If These Walls Could Speak
Tina talks about the experience of being in the house her mom had last lived in and packing it up to leave for a new family to make new memories. But in the midst of reckoning with walls that could have something to say, Tina realizes where the real walls have been put up - and why.
Have you built walls in your life, thinking they could stop the pain, or at least slow it down while it tries to scale the protection you believe you put in place? Is it working for you?
Let's talk today, all about these walls and what they are really doing in our life. If THESE walls could speak... what would they say?
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ACOUSTIC GUITAR # 1 by Jason Shaw https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jason_Shaw
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The house my mother last lived in, has been sold. As a family, we packed it up and moved everything out. Someone else lives there now. And I’m ok with that.
But I did it. I spent the day helping to pack belongings and put them on a truck and I did what I don’t like doing. I popped out a quote. I don’t love many quotes. I’m too grey to just accept them as truths. But as I stood in the living room that day, with all the busyness around me, in my head I said it. I said, “if these walls could speak”.
“If these walls could speak”, I started and then continued… “they’d tell you that her hospital bed was right there. They’d say her little table full of meds, water bottles, and medical supplies was right there”.
I could look around the room and see it all. As it was. I have some sort of ridiculous memory for those things, while I at the same time I cannot remember what I’m looking for while I’m looking for something.
I can tell you that my childhood, and I mean really little girl years, had me a bedroom with Raggedy Ann and Andy wallpaper. I know that I had a Holly Hobby bedspread. I know that our living room drapes where a light green colour. I cannot tell you why I have the 30th circled on my calendar though. I have obviously just done that within the last few days.
So, as I stood in the living room, almost empty now, I thought I was listening to the walls. And time after time they pointed out where another item had stood, relating to my mom, her illness, and the fact that she is no longer here.
But I was strong. I didn’t cry. In fact, … I didn’t really feel emotional at all. After all, this is just a house. It is made of bricks and mortar, drywall, and wood. It’s a floor, ceilings, a roof, and walls. These walls can speak all they want. They can share all the memories they want. But at the end of the day, they are still just walls. Let ‘em speak. I don’t really have to listen.
And I don’t have anything further, deep, or inspirational or life changing to tell you about that day. I said what I said. Heard what I heard. And responded the way I did, just to then get on with the packing and the moving.
And that was all it was. For a good few days.
I live a ways from where I work. So, I drive a lot. Which means I think a lot. And much of my “thinking” is me processing. Old times, old thoughts, old memories. But also new thoughts and often how the new thoughts and old thoughts either have conflict now, or have new understanding attached. And believe it or not, I quite enjoy this. Usually.
But I was driving home from work not too long ago and that day, and that quote made its way back into my mind. It came to mind like a passing memory, something I’d say “oh ya, that happened, I remember” but it wasn’t content to stay there. I started to process it. Pick it apart. See what was up with it.
If these walls could speak. If these walls could speak. Why was this part of the memory standing out to me? Because I let myself down by quoting a quote? Lol. Maybe. But hey, at least I didn’t let myself down by falling apart. I was strong. I didn’t cry. Not that crying is bad. But it was a house. It wasn’t her. No need to be emotional.
Right, right. All too right. If these walls could speak, though. Why is this still standing out as something to process, figure out, come to terms with for some reason.
If these walls could speak. They did. And I heard them. And I was ok. What is the deal here? What is the issue? Just walls. And I kept a strong heart. What? What’s the deal? Walls. Heart.
(Ugh). I know what the deal is. The walls that spoke that day, had nothing to do with the house. They had nothing to do with my memories. Those walls were everything to do with my heart. Those walls were strategically built, right around my heart.
If these walls could speak. I was certain that day I was speaking about the house. But honestly, they answered that day. And we know walls don’t answer. But I had a conversation. They told me about the hospital bed and the meds and the water bottles.
The walls did speak, didn’t they? Reminding me of what I seem to remember most. Room layouts, furniture arrangements, drapery.
But I get it now. I’m not thrilled about it, but I get it. I’ve not been recalling such memories by speaking to the walls of house. Those have been the walls of my heart, recounting the easier memories. Memories about things, objects, spatial awareness. Things. Not feelings. Not occasions, not holidays, or family gatherings.
Without even knowing it, before I went into pack and move, I build some walls – around my heart – and I gave them only a safe script to read.
Because if these walls are going to speak, I’ll tell you what I didn’t want to hear that day. I didn’t want to hear that this is where the couch was, that we sat on while we talked for hours about all kinds of things.
I didn’t want to hear that these are the dishes that we ate on time and time again as a big family gathered around this table, laughing until we had tears.
I did not want to hear about the last hug in each room or the last “I love you” at the door before we left her there for the last time.
I did not want to hear about any of those things, so I built my own walls before I ever drove there that day. It’s just a house I told myself. Bricks, mortar, wood, and drywall.
But those were all the materials I was using to protect myself that day.
And maybe this is for someone today who is sitting, listening, and realizing that they too have built walls around their heart. Maybe no one is going to hear this today and relate. Maybe I just need to say it. If that’s true, I apologize because I try to always share something that will help someone in some way. But even if this is just for me to say… then take that with you today. Sometimes we need to share parts of our story just so we are no longer held captive by our truth. By me talking about the walls of my heart today, maybe that’s what tears them down entirely.
Because we can’t allow our own truths to torment us. That prevents the peace we deserve.
And I know that’s what I was going for that day. I had built the walls trying to achieve peace while I was doing what could have been a painful task. I was looking for peace.
Often though, we think peace is tied to changing the past that we can longer reach. And since we can’t do that, we end up being tortured by something we can no longer do, undo, or redo. So instead, I built a wall, thinking I could create peace by separating what was from what is.
What I got was not peace. I was able to avoid the pain of what that day could have been. And that in itself is not terrible. But it is what I called it. It’s avoidance. That is not the same as peace.
To truly have peace now I need to recognize the difference and realize my truth.
My truth is that the day was not about locking a door to a house. It was about saying goodbye to a home.
If I tear down the walls of my heart and actually listen and allow the walls of the home to speak, they have so much more to say. They are not concerned with furniture placement and object location. They don’t care what colour anything was.
And it’s actually crazy that what I was focused on was not even positive and happy. I had recalled the hospital bed. The medical items. Why did I not instead pick something happy or fun to focus on instead. Even if it was just to do with things, I thought of hard things to think of.
Because the happy and the fun things are stronger than the hard things.
Do you get what I’m saying there? Cause that’s huge. Let me try to make it clearer. Let me try to say this better.
Happy is stronger than pain. Pain is HARD to endure. It is. But the feeling of happiness -the positive emotions of true happiness are so STRONG, they easily could have caved in my wall, destroying it altogether, allowing everything else to flood in too.
I know I can endure pain. I know I can handle hurt. That seemed safer to me to stay where I know I can control the situation.
But if that day I really allowed for the true emotions of it all, the absolute best memories and all the feelings associated, I would have crumbled my walls and allowed it all.
So instead, I stayed behind my wall.
Putting it that way almost makes it seem like the wall is a good idea. A nice, safe, comfortable idea.
But you have to realize the magnitude of the wall.
The wall protected me from all the immense pain I could have felt that day. But that’s the nature of a wall. To keep areas separated. So, that means, if you are keeping emotions from your heart, you are keeping emotions from your heart. You can’t pick and choose which ones. That’s not how a wall works.
If you are on the other side of a wall from someone else, unless it is glass, they can’t see you. That doesn’t mean they can’t see the worst parts of you. It means they can’t see the best parts of you either.
If you build a wall to keep the pain out, you can’t let in the joy in either. That’s a wall for you. And trust me, you can’t speak to a wall, to pass on your message to the other side… because they can’t.
If they could, if they could, if these walls could speak, they’d have so much to say.
But these walls can’t speak.
I can. I can speak and I can speak my truth. I can own it. I can refuse to be tormented by it. I can decide that I want to feel all the good feelings and have all the good memories and if that means some bad moments and some bad memories seep in too, it’s worth it.
I don’t want to live without anything good, just because my wall is there to prevent anything bad.
I’m going to take my chances because what I know by now, is this. I can heal from what causes me damage, but I can’t get back all the time I lost where I could have been experiencing something good too… but I was crouched behind a wall.
I honestly spend everyday talking to people and being a witness to the traumas they have endured in their life. And a major part of being a trauma certified practitioner, is resiliency. You look for, build upon and grow resiliency in people. And that is not about getting over what has happened in your life.
Resiliency is not about moving past something hard or putting something hard behind you. Resiliency is your ability to say something really painful happened in my life. It changed me. It forever changed me. I have very difficult situations to deal with in my life, but I can still have a good life too.
My mom died AND I can still have a good life.
That is where her hospital bed was in the living room AND that is where I would always hug her going out the door each time.
That is the counter where many of her meds sat AND that is where we prepared and cleaned up lots of meals together
These dishes are mine now because she is not here AND they were the dishes we ate off of as a family gathered together so many times.
If these walls could speak, they would have heartbreaking stories AND they would have stories full of fun, laughter, and love.
Walls around my heart help me avoid some pain. Yes. But they also keep out the rest of the story.
The story that wants to destroy me is also the story that will be my comfort in my healing.
My whole story matters. All my feelings matter.
But I know I can deal with my painful memories because I also have memories that I don’t want walled off. They are too precious to keep locked up.
Friends, if you’ve listened to this episode today and recognized that you have walled off your heart, for any reason – to protect yourself, to avoid pain, to forget – I’m sorry that you faced something that made you feel like you needed to do that.
But I’m not here to tell you that was wrong to do. That may have been your survival. And honestly, anything that helped you to survive, and you’re here now, well I call that a success.
But I also know that there comes a time when it isn’t needed like it used to be. It used to be survival, and now its avoidance. Now it’s to avoid further, future pain.
Be careful with that wall now. If that wall could talk, it would lie to you. It would tell you that you aren’t strong enough to face anything coming. It would tell you that you there is too much for you to endure. It would tell you that you aren’t missing anything behind the wall. Nothing but the pain and suffering it’s protecting you from.
But that’s not the truth. The truth is, whatever made you put that wall up in the first place, couldn’t take you out. It couldn’t destroy you. You are still here, and you did it. You survived. And the event that built the wall, gave you the proof you need that you are capable of handling anything that comes.
You have a 100 percent track record of making it.
Won’t you consider working away on that wall now? Tearing it down piece by piece. Cause this is what I know. Everything negative it has been protecting you from, doesn’t compare to everything positive you could be experiencing in life.
And all the positive you can start allowing into your life now, will be a big part of healing what hurt you when the wall went up.
I want you to be able to say, “something very painful happened to me AND I can still have a good life”.
You deserve that. Don’t wait until you feel like you are over what happened to you, to start enjoying your life. It doesn’t work like that. You’re not failing if you can’t get over it.
It’s about enjoying your life EVEN THOUGH that happened.
If you are ever in a place where you say “if these walls could speak”, I want you to know that you are talking about the walls of a building, cause there are no other walls to speak of.
And if it’s a building that knows you, I want there to be many great stories those walls could speak of.
Take care friends. Until next time, this is good bye for now AND we’ll speak again soon.