(from Brainstorms)

I built a fortress around my heart,
day by day,
year by year,
brick by brick,
until I couldn’t feel
what it was like to be me anymore.

Moving through the rhythm of my days,
blocking out the things I thought might wound me,
but also holding in
the fullest expression of myself
for fear of failure,
of rejection.

I am trying to let down my armor,
to let those guards who have been faithfully protecting
the softest, most fragile part of me
take a well-earned break from their duties.

As cracks begin to form
and rays of light penetrate to my core,
I begin to feel more intensely:

the joy of a connection with an unexpected friend,
and the profound pain when that friend is in
distress and reaches out for help.

the exquisite ecstasy of allowing myself to really feel love
and the fear that if I dive too deep I might drown.

the exhilaration of turning a corner
at the moment the sun dips below the horizon
and seeing the cloud-streaked sky ablaze with color
and patterns more magnificent than fireworks,
jolting me awake as I remember

there is so much more to this life experience
when I allow the emotion to filter through.

The feelings overwhelm me
and I hurry back to the security of my barricade
like a startled turtle hiding in its shell.

But slowly, patiently,
I am building the courage to keep sticking out my neck,
gentle with myself,
knowing that one day soon
I will learn to live life in full bloom.