Armor Doesn’t Just Keep Out Hurt

 Image credit: Dylan Spitz 

Image credit: Dylan Spitz 

“The problem is that the minute [we] go into uncertainty and fear and emotional exposure that creates so much terror in people that they armor up — they grab two things, armor and weapons. How do I self-protect and how do I hurt you first?”

It’s a matter of perspective, I’m learning. We all navigate the same exact fears. We may call the anxiety by different names or ask it different questions, but it’s all rooted in the same feeling — of wanting to be wanted and wanting to have the space to openly want. The want is what triggers the fear because we want, we ask of ourselves, and we tremble when our answers speak to our biggest insecurities. 

If you don’t think you’re worth waiting for the text, the question is — should I just text myself? But, breathe, control, and know that what is for you shall not pass you. You’re worth the effort.

If you don’t think someone will cherish your openness, the question is — did melting into the kiss tell him more about my heart than he should know at this point? But, breathe, love isn’t a power struggle, at least not the kind that feeds your soul. You’re worth a relationship based on zero games and all real feelings. 

We’re simple and complex, all in one. So, why do we think love would be any different? The bravest moments in my life have come down to showing up when showing up was the most exposing choice on my roster. Some times I walked out unscathed, other times I was unrecognizable under the layers of scars and dirt, but every single time I felt like I stayed true to myself. The sentences are easier to write than the moments were to live, that’s the honest truth, but I also didn’t do it for the sentences, I did it for the people on the other side of the relationships. I did it for myself. 

For every day that I showed up on an ICU floor that triggered my PTSD, my grandma knew that she wasn’t going to be alone during her last few days of life. I was right there, her hand in mine, a squeeze during the moments when the haze of her mind cleared. The experience was vulnerable, transformative, a potato peeler to the layer of armor that I’d put on for her and that was instantly undone the moment she passed. 

“I’m allowed to break,” wrote a friend this week. 

Yes. 

I’m allowed to break. I’m allowed to feel raw. I’m allowed to want. I’m allowed to be brave and scared at the same exact time. I’m allowed to feel my way through shame and come out the other side with stories and moments of exposed, anchored truth.

I’m allowed to navigate the most heart breaking moments in my life by encouraging my heart out of fetal position and back onto its feet. There is no shame for the picture of a heart in fetal position because how amazing that I let myself feel love to the point of feeling that hurt. The layers of armor that could have protected it would have not known the difference between blocking out love and hurt. 

Consider that. The armor, it doesn’t know the difference between keeping out love or hurt, it just repels it all. 

I’m at a couple of crossroads in my own life and I’m trying to remind myself that armor may look like the stronger option, but really, its weight ultimately just makes it harder for you to move forward. I like to know that I can break into parkour at a moment’s notice. That I’m that fluid and that in touch with my own heart to know that my movements don’t have to be as heavy as my worries. I can take things slow, learn my way through vulnerable situations, without putting on armor and picking up swords. There’s so much happiness and love on the other side of being brave, why would I choose to put on armor that would serve to block out the love I know I deserve?