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  • Writer's pictureNina Castle

“Self-protecting barriers”—my random words…

From a webinar I listened to, I was given an assignment to randomly choose a book, flip to a page, choose a word, write about that word. (I know of some people choosing a Bible verse to read by a method like this…flip the page and point the finger…)

This assignment was to develop my intuition, assuming that the word was given to me by my soul or Higher Self, as a message to me to focus on this word in my life. In such scenarios, I also include God, so asked if there was a word for me in this assignment. (I know this may sound “weird” to some of you but I’ll just leave this as it is.)

The word(s) I received: “Self-protecting”

(Specifically,“self-protecting barriers”)

This is an interesting word/phrase. This totally applies to me. This is something I’ve been doing for my whole life: protecting myself. Protecting self from pain of all sorts, especially emotional pain. I shielded myself from—or tried to—the hurt and anger that my parents inflicted upon each other, upon themselves and upon my grandmother, and vice versa, and everywhere in between. I was caught in a multiple-middle. How could I love all and feel good and bad about this person or group and the other? It was a terrible place for a toddler to be in. It was safer to side with my grandmother since she had the most dominant and controlling personality. She knew how to manipulate and gain favor. Besides, she loved me and comforted me. Siding with her was also self-protection: know who to have on your side.

For years I chose, subconsciously that is, and who knows—maybe even consciously sometimes—to not feel certain emotions. I mean, who wants to feel all the negative icky feelings that comes with life, and especially to the degree it existed in my highly dysfunctional family? To not feel was a way to protect myself. I could not feel anger for anyone as it would not go well, especially if there was anger for my grandmother. I felt the pain and loneliness of others, and it tore me apart. I did not want to feel the very depressing and soul-wrenching feelings. I did what I could to numb them. Who wants to see (or feel) their adult guardians crying, lonely, depressed, upset? What child can handle that? Multiply that times three as there were 3 adults trying to raise me when I was a toddler. My grandpa was around but not as involved. I don’t remember as much with him while a toddler, but he was an alcoholic and some of his brokenness may not have been as perceivable to me then.

Self-protecting. I had to self-protect to survive. It’s part of my fight-flight-freeze-fawn response. Block my feelings was how it had to be done. The bad feelings from my family and because of my family.

Self-protecting barriers. Walls. Masks. So many names and descriptions for this. My heart has been so extremely layered with protection to the point of not being able to truly feel. To the point that when I fell in love, initially I could not even speak the words “I love you” to my dearest Tim. I could write it, but I could not speak it verbally from my heart as it was too intimate and there was such a fear that the sentiment could be broken like a bird unknowingly flying through a glass window, although at the same time I also knew that Tim would do me no harm. I protected myself just in case… I could not afford anymore pain from someone I loved deeply.

I have been self-protecting my whole life. I have been working on this throughout the years, peeling off layers here and there. It all is a process. I have more and more to go. I have more to go so that I can unwrap and unravel the true wishes and desires of my very soul, so that I truly know and feel what I am meant to be and do…the unraveling of my soul. The only way for that to be done is to remove the self-protecting barriers.

This IS such an interesting set of words that I received. Sometimes self-protection is necessary for survival. Without it, I may not have physically or mentally survived the extreme burnout (new very appropriate word for this is MORAL INJURY—look it up!) that I was battling in a group I was in. One of my teammates took her life as a result. This is not right. The situation was not handled well at all. This was so very disturbing to me. I was in a situation in which I could not truly help the soul of someone, and watched others lose the light in their souls as a result of this moral injury. It was happening to me. It did happen to me. In fact, let me say that “burnout” implies that the problem is with the individual. Not true. In this situation, there was an injury to my conscience and values. Moral injury is the “distressing psychological, behavioral, social, and sometimes spiritual aftermath of exposure to such events”—if I did not have a working conscience, then there would not have been a problem with me staying in that group. Oh but I digress…self-protection, or maybe in this case “boundaries” is a better word. Healthy boundaries are needed to protect yourself. Self-protection to not feel will need to be addressed at some point. Sometimes it needs to exist to help you through a terrible situation, but eventually—or ideally—the barriers should come down to release the stress, to release the negativity, to come back to the place of who you really are. So, I’m actively working again on releasing my layers as I had to protect my heart from the pain that came from this group. I’m finding my way back to the true Me.

In a marriage class, it was stated that to go from a place of distance to intimacy, you go through conflict to get to intimacy. For example, have that talk you’ve put off, confess something, apologize for something, forgive something—have those painful discussions; there is some pain and awkwardness in that conflict stage, but the end result is beautiful. Intimacy is beautiful and magical. (And I’m not just talking sex, here!) In the same way with the unraveling of my true soul, I must work through some conflict to get to a more intimate state. For me, I need to break down the self-protecting barriers. I must feel to heal. Feel even the “bad” feelings in order to heal from it all. I need to continue to go through the shadow work and self-assessments to release the layers of my walls of protection and in order to meet the true essence of my soul. She is waiting there. My true spirit. My Higher Self. She is there and waiting. I can’t wait to see more and more of her. She has so many wonderful things planned for me. I love when I am aligned with her since then I feel that we are unstoppable and can help so many people. We can do so much good for the world.

Lord, help me to remove the self-protecting barriers so I can release this being of Light inside of me, so that her light (YOUR light) can be seen by the world. She is not meant to be hidden. She has so much to do to bring glory to You, to show others You, to help others heal and to love.

So, I’m curious about the context of these words in the random book I chose. The book was Ann Voskamp’s “The Broken Way” from page 213. The paragraph reads as follows:

“We all have to choose. You can throw up a barrier to vainly keep the hurt out. Or you can break down your barriers, break right open, and let love with all its pain in. Either retreat behind useless, self-protecting barriers—or vulnerably lay the heart out there to be broken. Either slam up angry barriers with bricks of escapism, defensiveness, apathy, or distraction—or pick up your cross and choose the humility of vulnerability to break down all barriers and let someone in. And honestly, the loneliness of self-protecting barriers can feel like it will kill you—and the heart-breaking risk of intimacy and vulnerability can feel like it will kill you too.”

The paragraph is so important to what I wrote above—so very interesting. So true.

I hope my random homework assignment (turned into a random blog) has helped someone in some way—even if they were only from the words of Ann Voskamp!

Remember that your story can be used for His glory and that there is always hope!

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ (The MSG)‬‬

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True Me

I woke up the other morning with these words going through my head. I had been in even more conversation with God this week, and am always so thankful for the connection and for what He is telling me!


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