We have already established I am an introvert. I am reserved at even my best moments. I am self-absorbed at my worst. Accusatio0ns of being emotional shallow have been common because of my often aloof demeanor. Reserved I will give them, particularly when I am contentedly deep in thought or even more contentedly internally mocking the folly of the people around me. Emotionally shallow? An unfair assessment, that. Ask anyone who has offended me personally how viciously confrontational I can be. My deal is that I do not often express my feelings, for better or worse. I am simply not interested in letting people in. I can be incredibly hostile if someone tries to force his or her way in.
You can imagine what recent months have been like for me with concerned people hovering around desperate to know what is lurking in my mind. I have experienced this internal poking and prodding from those concerned personally and professionally. Well, I am not one to open up to friends solely because they want me to do so. I am certainly not inclined to pour my heart out to a nurse practitioner rattling a bottle of antidepressants over my head while demanding I open up. My wagons were officially circled. I did not want help embracing life in the first place, if you catch my drift.
There are physical manifestations of shutting oneself off in such a manner. It was pointed out to me, though not expressly, during my second counseling session that I like to put up barriers. I assumed my therapist meant I was being evasive in our discussions. Which I was. I was trying to buy time to figure a way out from under all the scrutiny and go back to the days when I had the freedom to off myself anytime circumstances got to be too much. But he was actually speaking physically.
I did not realize this until one late afternoon when the social worker from one of Oakhaven’s sister nursing homes was sent to talk to me. She had previously worked in a group home for children. One of the most common problems she faced there was kids who felt like they had no future. So here is a stranger coming into my sanctuary of a room already assuming she knows exactly how I feel asking pointed questions in order to bring those feelings all out. Yes, I was a happy camper that evening. She was not there for two minutes before I grabbed the pillow from my bed and put it under my arms as we talked.
She pointed out the pillow in front of my is a symbolic shield protecting something internally that I am attempting to hide. Her comment caused me to suffer one of those searing moments when you realize someone has you pegged about something you thought--hoped--was a secret. It dawned on me then what my therapist had been referring to days before. I had spent tour entire session clutching on of his couch pillows to my chest in a death grip. Looking further back, I noted I had engaged in like behavior frequently. Sometimes it was because of the topic of conversation. Other times, it was the person to whom I was talking who compelled me to throw the wall up. I suppose I have done it for a long time, but I have only been consciously aware since it was pointed out.
I have avoided grabbing any pillows with which to guard misrelate. I am always on the lookout for anything and everything that could even be remotely looked upon as a barrier, even down to folding my arms in front of me. Have my communications with others become more open? Not really. I have mostly removed any physical evidence of being on guard. Such a development suits my old, never let anyone in self. Those around who were aware of my inclination towards barriers consider the change a step in the right direction. A small step to be sure, but a step nonetheless. Small steps only force the journey to take a little longer.