An Armor Breaks When You Caress the Soul
An armor is a symbol of having suffered too much. It’s the protection people choose to use to halt their deterioration, to avoid ending up broken. It’s a defense mechanism, their temporary rescue, and their way of silently telling the world “Enough!”.
Living with armor isn’t an easy task, because beneath it hides a fear of getting hurt. This is one of the most paralyzing fears that a person can harbor. Fear makes you create walls, stop feeling, and live an anesthetized life. Life wears you down and exhausts you to the point that you prefer to protect yourself and stop feeling as much as possible instead of experiencing the sting of your wounds.
“Your armor, it shields you from any woman who would destroy you, sure enough. But unless you let it go, it will shield you as well from the only one who can love you, nourish you, save you from your own protection.”
The wear and tear caused by suffering
Life isn’t a path towards guaranteed happiness. Uncertainty, instability, and suffering are things you’ll find along the journey. You’ll confront them better if you’re capable of foreseeing them and preparing yourself. No one is immune to suffering, but it’s essential that you learn how to manage it. Otherwise, darkness may devour you.
To live is to face risks, to accept that everything doesn’t always happen the way you’d like. It implies embracing moments of happiness but also accepting that suffering will call at your door every once in a while and put you to the test.
Managing the blows and healing one’s wounds isn’t an easy task. You don’t always have the best support system, resources, or strategies and, even when you do, sometimes you don’t know how to use them. Some people manage disappointment and unexpected events better. Others let these things influence their mood. And others decide to protect themselves in order to limit their suffering. Now, the method you choose will, in some way or another, influence your daily life.
Nevertheless, regardless of the way you choose to confront your suffering, when it decides to stay by your side, it generates physical and emotional consequences. On one hand, it traps you in its reluctance, in a lack of absolute motivation and pleasure (anhedonia). If you don’t keep an eye on it, it could send you right down the road towards depression or anxiety. On the other hand, it wears you down physically. It exhausts you, eliminating all of the energy you have. In fact, on a deeper level, it reduces the release of serotonin and increases the amount of cortisol in your system.
The false protection of an armor
Each one of us has our own armor, our own defense mechanism, our own personal shield to protect ourselves against pain. It’s a normal part of life. In some way or another, you have to safeguard the most delicate part of your being. You have to make yourself strong against possible threats and setbacks.
The problem arises when you put this armor on… but don’t destroy it later on. That is to say, it takes over your life and ends up turning into a very conservative filter through which you observe the world. Erecting walls isolates yourself, not only from suffering and uncertainty but also from affection and any kind of social experience.
In an attempt to protect yourself, you end up self-boycotting to the point that you block yourself off emotionally. Not feeling, in order not to suffer. You repeat this inadequate strategy because, at some point, it ensured your survival. You should be careful because you can end up paying a very high price for using it. And the price is ending up empty inside. That’s the fine print of the contract that you don’t always read or keep in mind before you begin creating barriers.
Then again, that void translates into an absence of emotions, an absence of that ability to feel alive and to connect with others. Thus, it’s not uncommon for you to soon end up prey to the very thing you feared, suffering. Whoever said that not feeling anything keeps you from having a bad time?
Armor is an unconscious trap that chains you to discomfort disguised as sensations of protection and security. That’s why it’s so important to identify and reflect upon the different kinds of defense mechanisms.
“You need more courage to confront suffering than you do for death.”
The art of caressing your soul
Oftentimes, those who hide behind armor tend to use defensive attitudes so much that they end up distancing everyone else. Their fear of getting hurt is so strong that, even without wanting to, they drive everyone away. Even anyone with the simple intention of getting to know them and, in some cases, loving them. This occurs because if you protect yourself so fiercely, it’s usually because you’ve been a victim of heartbreak.
Thus, in order to avoid reliving the sting of their wounds, they act like rabid animals protecting their land. The other person, any other person, becomes an enemy. Any small contact with the armor of someone attempting to protect themselves could lead to sorrow.
What antidote can revert all of this damage? Is there a remedy that can break down the armor of people who have undergone so much suffering? Can we help them destroy this armor? First of all, it’s important to point out that armors are destroyed slowly, little by little. It’s a process which requires a dose of love, comprehension, patience, acceptance, and, of course, effort.
As you can see, there’s no magic solution that will fix this. A deep connection with the other person and, of course, with yourself, can help. Thus, anyone interacting with an armored individual must understand that, most of the time, it’s not them talking, it’s their fear. It’s the huge monster possessing them and making them believe that feeling nothing is the best way of avoiding pain. Understanding their fears will be a very important aspect of the relationship, as well as showing affection and abandoning any demands to improve. That is to say, you have to learn to caress their soul, touch their sensitivities, and make them feel protected.
“Love doesn’t work any other way.
It’s not by force,
but through caresses,
that armor can be opened.”
Most of the effort comes from whoever created the armor. They’re the one who must understand that avoiding suffering in the medium and long-term generates more suffering. Despite the fact that life isn’t always easy, suffering is simply another chapter of their story. Thus, they must get rid of their guilt and that tough, rigid attitude in order to embrace themselves and take the first step towards love. Because treating yourself well when you’re hurt if the best healing power.