In a recent therapy session I had a breakthrough about walls and boundaries. When we talk about walls, we speak negatively — these keep people out, they don’t allow you to grow, etc. But boundaries on the other hand, tend to get a positive spin — you set them because it’s healthy. But are they not two sides of the same coin?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a wall up. I never felt accepted, never felt understood. My family was so dissimilar to me, and the town I grew up in so foreign. I felt like an alien in a far off world who had to put up walls as the simplest of defense mechanisms. It “worked” for so long. I didn’t let being ignored affect me. I just did me.

But of course, it didn’t really work. It just made me feel secure, like the walls of a house. If I was inside them, nothing could get me. And also I couldn’t get out. I couldn’t grow inside those walls. The walls were not protective. They were suffocating.

Now I set boundaries. They, like walls, protect and defend. But unlike walls, they aren’t solid and immovable. They are transparent and clear, heralding their purpose as a healthy way of preventing yourself from being hurt. My boundaries help me demand to be heard, believed, and respected. They also allow me to use my voice and strengthen the woman inside me who has been behind walls for so long.

I’m changing my walls for the better. I’m tearing them down brick by brick, and setting a healthy path forward, with clear boundaries and stepping stones toward a more productive future. The walls inside my home help remind me that they are the only solid ones I want.