What Is Your Wall?

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Q_CLAIRE

The last two years have been, for me, the kind of years that change a person from the inside out. In 2014 I struggled through six months of clinical depression, and at the end of 2015 my marriage ended.

The two were not entirely extraneous; one event seemed to fold itself into the other. And both have brought with them their own complex webs of grief—one in proportion to circumstance, the other out of all proportion to any life experience.

Through it all, I have been searching for answers and a deeper meaning to my story. As an Enneagram Type Four that’s my thing—I seek betterment and a spiritually progressive life experience through soul-searching questions. But the question that has stayed with me through the last two years has not been my own. It was asked by a wise friend following an appointment with my psychiatrist at the peak of my depression.

“What is your wall?”

We were sitting outside drinking Starbucks tea lattes on a cool fall day, warm tears slipping down pink cheeks as I battled my inner demons. I was struggling to just make it through the day.

I told her how angry with myself I felt at being in this dark space again—one that had periodically haunted me over the years. How I had no idea how to pull myself into the light. I was simply waiting for relief, believing I had no control over when or how it might come.

The idea that a wall—the block in life that a person can keep coming up against until they find an answer—could play a role in my depression, stirred something deep inside me.

I had been familiar with walls in a different context—the kind I put up when I felt the need the self-protect, hide, or shut down. Those were the walls I was good at—the ones I had control over. But could my depression be a wall? Could it be the kind of wall that had something to teach me?

Part of me felt confused. Are all traumatic life experiences teachers? Couldn’t my body simply be sick? But something about the question resonated with me. Yes, my depression was largely clinical and beyond my control, but perhaps the way I dealt with it was within my control. Could the wall I needed to break through be about my ability to be transformed by traumatic experiences?

Each time I had experienced depression in the past, I turned away, not wanting to face it or know its purpose in my life. I had only ever been eager to deny, quash, and relieve the pain as quickly as possible. But what if my depression was waiting for me to break through it? What if it would keep calling my name until I listened?

In that hazy fall moment I realized that yes, I would keep returning to this place until I figured out how to cope with it. It seemed God had something to teach me there.

Unfortunately this realization scared the bejeezers out of me. What if I never figured out how to break through the wall? Did I really have to keep going through this mental torment to learn a simple lesson?

On the heels of my depression, before I’d had a chance to figure out any of it, my marriage broke down. This brought with it a whole new set of walls. One that said, I can’t do this, another that said, This isn’t the way my life was supposed to go, all of them based around fear and hurt.

But the deeper question—the true wall—has been the one that asks what am I searching for deep within myself. Could the wall I’m facing at the root of my depression be the same wall that lead to my marriage breakdown?

I’m still too close to all of it to know what the answers are. But after asking the question, What is my wall? when I faced depression, I know that it also applies to the arid ground of my broken marriage now. My wall has many names written across it—fear, resistance, mistrust, and loneliness.

These are the places where I must now focus my attention and turn to God—in all the stagnant corners of my heart where I have never wanted to live. For I know these are the places where I come closest to my true self.

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So Lovelys, if I asked you today, what is your wall? What would you tell me?

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