kept others from knowing us and loving us.
Life cannot be lived in cozy little compartments. The human heart is a wide-open organ that loves and hurts and feels disappointment and resentment. All these feelings live in that space. So when we cut people off by not sharing who we are, we automatically block them from being able to “see” us.
Loving ourselves and others requires us to be open and care deeply and share from the core of our being. It means allowing ourselves to being hurt, belittled, angered, but also letting in compassion, kindness, and feelings of belonging.
When we live with an open heart, we get stronger with every hurt we experience--because we learn to trust ourselves and build better boundaries.
- Boundaries, not walls, keep us in our space.
- They let others know what is acceptable and what is not.
- They deepen self-trust and stop us from expecting too much from others.
- They help us experience true freedom because we’re not attached to others’ approval of who we are and how we show up.
In order to live fully, we need to begin the task of tearing down those walls.
Every wall we crumble creates more space. More space for love, compassion, acceptance, and understanding. It lets love and light in.
To learn more about setting healthy boundaries, check out my masterclass on The Boundary Dilemma.