Patrick Sallee questions the emotional wall he created and how to bring it down.
While Donald Trump is traveling the country talking about building a wall … I’m over here trying to tear one down. A big one. After my divorce, not only have I cemented a wall around the core of who I am, I added extensive landscaping in front to convince myself it is actually a healthy and beautiful flowerbed.
There is a clear dichotomy that finally appeared to me recently when I think about my relationships. The story I tell isn’t the whole story. It’s the compelling one. It’s the one I can tell people and it is believable, honest, and portrays a man full of strength and confidence. But the more I think about it and look at circumstances that tend to repeat themselves, the more I realize it’s all just bullshit. I’ve begun to realize what real courage is as it relates to heartache and pain. I started to see that in reality, I’m not sure I have any.
Thinking about the patterns in my relationships, it is much easier to let someone go, remain friends and wonder “what could have been”, than it is to try. Trying requires the guts to actually feel disappointment or pain.
I tell myself and others the same story, to the point where I began to believe it to be true. Until recently. Then it smacked me in the face. The truth. In response to the picture I built.
My ex-wife and I divorced more than three years ago, and I’ve been hesitant to jump into anything serious since. I have young daughters that I’m protective of and don’t want to expose them to long relationships with people that end up failing. I lived in a marriage that was falling apart and never want to do that again. It took time, but I finally feel comfortable in my own skin, I know my worth and I won’t settle.
Except that is total garbage. You aren’t holding out for the exact right fit to make sure you are happy. You are creating impossible standards that no one can meet, so you avoid getting hurt!
Over the last three years, I’ve come to terms with the mistakes I made in the marriage, spent time in therapy and worked through many of the issues. I’m comfortable in my own skin and more than ok sharing my personal experience, what I have learned and how I’ve grown.
Sure you are…when it suits you and the story you are trying to tell. Of course, you are vulnerable…to a point. Only as long as the brokenness wraps up with a nice bow and looks pretty in the end. The real gritty stuff, the deep core emotions and thoughts? No one is getting to that.
I’m ready for a relationship and just looking for the right person. I know I have been protective of getting hurt again, but have experienced openness and bringing the wall down with a handful of people. I know with the right person it will be easy.
It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes conscious effort. You can’t put that expectation on someone else, it isn’t fair. You can’t give away that much power, it isn’t healthy.
One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, wrote “We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.”
She’s exactly right. And I’ve gotten comfortable. Meeting new people is easy, sharing a piece of your life is simple, making new friends is fun…but risking pain to really open yourself up is anything but comfortable. If I’m going to succeed at knocking this wall down its going to take guts. It’s going to take a willingness to fail, be disappointed and to face discomfort and heartache. It’s going to require genuine and deep vulnerability. It won’t be perfect, it won’t even be pretty…but it will be worth it.