Friday, July 16, 2010

Lay Down Your Arms

I knew what was going to have to be done. I would try to push it from my mind and a thought would spring to mind; maybe I can do this without going there, maybe I can find a way to do this and still avoid that, ‘this’ being psychotherapy and ‘that’ being the places of pain. The places of real pain.

But in my heart I knew. In my heart I knew that I carried around some exceptionally well-constructed defenses. Everything I ever did that I was truly motivated to do I did extremely well. I’ll have an order of control freak with a large side of perfectionist please. That would be under the heading of Adult Child of Alcoholic (among other things) on the menu.

My whole life was a defense. My entire personality was built on rock hard defenses. A great and quick wit and sense of humor, albeit at times cutting and dark and sarcastic, spilling over into caustic on frequent occasion. Uber-competent, fairly intelligent (although I have been forced to re-think my level of intelligence in recent months) and intense… always intense. I have an intimidating posture that I wield like a weapon and I have fine-tuned this ability as a well-trained artisan. I am so good at it I don’t even have to think about it anymore. I turn it on like flipping a switch.

Everything about the way I conducted myself was done in the service of keeping people at arm’s length. And I did it by issuing from moment to moment a warning, an unspoken warning to anyone who came within a twelve foot radius. I am reminded of movies about World War II when there were scenes of barbed wire and those criss-crossing poles to which the wire was attached with a big sign hanging front and center and a warning to those who dared to come near:



But no words were needed. I did not need to provide reasons, I did not need to explain why. Once people got a taste of my approach they rarely had the guts to ask why anyway.

This might sound a bit extreme, it was although truthfully I never gave it any thought. It simply was the way I had become. It became part and parcel of who I was. The extremity does not show it’s face until one starts to put it into words, which I have recently done in my own therapy. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cringe. Sometimes it amuses me that I could wield such power over others without even a word and at other times I am ashamed that I have perpetrated this sort of behavior on those that I call my friends and acquaintances.

I am equal parts relieved and repelled in putting this into words on a public forum. Sometimes the benefits of a very small readership are many however

those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not grow weary;
they shall walk and not grow faint.
(Isaiah 40:13)


I do not want to have to give up this sword because I do not want to do what I know I’m going to have to do to make that passage a reality in my life. I know that I’m going to have to lay down my defenses and walk through so much of the pain that has been intrinsic to my life for so many years. A person as well-defended as I am is loath to even SAY the word pain let alone admit to any of it. And yet the rewards will be, I think, beyond anything I could have ever imagined for myself. You see I believe those words in that passage above. I believe, no, in fact I know there are aspects of myself that if tapped into will enable me to exceed anything that I could have imagined for myself, for my life. And I know that there is a way of living that frees up the massive levels of energy that have been necessary to maintain those defenses all these years. And I know that I am about to trade the expenditure of so much negative energy for the incredible lightness of being that is the positive and free-flowing energy of a life lived in service of who I really am.

And I am so excited about the possibilities and oh man I cannot begin to express how much I DO NOT want to do this.


  1. Amazing. Inspirational. Powerful.

  2. Thanks LM. After I had written it I was thinking more Embarrassing, Ridiculous, Lame.

    I like your assessment better. Thanks again, you are too kind.