When we are in pain, we have the tendency to raise our defenses. This actually makes good sense. We don’t want to get hurt again, so the prudent thing to do is to protect ourselves. We retreat back into our castle, behind our fortified walls, and pull up the drawbridge.
The Problem with Putting Up Your Defenses
The problem with holing up behind your defenses is that it can be a lonely place. You can’t foster meaningful connections with other people if your walls are up.
Healing Through Relationship
I believe we are healed through relationship with others. We are often hurt in our relationships, so it makes sense that we would be healed through having a restorative experience in a healthy relationship. This is why small groups can be such powerful healing experiences. This is why therapy and AA work. Other people on this journey of life can help us in our pain. We don’t have to do it alone.
But that’s the real trick, isn’t it? To let someone in, to develop a healing, restorative relationship, we have to let down our drawbridge. We actually have to come out from behind our fortified walls and be vulnerable about our pain. We have to show another person who we really are, warts and all.
The Risk of Relationship
There is risk in letting down our drawbridge. We might risk being vulnerable, and get hurt in the same way we did before. Then we would be even worse off! The thought of getting hurt again is often so terrible and scary, it seems safer to stay back behind the walls of our castle.
The Consequence of Isolation
The problem is that although we think we are protecting ourselves, the result often feels worse. Being alone in our pain is the closest to hell that we can be on this earth. By staying back behind our walls, drawbridge up, we eventually die—alone in our pain.
Action Step: My challenge to you today is to take a risk. Even if you have been hurt before, let down your drawbridge and come out from behind your walls. Find someone safe to share your pain with, and start the process of healing.