Many people talk about how those that are shy live inside of a shell or they say that they need to break out of their shell. We all build protective walls around ourselves in one form or another, whether it be a shell that you can pull into and hide away or a standoffish attitude that keeps people away. Either way the same message is being portrayed- you do not want other people to get too close to you. Your reasons for this are your own, but most likely it has something to do with the fact that you have been hurt in the past and you do not want to feel that way again.
When I go and hide inside of my shell- I know that is one reason why and it begs the question- why am I so concerned about getting hurt? I think, for me, it has to do with something very simple. I do not feel emotions half way- I feel them fully and it takes me a long time to move past pain and get on with life. I also can be a bit of an emotional sponge and pick up on other peoples emotions, whether they be happy, sad, bitter or indifferent. That in and of itself can be absolutely draining (have you ever been in a room full of people that are at odds with each other and felt the conflict- just imagine that on a daily basis). I have learned how to cope with it, but coping with it has come at a price- I often have to shut myself off to others.
This is not healthy, in the least bit, but to stay out of emotional overload it is something that I do. Over the past few months I have been working at letting the barriers down and so far- so good. I haven’t had too many days where I feel like I am an emotional conduit and nothing more, which is most definitely an improvement for me. There have been times in the past where it was just easier to get away from everyone and everything and have a major detox.
My shell has cracks where it has protected me and patches where it has been repaired. I don’t love to live inside of it and there are many days that I fight through the fears and force myself to live outside of it. I’m learning how to be comfortable with myself around people, and while this has taken over twenty years, it is something that I am getting better at, but I’m not quite ready to let go of my paisley colored shell just yet.