A Mighty Fortress

Why Bother Dismantling Defenses?

 We all have our defenses and for good reasons. At different junctures in our lives, we’ve all felt the stinging effects of being taken advantage of, lied to, and physically or mentally hurt. As a result, we build our forts, so to speak, to keep others out and to keep ourselves safe. 

A Call to Deconstruct

Our self-defense modes might keep us from being harmed by others, but the armor and shields we construct also have a way of harming us. Isolated from others by our self-defense practices is a painful way to live. 

After my father’s suicide, I believed it was imperative that fashion a way to stay emotionally safe. I constructed the greatest and quickest means of personal protection that any kid could muster up in a hurry; distrust. 

Yes, my reasoning was elementary. I’d trusted my father, but he abandoned me and I was devastated. Therefore, to protect myself from ever being emotionally debilitated again, all I had to do was to quit trusting people, especially the male species.

At first it was easy to maintain my distance from others. My siblings and I maintained emotional remoteness because keeping a secrete, Dad’s suicide, naturally resulted in alienating ourselves from one another. 

A natural breach between Mom and I occurred because she lied to me about my dad’s death. Then, in high school, only surface relationships were necessary.  

Keeping my distance from others, it seemed, was easy and feasible. But then, I met Luke, my future husband, and I discovered that a happy marriage meant I’d have to dismantle my distrust. 

 Someone once said that courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I realized that tapping into courage was necessary if I wanted to become emotionally accessible. Also, it was up to me to decide for myself and in my own time, if isolation and distrust had served its purpose. 

If I wanted an interpersonal relationship with my husband, which I did, then I’d have to dismantle my defenses and risk the possibility of being wounded again. 

Marriage is, “the institution under which a man and a woman become legally united on a permanent basis,” is risky. This type of relationship, unlike any other, requires us to commit to honesty and openness, as well as a willingness to continue to grow and change along with our spouse. A committed union between a married couple writes its own history of hopefulness and develops healthy true grit in the midst of personal tribulations. 

Why bother dismantling defenses? It is a risk to disassemble our armor, shields and forts. But, when we do so, we may discover that the risk is worth it.

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