Pushing people away… or keeping them at a distance that is safe. Safe from what though? This is something that I have been trying to understand. I have had a real issue with this since Willie died .
I didn’t realize until just recently that I was doing it – or to what extent I have been. It’s become noticeable to me now only because I am finally starting to desire to have people close to me again… and I’m finding that there’s a wall that was never there before; and that I built that wall.
A wall that went up very quickly after Willie’s death. Looking back now I see that it started right away. The day after Willie died, I pushed away offers of help and continued that way for a very long time; something that I still struggle with today. I pulled away from my friends, barely seeing them. When I did spend time with them, there was a distance and a barrier between us that was palpable and uncomfortable. It began with avoiding people in public and when I would drop my son off at school. I wouldn’t get out of the car… it was too hard to run the gauntlet of people offering condolences or asking if there was anything they could do to help. At the grocery store I would go to check outs with clerks that I didn’t know personally – a hard feat in a small community that I had been in for so many years. Ducking out of aisles in stores when I saw someone I knew, before they saw me. I got my ex-husband to take my son to soccer games so that I wouldn’t have to see anyone and face talking – or worse, the polite avoidance because no one knows what to say.
So the wall started to be built and it stayed, and it grew to what it is now. An obstacle that I have put there and that I have to work to remove. At its core is the fear of being hurt by loss. It’s impossible to explain the loss of a child… losing someone who was inside of me and a part of me from his first being. He was separate from me, but, like all my children, also a part of me and inseparable from my being in a way. To lose him hurts more than I could have ever imagined. That wall exists in a manner of keeping anyone from coming close again so that I don’t have to experience that pain again if I lose them.
The wall went up so quickly and unconsciously that it’s going to take some time to take it apart. Slowly and painstakingly, little by little. Sometimes shoring back up the bricks I’ve just taken down as the fear storms in… fear born out of feelings that feel foreign and scary to me. Coming down consciously now though.