I didn’t start to try and protect myself and I didn’t intentionally at first start to integrate these layers into my being. Initially, it was more like I withdrew a bit as words and phrases pelted me like stones. Yes, I would lash back at times but most of the time that just made it all worse. So instead, I started piecing my armour together to protect myself. They couldn’t hurt me if I just grew a thicker skin. Have you heard that old saying, “you better toughen up and grow a thicker skin if you are going to be out in the world”? But why should we have to do that? Why shouldn’t we be able to just be ourselves and live our lives expressing ourselves fully, while shining our light? Why did I feel I had to protect myself against all the hurts that were happening? To be honest, I doubt most people had any clue how far down I was buried. I know I didn’t realize what was happening, and it still shocks me sometimes as I move through my journey today, and peel away the layers in which I sought refuge.
These protective layers—or what some people call protective mechanisms—keep us perceptively safe. It’s a way our ego can cope in the world, or at least that’s what my inner chatter told me. You see, as the layers continued to mount and weave, so did my inner chatter because it was also one of my protective mechanisms. Strangely, it was trying to keep me safe. But, it put me in a depleted state, because my notion was, if I was hard on myself, and beat myself down, then others would have less of an effect on me. I developed this into a true art form. But here’s the part I hadn’t counted on: what I was getting instead of protection, was a double whammy. Now I was getting hit from both outside and within. I have a feeling you might know a thing or two about this yourself.
What do your protective layers—your layers of armour—look like? I’ll give you a side story of mine from about three or four years ago. My current husband commented one day that when we went certain places he could see me change as we drew closer to our destination. I sat differently. I spoke differently. It’s like I started to steel myself. I remember saying to him “I had no idea you could see that.” He smiled. As I stopped and thought for just a second I realized, of course, he could notice these things because he sees me, the real me, at my heart level. It was fascinating for me. I knew I had come quite a long way but I hadn’t realized I still had those layers hiding around me, ready to jump into action.
Do you think if you’ve had your layers for many years you can completely get rid of them? Would you want to? I don’t think they ever truly go away because they have become part of us. But as we go through our journey, if we choose to allow ourselves to open and to be seen, things have to change. If they don’t, then we stay locked in the middle of a constant tug of war between our protection and our knowing. That battle takes its toll on us because it isn’t a battle we are supposed to have to endure.
I hope you are enjoying this series as I believe it is an important topic to discuss and be aware of. I spent so much time hunkered down without being fully aware as it became part of my surviving life. In part 3 I will discuss how this becomes a comfortable place to be.