walls slowly broken
To be vulnerable and reveal authentic feelings can be challenging for many different reasons, for many different people. To allow someone in for comfort and companionship can be terrifying. It is because of this that we tend to build up walls we can hide behind. This facade feels like protection from the burden that opening up brings, so we stay hidden in plain sight.
For as long as I can remember, I have always begged my mom to adopt a cat. Time and time again she listened, but every time, without fail, the cats would run away. Usually, that kind of thing would make someone no longer want one, but I kept begging, regardless. It wasn’t until a few years ago when my mom adopted our last and final cat, that we had one stick around with us. Finally, I got what I always wanted, but this time, something was different.
In the past, all my other cats were friendly and loved lots of attention from the moment we got them. They wanted to be pet and loved their cuddles, but this cat was nothing like them. Instead, he was cautious and easily frightened. He had short, light gray fur that was unbelievably soft, a bright white patch of fur under his belly, and white paws that made him look like he was wearing socks.
When I’d go up to him, he wouldn’t hesitate to run those little white paws under the nearest couch or table he could find, where he hid until he felt it was safe to come out. This was something I had never experienced with a cat. I never knew what it was like to have to wait for them to come around to me. But for him, I had to learn to be patient, and that’s exactly what I did.
For the next few months, I did my best to take things slowly with this new addition to our family. I made very careful attempts to get close to him. When he ran away, I let him go, but I never gave up. After a few months, he and I got to the point where he would allow me to pet him, only if treats were involved. If I was sitting in the living room, he would hesitantly jump up on the couch and lie on the other side, never closer than three feet away from me. As time went on, I realized I was the only person in my family he did any of these things with. As time went on with this furry friend, one interaction we had made me understand that maybe he was more relatable than I first thought.
In the beginning, it was hard for me to understand why he kept his distance from everyone, but one night when I was lying in bed, music playing loudly in my ears, I was finally able to understand him. As I relaxed there, peacefully staring at my ceiling in thought, the scent of my vanilla candle filling my room, I suddenly felt movement on the end of my bed. Startled, I peered down to be met with the most unexpected little face. There he was, for the first time, jumping onto my bed without any coercion. We held eye contact like that for a second, and then ever so slowly I sat up, being sure to not alarm him.
I reached my hand out to pet him, still moving as slowly as possible, as he allowed me to scratch his head. Feeling his soft fur on my hands, very carefully he began to step even closer to me. The whole time, I was in complete and utter shock. I couldn’t believe this was happening, but I never once showed it. I kept my cool and continued to allow him to do what he was doing, at the pace that he needed. Just when I thought he wasn’t going to get any closer, he hesitantly stepped his little white paws up onto my chest. Once there, he stepped even further and slowly brought his head to mine, resting it on my forehead. We sat there like that for a second and I felt a gust of autumn wind come through my bedroom window, chilling my body as I brought my hands up to pet him once again.
At that point, it genuinely felt like after so long of being closed off from everyone, he just wanted companionship. Up until that moment, he lived a very lonely life away from everyone. He had walls of his own built to protect himself, never letting anyone in. Even though he still went slowly and cautiously, I don’t think he ever would’ve done this with me if I didn’t take things slowly with him. I was patient and I built our trust until the moment that he allowed me in because I know what it’s like to feel like this.
Most people don’t know much about me, I usually keep to myself. Even some of the closest people in my life don’t know simple things about me, because I have always found it challenging. I have these walls built, like him, which is why it was so easy for me to know to be patient with him. It’s something I have always wanted from someone. Being there at that moment also taught me a really important lesson.
It made me realize that sometimes, this is exactly what you have to do with some people in your lives. I’m not alone in feeling like this; not everyone finds communicating their feelings easy. Some people have walls built that need to be slowly broken down, just like me. When they finally find that person that is patient with them and understands to take it slowly and carefully, it makes the process of opening up so much more possible.
Try to be patient with someone if they don’t open up easily. They might just need some extra work, and that will never not be okay. If you’re like me, stay patient as well. One day, when you find the right person, they’ll be patient with you, too, and you’ll finally be able to let those stubborn walls fall.