Letting the Walls Down.

By Jaimie Buckman

When I first found out I had been accepted into the TWLOHA intern program, people kept asking me, “Why are you going?”

It’s a valid question. Why would I quit my job, leave my family and friends, and move 1,200 miles away to a random place in Florida to live in a house with complete strangers for an unpaid job?

My answer was always the same: “I want to help people.”

Those who are on the outside might think that’s me being noble, or something to that effect. But honestly, it was different than that. Yes, I absolutely wanted to help those who were struggling—but I also knew I couldn’t do anything more than comfort them. Reassure them. Tell them they matter. I’m not a counselor, and TWLOHA isn’t a counseling center. We are only a bridge on the road of recovery, a first step—and it’s up to the person how far they go. So the questions remains, if I knew coming in that I could only do so much, why did I want to do anything at all?

Five years ago, I lost my sister in a car accident. I watched my parents lose their child, watched our family fall apart. As the only kid left, I was the one who had to go to school and get the awful looks of pity from my classmates and teachers. Everyone grieves in their own way when it comes to tragedy; mine was pushing people out, putting on a brave face, and making people believe I was moving on. I wanted to seem like I was OK, so no one would see the completely broken mess I really was.

When I was in college, there were a lot of distractions, which helped me not think about what I was feeling. I played basketball for my school, and it was a great diversion … for a while. But eventually, what was going on inside caught up with me. At that point, because I never would let anyone in, I felt entirely alone. I had no one to turn to, no one to talk to.

Someone once told me that walls are safe, good, human; that if you don’t want to burden anyone with your problems, keep them inside. We keep silent because we are afraid of what others might see and if they’ll run the other way. But TWLOHA talks about the importance of community and having a support system.

I wanted to be brave enough to let people see the real me: all of me, the good and the bad. Even after years of depression and feelings of hopelessness, even in spite of all the bad things that have happened, I realized there is life still worth living. A life that can be full, and happy, and overflowing with love. And maybe, in this life, I could help others realize the same.

Not everyone will run away. Not everyone will look the other way when bad things happen. There are people who will love you no matter what. I’m still coming to trust this myself—it’s incredibly hard to let others in, especially when you’ve lived a life of intentionally being alone for so long. But let me tell you, it’s worth it. It’s worth taking the risk, because it is so freeing to be able to have someone you can talk to about anything and know they will never be scared off.

So if you’re reading this and feeling like no one will understand and no one can help, please believe me when I say, it’s simply not true. There are people who care and love you. Seek them out and let them in.

I did. I’m healing. And maybe, just maybe, you can heal, too.  

—Jaimie, TWLOHA Spring 2013 intern

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Comments (20)

  1. Sara

    Wonderful blog. Brought a smile to my face. Shine on, sister. 🙂

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  2. Boo

    Well said. I’m grateful to have a counselor/therapist that I see. “Friends” never want to listen to my “stuff” and most of them have terrible “advice” they want to give, whether I asked for it or not. I would just say we need to be careful who we share ourselves with, but not to be afraid to be our real selves.

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  3. Sherry

    Thank you so much for this article it has opened my eyes …it gave me a little more hope then I had the day before..I’m not sure if I have ever been truly happy in my 32 years of life..I now know that it’s not impossible so thank you again for the hope

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  4. Christa

    Hi Jamie,
    Thanks for writing this. I’m one of those people with a huge wall. I’ve been in counseling trying to break down the wall, but it’s extremely difficult. The wall around my heart is so thick that I can’t even seem to get out of it. It feels like I have a little hammer and I’m chipping away at the great wall of china. It’s slow and disheartening. I can’t cry. I can’t show emotion in front of people. I want to let them in but I don’t know how. I feel SO alone and empty. Thank you for your vulnerability so that I know I’m not the only one. I have always thought the most healing would come from me being able to break down sobbing in someone’s arms and be held. But I can’t even show emotion in front of people, so I don’t know how that will ever happen. I feel like a little girl who is screaming for help but she’s inside of a total cement room, so no one can hear her and she’s stuck. It’s sucks behind the walls. Thanks again for sharing.

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    1. Laura

      Hey there
      U know what just came to ma mind…If tht lil girl stops srcramin for a bit and just listen mayb it will hear sumone whispering through those walls. I´m sure there are people on the other side of the wall and together u will be able to break them down… I will pray for u and with all ma heart I wish u just the best and tht u will be able tearing tht walls down and gettin through to ur emotions… Remember: Hope is real

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    2. Catie

      Hi Christa, I can relate to you so much, more than you’ll ever know. I’ve been in counseling for the last 15 months and it took me a lot of strength and time to open up, to be able to let my guard down. sometimes i still cant do that but im getting better. it took me more than 10 years to be able to talk freely about my fears and this feeling of emptyness, this feeling of not being good enough. ive learned to open up when i opened up to myself. when i figured out that i wasnt even honest to myself, it was easier to be honest to the world. i started writing. at first, just for myself, but later on i let close friends read my poems, my texts. and it was then that i learned how to express myself, how to understand myself and how to be more open towards the world. how to finally not be alone.
      maybe that’ll help you, too. even if its just to be more open to yourself without involving others. i know you can do it, i know you will tear those walls down someday. i believe in you!

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    3. Shaelyn

      Hey Christa,
      I just wanted to tell you that I know the feeling of what you are going through. I have put up a huge wall as well and I feel like I can’t show emotion in front of anyone or I will be looked down on. But what has been a huge answer to prayer for me is finding that one person you know you can count on. That one person that always cares no matter what happens. They will listen and feel for you no matter what. I still have yet to find that shoulder to cry on, but I just keep believing. And don’t forget…you are not alone. 🙂

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  5. Brittney

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I definitely can attest to where you are coming from. I, too, built up my walls and didn’t want to let anyone in. Before dealing with losing my best friend I was always the one that everyone came to with their problems and talked to about everything. I felt like I still had to be that person so I put on my fake smile and acted like I was okay, just to make sure and help my family and friends through their rough times. It was once I went off to college that my walls came tumbling down. I had bottled everything up and just blew a gasket. It was bad-but I found out who my true friends were and I learned how to be myself more and let everyone see my true feelings. Thank you again for sharing your story. It really sounds very similar to my story. I hope that you are doing well and wish you the best of luck!!

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  6. Mark Messecar

    Thank you very much. I lost one of my BEST friends about 8 years ago and our other amigo hung himself about 4 years ago. The 3 of us were inseparable for 3 years in High School. I asked the best man, from my second wedding 24 years ago, just last month…. WHY ARE WE STILL HERE? I have found the answer to be that GOD isn’t through with us yet. LB helped me to find this answer with an hours worth of a phone call about everything from High School mayhem to Religion. I have been in some form of therapy off and on for the last 30 years and have learned many many tools in order to keep sanity as a common theme in my life. one helpful tool such as self-analysis and looking objectively at one’s actions can be cathartic. SO AGAIN THANK YOU FOR SHARING.

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  7. Desiree

    Thank you for sharing your story! So much of it matches my own. It gets better when we let people in completely. I’m working on this. You chose “brave” in your post — this same word was chosen by me at the beginning of 2013 to keep me moving. I think you’re really brave.

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  8. Anonymous

    My story is like so many other women…. currently I am homeless. I left home the last day he hit me- February 9th 2012. I am still a mess, but I do know with certainty, that I would not be alive if if wasn’t for people that DON’T turn away.

    The Haven House in Homer Alaska didn’t give up on me. Paula talked to me each time I called her. It took 3 months before I was strong enough to get out.

    Thank you (and Paula)for being one of the ones that doesn’t turn away and give up.

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  9. Jodi

    This post really spoke to me. I needed to hear it. I have also built walls up around myself so tall and thick I don’t let anyone in. Recently I have been feeling all of the crap in my life catching up to me, and I cant avoid it any longer. It’s nice to hear from someone who has had the same experience, and is also working through it.

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  10. Liss

    I needed this today. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  11. em

    i completely understood what you wrote. i went through some hard times two years and when i finally got the courage to tell my best friend, she left me. since then, i feel like no one understands. I’ve been extremely alone. and since my best friend left, i haven’t trusted people. whenever anyone wants to help me, i leave them. i’m just so afraid of being abandoned. my brother hits me now and i don’t tell anyone about it. and i think its better that way. i’m currently 15 years old. i’m depressed and friendless. i don’t help myself but i help others. making others feel good is the reason i live. you reminded me of how much everyone needs someone to trust. thank you so much

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    1. Leonie

      My sister (24) hits my little sister (14). I see it happen. And I want to speak but that’s impossible. I want to do something, but I’m just too afraid. Afraid that she will hit me, like she did when I was 14. Afraid that she will screaming at me, what she still does.. Afraid that she will scolding, laughing, telling me I’m not good enough and stuff like that. Fortunately I can talk with my little sister and my other sister (22) (:
      Also I do have friends I can talk with, but they don’t really understand.. They gave advice, but when I do not follow it, they are mad at me.. So finally I told my parents, like they told me I should do.. And then my parents told me I was weak and I was an egoist (I told them that I didn’t want to go on holiday, because my sister (24) was going too. It had to be a familiar thing, just with us all.. but I ruined it) After all, I did not go on holiday and I felt relieved (: Not that things were getting better, but it felt better for me that I could finally do my own thing, the things that I want!
      Their are friends who don’t want to hear my story (most of them), and like you, my best friend also flighted from me. She was sick of the story, sick of my feelings and everything. The reason was that she was too concerned about me, more than I do. She did not want to hear everytime that it was going bad with me.. After a half year flighting, friends of us let us talk to each other, and it helped a lot! Still I couldn’t talk much about to her, but she understand that I could be sad sometimes and she understands why, but still she don’t want to hear the story and I respect her for that. I just talk to other people about it, but I’m only talk to my friends when things are really getting bad.
      I promise you, there are people outside who will listen and who want to (really) help you!
      I had also flight from people and I still do, because they are not included in my story after all. But when I was on holiday with some of them, I had a moment when I just completely freaked out, so I had to talk.. It was difficult, but I did. And I’m glad I did. They didn’t ask anything more than I told them and they make me laugh again =D.

      At this moment I’m still afraid of her (24), I try to avoid her at home.. And when something happen, I flight to my own room, put the radio on, hard enough that I can’t hear her. Not that I’m safe inside there, but it feels safe enough.
      But I know there will be some day that things are getting better, and those days will come! I believe. I hope. I will become strong one day, just like you.

      (I’m already 20 years old and my apologies for my English if it is that bad..)

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  12. brandy

    I wish I could open up. Like really open up. In my 35 years I was raised to keep things to myself. And I have. Every day of my life. One day I did open up, only the one person I ever trusted walked out of my life. Now… I am here. Every day fighting to survive, survive everyday life on top of every thing I have yet to heal from. I want to hold a true smile. I want to teach my children how to heal from things. But I can’t, because I still don’t know how to myself.

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  13. sarah

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  14. Sarah

    And so true. Thanks for sharing your story. So appreciated.

    Reply  |  
  15. Shaelyn

    All I can really say is that this is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you. 🙂

    Reply  |  
  16. Kylie

    Thank you; that was beautifully written.

    Reply  |  
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