Urquhart Castle

At the ruins of Urquhart Castle beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland.

If this blasted pandemic has taught us anything it’s that we miss physical contact when it is denied. Screens and video chats just don’t do us justice. We need to be in the company of other humans.

And though we ache for real interaction, some interactions leave us slowly retreating over time. Some experiences ask us not to trust again.

We need new experiences. They have the potential to heal old wounds that were left by bad experiences. But a lot of the time we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to have the new experiences. We close ourselves off with each injury.

Rejection — a brick is laid.

Betrayal — a layer of mortar and another brick.

Before long, a wall.

For some, the walls aren’t so tall yet. For others, The Great Wall of China — mighty and grand and stretching for miles.

We create a safe space in an effort to save ourselves the trouble and energy we’ve learned it takes to be vulnerable. But blood, sweat, and tears go into the raising of walls. Not only is one left exhausted from all that building, but exhausted and alone.

Real release comes when, in spite of all the desperate ways we clench to keep it together, we fall apart. True healing comes when what we deem the messiest, most un-managed parts of ourselves are exposed (against all of our best efforts to conceal them), and the person that sees them receives us there.

We learn that not everyone runs, not everyone abandons, not everyone just wants good behavior, not everyone is hanging around because of a dreamed up ideal they have about us that we can never live up to, not everyone wants something from us, not everyone is dishonest, not everyone is afraid.

There ARE people who are healthy enough to give and receive with selfless, unfiltered, unconditional love.

There ARE people who know how to carefully handle others.

There ARE good, honest, sincere, people who walk the Earth that are looking for the same love and friendship that our journeys, up till now, have left us feeling we will never find.

All of us have been injured — it happens with humans, it’s par for the course. We’ve heard it said that “hurting people hurt people.” This is true. The wounds that others inflict have more to do with the personal pain they struggle with than about who you are.

Why withhold from the world the “YOU” you have to offer?

Don’t let the ones who mishandled you narrate the rest of your story. Don’t allow wounds to keep you locked away in the tower forever.

Sure, one can exist alone. It’s been done. But so much beauty is drawn out, one from another, in the exchange that occurs when we fellowship together.

It is wise to guard our hearts.

While walls may protect the castle from very real enemies, remember — there is also a drawbridge. As of 2020, there’s an estimated 7.8 billion people on the Earth. I assure you there are people worth letting down the drawbridge for among them.

Born in Rome, Olivia Gunn returned to her roots after a brief time of study at a university in Scotland. She is an honors graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Gordon State College and is currently working on a book of essays and poetry as well as a memoir.

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