At the age of 22, I (Colleen) sat across from the man who would later become my husband, who noted that after observing me at work for a number of months he had some observations that he wanted to share. He wondered what had hurt me so bad that I was willing to go out of my way for others but not trust anyone to be intimately involved in my own life. He went on to share that he believed that each of us has a glass ball inside of us that contains our deepest secrets, needs, desires, hopes, and fears.
As young people, we quickly take this ball out and share it with anyone who crosses our path. He said, perhaps I had shared it on the playground with a girlfriend, who was careful with it until a new friend came along, and she accidentally dropped it. I quickly scooped up the pieces, glued them together, and put the ball back into my heart, waiting for someone else to share it with.
Then came along that boy in middle school who seemed interested, and I somewhat reluctantly gave him the ball. He received it until his friends started to make fun of him, and showing off for them, he threw it against the closest wall. I was shattered and quickly picked up the pieces, glued them back together, and tucked the ball back into my heart.
He said he imagined this scene played out over and over with others throughout the years, and sometimes people carelessly dropped the glass ball, but others threw it hard against the wall. Over time, I was unwilling to give up the ball to anyone. And I built walls around myself, not allowing anyone in.
I left that dinner in tears knowing that what I had tried to keep hidden, was now exposed to another. Bob was correct, I had no desire to give that glass ball to anyone ever again. It seemed so much better to be alone than become vulnerable to someone who could wreak such destruction upon my life. I learned to give to others only what I considered safe, and worse yet, learned to control them in the process. Especially the opposite sex, to get my needs met without sharing my true self.
What a dangerous trap.
And that’s the memo.
Colleen from our upcoming book, Embracing Brokenness