I was watching Bones the other day, and something they said really hit me. I'm sure this idea is not originally from Bones, because I'm sure I've heard it before, but that's where I heard it last.
Bones said to Booth that "a substance that's impervious to damage doesn't need to be strong." The idea, I guess, is that even if something is very strong, it is still breakable; for example, stones are very tough, but even diamonds can be broken. But if a substance is untouchable, its strength doesn't matter, because nothing is able to affect it.
I've always been a very touchy person. It's difficult for me to take criticism of any kind, though I understand it's often in my best interest, and I'm willing to take it if I have to. But when people yell at me, I cry. It's not something I can control--believe me, I've tried. There have even been times when I didn't feel anything emotionally, and in my head, I kept thinking "why am I crying? I don't even care." But it doesn't matter. I'm easily hurt, and easily offended. Most people probably don't realize it, because I'm not usually the type to lash out, and I've gotten good at hiding disappointment and sadness. But it's there.
When I was a kid, it was a major problem. When my dad yelled at me, I cried, no matter what it was about, No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop. But he never did understand that, and he somehow got the idea that I did it on purpose, to make him feel bad, or to get him to stop, so when I cried, it just made him madder.
So I spent years attempting to harden my heart, forging a layer of under-armor just beneath the skin. Every time I hurt and wanted to cry, I imagined my heart as a hunk of stone, cold and hard, and the words were like rain washing against its surface. But, given enough time, water can chip away at a stone until all that remains is a handful of sand. And my heart was no different. No matter how hard I tried, I never could keep myself from crying; it only made things worse when the shell finally broke.
And I realize it's because I wasn't addressing the real problem. I was treating the symptom, the crying, rather than the source. It's like telling a teenage girl that people are only making fun of her because they're jealous. It might help a bit, but the true problem is the self-esteem; she will never stop being hurt until she looks at herself and thinks that she's beautiful. Because then it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
Unfortunately, I still don't know what the source of the problem is. It may be that I'm just a touchy person, but that's not who I want to be. I don't want to have to be strong anymore. It's hard, tiring work. It's like patching a dam. I want to be impervious, so I can focus on other things, like raising my daughter, writing a book, enjoying life.
I may never discover what makes me so touchy. Maybe it's impossible. But I guess all I can do is try.