Breaking Down Walls

walls around my heart

Yesterday went very well.  I’m not sure how much “progress” I made but “Joe” (we’ll call him that for the blog), says that’s okay.  The process is supposed to go at my pace and in my time.  I have some new homework and I’m good for another couple of weeks.  I’ll think and process and think and…did I say think?  Yeah think.

The thing that is absolutely blowing me away is the fact that something that happened almost 50 years ago still has such an impact on me and can reduce me to tears in a matter of seconds.  It’s really not about the abuse so much as it is that feeling of not being protected; of not being safe; of not being loved.

I have no memory of being held by either of my parents to feel comforted and safe.  The memories I have of being held are uncomfortable – like I just wanted to get away as soon as I was on someone’s lap.  Hugs and kisses were frequent (we’re Italian so…well it’s what we do) but I never remember them feeling the way they do when I hug and kiss my own children.  They were perfunctory.  Mechanical.

On the way home yesterday, I told the hubs that until my children were born, I had my heart walled off.  He came the closest of anyone to breaking down those walls but it wasn’t until the kids came along (nieces, nephews, steps and bios) that the wall was truly destroyed…but only for them.   They get that part of my heart that I believed would never see the light of day.  It exists purely to love and provide for them, unconditionally and always.

What I’m learning is that it’s time to open that place in my heart to myself as well.  It’s time to love myself unconditionally – the way I love my children.  But that’s not an easy thing.  The exercise of speaking to my little girl, of parenting her, reduces me to tears in a way that few things can.  It touches my soul and awakens a yearning that I didn’t even know existed.  It makes me profoundly sad.

I still feel a little weird about this – like I’m whining and complaining about shit that I should be over.  Like I’m self indulgent and overly dramatic.  But I let those feelings go because I know that if I’m every going to be truly free, I have to get through all of this and learn to love myself.

Thank you all for your kindness and support.  This blog is my way of processing not only  my recovery from alcoholism but from the rest of my life as well.  I’m honored that you read and take the time to comment.  You all rock and I am forever grateful.


That which causes us trials shall yield us triumph: and that which make our hearts ache shall fill us with gladness. The only true happiness is to learn, to advance, and to improve: which could not happen unless we had commence with error, ignorance, and imperfection. We must pass through the darkness, to reach the light.      Albert Pike

25 thoughts on “Breaking Down Walls

  1. I am so with you on this Sherry, and ignore my last comment about not keeping me waiting! I too feel like I need to make excuses when I’m simply describing different parts of my childhood, immediately making excuses for parents, or saying, quick disclaimers like “well that was then and this is now.” Dealing with childhood stuff is hard, but not dealing with it is harder, methinks.

    Things will come together for you, and I can’t wait to read all about it. Also, you children and family are so lucky to have you 🙂

    1. That’s a sweet thing to say.

      It will all come together – I just have to be patient and let it unfold. I’m not very good at patience but I guess I’ll learn.

      Thank you Josie.


  2. This is probably going to sound either silly or obvious, but. I think/know the feeling of should’ve been over it excist at any age. I’m 14, 16, 18, 28, 105 now, I should be over that thing. Society also expects of us to be an expert at adultness as soon as we turn 18. As if there’s a switch for that to happen.

    In my opinion you are so far on your way to uhm, getting better? So many people don’t want to take that fight for themselves or close family, not even the so called healthy ones.

    I don’t know how much a random internet comment counts for you, but I’m excited you went through with it today.Both of you. 🙂

  3. Glad it went well Sherry. And I loved your prior post about being touch with how you feel and how you are aware of your reactions to those feelings. Keep up the great work. YOU rock :).



  4. Sherry
    I truly believe that you already do love yourself so much….otherwise you’d be down the other road….
    and I know you know what I’m talking about girl….
    You just gotta believe in you and believe that your spirit and beauty reflects in your blog and I’m sure around the people that love you the most.


    1. I never thought of it that way but you’re right…and wrong. LOL.

      There has to be a bit of self preservation in me to have fought alcoholism and won (for now…can’t get too complacent) but if I’m totally honest (which I always am) I have to say that my getting sober was all about my family – it really wasn’t about me at all.

      As I began recovery I realized that whether I liked it or not it HAD to be about me which is how I ended up on the therapists couch. I’m no good to anyone if I’m not whole.

      Love you and thanks.

  5. me too hunny. we are in the same place. I think we have to stop numbing with alcohol before we even know this shit exists! that is why we drank in the first place, to numb out the feelings. who knew?
    this is the second phase, and for me, not sure about you, this phase is even more painful than giving up alcohol. this is where the real work is. but can I do it. can I love myself? hell I hope so but fuck it is HARD

    1. Gurllllll – you KNOW it’s hard!

      But like anything else in the world – it’s worth it in the end. Just the thought of not letting that shame and those memories take up any more space in my head and my heart rent free is worth all the hard work.

      Keep going – I know we can do this!


  6. I have had people tell me to “just get over” things that happened in my childhood but I have realized something with the help of a book about the Bhuddist perspective on Psychotherapy called Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, by Mark Epstein. We can move past the things that happened to us once we acknowledge them. However, this does not change the effect they had on who we are….the people we become. Especially when they happened when we are young, in our formative years. I’m trying to retrain my brain….not to dwell in the past. Acknowledge it and move on. But how do we change the way we react to things and people? So hard.

    1. That’s exactly (well almost exactly) what I said to Joe. I know I need to make a place for those times and events, honor them for they way they shaped me and then move forward but dang…it is HARD.

      Thanks Dede…and no, you don’t just have to “get over it”!


  7. It sounds like you are on a new path. As we say in AA it is a journey, not a destination and you are right where you are supposed to be.
    You are one strong lady, I admire what you are doing. Your husband and children are lucky to have you.
    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  8. I read your last post and this one right after each other so my comment is for both. One thing I learned is that we’re raised with family rules, some spoken and some implied. For some of us, figuring out these rules is how we survive in our families but we’re kids so the way we interpret these family rules is kind of wonky. When I grew up, I couldn’t wait to make my own rules (which is why we’re assholes in our 20’s). When we start our own families, we finally have a chance to do things the way we want to, to love and protect our kids the way we weren’t but unless we acknowledge and deny the old set of rules we were raised with, they tend to creep back in. Maybe not with our own children but with ourselves. I remember when I started to write down what happened to me, I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to get in trouble somehow. That someone was going to punish me for speaking about it. That was one of the old rules. You don’t talk about this stuff outside of the family. The self-compassion that you’re starting to experience (loving your name! I hated my name too and now I love it) is a sign that you’re starting to apply the New Rules to yourself and not just your loved ones. It’s a big deal, Sherry. Watching you grow in this brings tears of joy to my eyes because I can see your progress and I know what it’s going to do to your well being and your sense of wholeness. If you feel like someone is squeezing you right now it’s the giant hug I’m giving you right now! xo

    1. Oh for God’s sake Karen…thanks for making me cry at work!

      Thank you thank you thank you – I love that you get me. I feel like there is someone out there, who’s been where I am now and has not only survived but thrived. It gives me such hope.

      You’re an angel.

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