I just wrote out that title and had a flood of Pink Floyd songs rush through my head. It’s not that Wall.

I’m talking about the wall around my heart.

My dad was a contractor so I have confidence in knowing that I’ve done a pretty good job of building this wall. Years of painful labor. I’ve had it knocked down a few times and have had to rebuild it taller and stronger, but it’s still here. Sometimes I go on building, consciously/meticulously aware of my actions and other times I’m on autopilot, unaware that my actions are shutting people out.

I’ve never had close friends (Jase doesn’t count, he isn’t female). I’ve moved around too much and have been hurt too much. Sometimes life is easier to stay alone than to give effort into another human being. Then there’s no one to let me down, no one to use me, no one to hurt me.

In junior high, I already had the short end of the stick by living in an area that had very few white people. It was a few miles north of the border of Mexico, in San Diego, and was predominantly Hispanic, Filipino and African-American. Given that fact and the fact that I had a severe lack of social skills based on an abuse I fell victim to when I was eight, I had a pretty worthless concoction of junior high desirability. As an adult, I have had dreams of me at my junior high, full of anxiety for running late to class and missing days of school. Every dream has me freaked out, alone and scared. Which pretty much sums up my mentality throughout junior high. Sure, I had some friends and we have fun memories but it turns out they only really liked me to get to my older brother (several of them dated him). As a teenager, I read a note to him from an ex-boyfriend’s sister and it said that this ex of mine had only dated me because she was dating my brother. That was a pretty bad “baptism by fire” of how I felt the world thought of me. In the beginning of junior high, I was timid and learned how to take the verbal blows and threats thrown my way and was extremely naive. But soon, I learned about the lies and deceit, I learned how to make people laugh and learned to rebel and do things that made people want to be around me. I learned to be a puppet-master, only the strings I was holding were also manipulated by the marionettes themselves.

I started all over with friends again by attending a new high school in another district. Due to it being new, they were allowing kids in from all over the county and were starting with grades ten and nine.Ā  My class would be the first graduating class so this was very new but very exciting. Bringing my bad habits from junior high, I got worse in high school. Strangely enough, I excelled in my Color Guard and Choir (even picking up the lead solo part in our big musical) while plummeting in my social interaction. I started minor then major drugs. Stealing a large amount of cash and items and then running away for the weekend got me kicked out of this amazing school.

Back to square one.

Back in my old neighborhood with no friends again, my junior year in high school was even worse as I was now in a school with no choir department (singing became the sole reason I started loving school). I declined further and this time, a day of ditching turned into ten days of living on the streets. When I came home from that nightmare, I was checked into an in-patient rehab facility. After my older brother was jumped several times and involved in gang activity over the years and a friend of ours was stabbed to death while I was on the streets, my parents finally came to grips with the environment we were growing up in needing to change. When I got out of rehab, I was reacclimated to another high school for the remaining portion of my junior year. This was the hardest change of all because the ghetto lifestyle I had always known had suddenly been replaced by hippies, stoners and hicks. I didn’t know how to cope and felt like I was starting junior high all over again, so the library became my hangout. Then I started back up with my bad habits, fell into a bad crowd of manipulating and being manipulated. I was accepted again into the culture of “friendship”. This began two hardcore years of abusing my body and being taken advantage of.

When I changed my life to follow God, just before turning nineteen, I joined a small group of girls in a bible study and thought life was now perfect. I finally loosened up around one girl and completely shared my embarrassing past with her. She “rewarded” my vulnerability by lying to me for two straight months.

By this time, I had no concept of what a true friend consisted of. I was nineteen years old, soon coming into a marriage and I only had comprehension of what friendship was by the lack of and failed relationships in my life. Once I got married, at twenty-one, the tables turned again and the friends in my life seemed to disappear. I guess Jase somehow consumed that friend role for me. I didn’t want to spend time with “the girls” (not really knowing what I was missing anyway) when I had the man of my dreams vying for my attention.

We moved to Alabama when I was twenty-six. Which showed me, more so than ever before, how much of an outcast I was. I was trying to join in a circle of friends that had begun decades, if not generations, before. My hip-hop, stoner, hippie vibe was just not something the people in Alabama could grasp. It was very difficult to start relationships out there and as soon as the seed of friendship started to FINALLY bloom, we picked up and moved to Colorado.

I feel like I planted my feet pretty quick and deep as soon as we arrived to Colorado Springs. For a year and a half, I opened up and nurtured friendships that ended up withering and wilting as soon as Jase, the kids and I left for Denver.

I’m ready to plant my feet again. I know we love Colorado and Denver and the church we go to. I know I’ve found a safe place, with safe people.

For the first time in my life, I feel Gorbachev gearing up to ‘tear down this wall’ and I can finally be free to let friends in.