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Protective Layers and Mechanisms Series (Part 1 of 4)

September 3, 2021

The layers we swirl ourselves into interweave and overlap. 

They cocoon us and make us feel safe. But as they 

thicken and mount, they dim us, shield us, bury us, until 

it’s hard to breathe.  ~Angela Wilson

Soldiers wear armour to protect themselves during battle. In medieval times armour consisted of heavy metal plates, chainmail, and leather protectors. Can you feel the heaviness of it all? And how difficult it would be to move, or even breathe while wearing your armour? Well, I wasn’t wearing physical armour, but with all the protective layers with which I had surrounded myself, I might as well have been. A sword would have been able to penetrate easily. Words were the weapon of choice in my life. Both from others and me. It’s part of why words are now so important to me, and why certain innocuous words can crumble me still. 

When people say you are “not that bright,” “fat,” “stupid,” “not that pretty,” “loud,” “not capable,” “a princess,” and much more, it’s hard not to take it all in. I did. And every time these slights were hurled at me I would weave in yet another layer of protection. I thought if I could wrap myself in an invisible blanket, nothing would hurt. Everything would be okay. I could survive. Over 30-odd years I wrapped and cocooned myself in layers of protective insulation. I became masterful at it as the years progressed. I thought it would stop the pain. With each new hurt, slight, tease, or judgement I added more layers and the density of them amplified. And with each of these layers, my voice lessened. It became muffled underneath those layers so that it was protected as well.

These layers allowed me to feel somewhat safe. To feel like maybe I could cope. They were invisible, so they gave me a sense of security and a feeling of control. Like a child’s security blanket but a mile thick. You might be wondering why I felt I needed these or you might be nodding and saying “I get it.” 

I hope you come back and read the rest of the series as I go through what these layers look like and the courage to stop adding them and make the choice to no longer live in the shadow of them.

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