Breaking Down The Walls


One of my favorite sessions at Blissdom was a writing session by Jeff Goins titled How to Fall Back in Love with Writing and Create Your Best Work Yet (you can find a very good summary here). It was what inspired my “State of the Blog” post and at the same time has me quaking in my boots.

You see Jeff ended his session with a challenge. He asked us write something dangerous, something you’re afraid to write but feel like you are meant to write. Then we were to link up on his site.

I immediately panicked because I knew exactly what that post was going to be.

It may sound crazy but this post has been trying to claw its way out of me for awhile now. But I am not a big fan of vulnerability and feelings and such, so I have stuffed it back down to its rightful place. Apparently my stuffing has been in vain. Because it appears this post is coming out anyway.

To start, we must go backwards quite a bit. I feel like I am about to lay down on the therapist couch. Won’t you join me cause we might be here awhile.

In elementary school I had a best friend named Jenny (see we are going way back). We were inseparable and although other friends were in our circle none were as close and Jenny and I. She was as loyal as a friend could be.

But loyalty isn’t a treasured commodity once you hit junior high. Popularity is. And Jenny wasn’t popular. So I ditched my loyal friend when the popular girls came calling. It is a decision that honestly haunts me to this day.

The problem with the popular crowd is that they are a finicky bunch. One day you are right in the thick of it and the next you are on the outs. These girls were most definitely my friends and at times I may have even been on top, but the further you climb, the faller you have to fall. And so I learned to grow a thick skin. I also learned over time that female friendships were not to be trusted.

As friends in high school and college disappointed me the walls grew taller, the skin thicker and the mistrust deepened. If you knew me during those days I think you would have said I had lots of friends (at least I hope you would have said that) but I really kept everyone at arm’s length.

This trend continued until I moved to Chicago. There I met some women who just weaseled their way in my life and wouldn’t let go. I am so grateful for that because little by little they broke my walls down.

But then we moved. I dug my heels in against moving because moving would mean leaving this community that was life changing for me. And I knew, that even with best intentions, those friendships would never be the same. Although those women are some of the most treasured people in my life, today it isn’t the same.

Blogging has been a double edged sword for me. On the one hand it has brought the most amazing women into my life. I had no idea I could develop such strong relationships with people who essentially live in my computer. Anyone who doubts the “realness” of a friendship that you make through blogging is probably someone who hasn’t’ been in the blogging community very long.

On the other hand, making friends with people online is an easy save for someone who guards herself against going deep. It isn’t hard to hold people at arm’s length when they are many states away and only available in 140 characters. I don’t mean to lessen the importance of these friendships because they are honestly some of the best friends I have known, but I still have managed to distance myself from all the messiness that “real life” friendships require.

Again, if you know me you probably think that I have a lot of friends (again, I hope you think that). And I DO have a lot of friends. But I can no longer pretend that they are the deep, meaningful friendships that my soul longs for. Which also means I have had to admit that my soul really does long for something more. Perhaps those walls I have built aren’t so solid after all.


  1. I’ve realized this myself: that making online connections is sometimes a means of hiding from real life for me.
    Jeff Goins recently posted…The Productivity Secret of Professional WritersMy Profile

  2. those words were bravely spoken. Im proud of you. And Im glad your heart longs for more. I hope you find those real, soul deep friends. I am in short supply of them in real life too, and this year I need to be brave and begin forming those sorts of friendships. thanks for sharing your heart.
    Frelle recently posted…Tuesday Tunes – Chris MannMy Profile

  3. Tricia says:

    Are you crazy? This is an amazing post. You shouts follow Jeff’s advice more often.

    I also think there is a large group of women out there who feel just like this. We all think everyone has close friends but us. I’m sure you’ll see that through this post.

    The other things I have to say will be sent privately. ;)

  4. Loved your honesty in this post! I can say I can relate to you on a lot of levels……this blog world has afforded me female friendships that I have never had before (not for lack of trying, but that is neither here nor there). Some of the “bloggers” that I consider close I have met, talk to DAILY on the phone and are planning group vacations with. I do see what you are saying though, about it being easy to hold them at arms length. It is certainly easy not to answer the phone or answer an e-mail when you don’t feel like it. Still, I think there has been more good than bad in it for me! Love this post— I am off to read more because I really love your writing style too!

    Ashley recently posted…Overheard In LA… {Part 5}My Profile

  5. Okay, dragged myself to the computer. I am one of those people that very often keeps the emotions hidden. I didn’t have any great traumatic experience to make me that way, it is just the way I am. I had a group of friends in school that were loyal and fun and I am still friends with them now. But I started making deeper connections in college and then after I became a mother. But I still tend to hold so much in, to put on a brave front, to act like I’ve got it all together. I know some of my friends see through it and reach to pull all of my stuff out but I resist. I think I even still withhold some of my emotional side from my husband! I was sitting in Jeff’s session on the verge of tears but I willed myself to hold them in–I didn’t want to cry in front of strangers! But then I did, in another session. Oops. Anyway, I get the soul longing. I hope you find some people that reach for your soul and pull it out, because life is better with those kinds of friends. It is worth the risk of being hurt.
    nicole recently posted…Just Write: WordsMy Profile

  6. Jennifer says:

    You struck a cord! Excellent post. Thank you for your honesty.

  7. Oh Jill.

    I’m so glad that you wrote this, I’m glad you attended Jeff’s session and that it spoke so powerfully to you.
    The tears in my eyes right now are of understanding and awe.

    Rachel – A Southern Fairytale recently posted…Capturing BlissMy Profile

  8. Wow, Jill. How do I say this right – I knew you kept people at arm’s length, but I thought it was just you. I didn’t realize it was sort of acquired. And I don’t do it, and I always get hurt, and I wished I were more like you; more careful. I respect the hell out of you for writing this post.
    Jen @ BigBinder recently posted…Shores and Islands – Mommy’s Time Out Weekend In Ohio!My Profile

  9. Yes. I actually came over from my email subscription to comment on this post. Thank you. You have pin pointed me in a small way too.

    This truly resonated with me. And I appreciate the link to the recap. I needed this.
    LaVonne recently posted…Mistakes in Moving from Blogger to WordPressMy Profile

  10. Jill, I could have written this. I need to work on this SO much. I want it for me. I want it modeled for my daughters so that they know what having genuine friendships looks like and they can have them, too.
    Heather recently posted…Mama’s Got a New LookMy Profile

  11. So well said. Brave. Honest. Deep. Open. Did I mention brave? I am a person who has only a few (really only one or two) very close friends. I have a lot of acquaintances, but only a select one or two whom I could call if my heart was bleeding.

    I loved reading this. Thanks for the insight, reflection, and openness.
    Sharon {Grumpy, Sleepy, and Bashful} recently posted…Just Doin’ What He Can With What He’s GotMy Profile

  12. A friend and I were discussing these very same ideas. She recommended a book, MWF seeking BFF. I just checked it out on my phone via the library…hoping to learn a few things.

  13. Steph says:

    I’m hoping I am one of the women in Chicago who wouldn’t let go . . . although I think God very carefully put us together. Remember I almost “traded” you with another small group before I ever even met you? (That sounds weird, but you were just a name on a piece of paper at the time…) In any event, your husband’s post on fb prompted me to come on over here and read this, and I’m glad I did because I just want to tell the world how GREAT you are as a friend. I don’t know what walls you speak of, or what you mean by “weaseling” . . . I think I came barreling full force into your inner circle, grabbed hold of you, and am still clinging — even from across the country! Love you, GIRLFRIEND!


    • Oh Steph you were totally who that whole section of that post was about. I miss you so much!! Are you sure you don’t want to move to Michigan? :) ps. I am FOREVER grateful to God for bringing you into my life. And to you for barreling in!!!

  14. Great post Jill. As a girl who always hung out with the boys to avoid girl drama, I’ve realized that maybe it was also easier to hang out with them because they didn’t ever require you to get too close or reveal too much. It took until having kids to really make some lifelong, soul-bearing friends. The problem is, some women expect that every relationship is supposed to be that way. Just last year I was accused of being not-authentic and trying to act like I had everything together all the time. The truth is, sometimes I don’t connect with some women on a deeper level and therefore I don’t share my heart with them. I don’t think that makes me fake. Maybe just picky? :)

    Love ya & your honesty.

  15. Great writing – I can relate to this post. Praying that you find the community of friends that you desire!
    Renee recently posted…So SimpleMy Profile

  16. Jill, I can relate to so much of this post. I absolutely agree with the having online friends theory. I think I spend much of my time online for the same reason. The friendship’s online, as real and strong as they are, are easier to keep at arm’s length than in-person relationships.

    I’m going to watch that session as soon as it’s posted. It sounds like it was amazing!
    Mandy Boles recently posted…Book Review: Starters by Lissa PriceMy Profile

  17. Jill,
    Such a great post! Thank you for opening your heart to us. I struggle with close deep relationships, and I too love my online friends, especially because you can just turn off the computer if you don’t feel like being friendly at that moment!
    I have been feeling a tugging at my heart to get out more, to reach out more, in person, so, I am joining a bible study a friend of mine is holding at her house, beginning next week.
    So enjoyed hanging out with you at Blissdom!
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom recently posted…Fast, easy, healthy snacksMy Profile

    • “I too love my online friends, especially because you can just turn off the computer if you don’t feel like being friendly at that moment!”

      Yes. That is so it.

  18. Katrina says:

    Such a great post :) I am the queen of building walls, hope you have great success in letting down your walls :)

  19. :)

    I’m not a sistahchick but I’m one of the real ones, right? Or else you fake reeeal good.

    (Proud of you for writing; glad the “claws” & Jeff’s session pulled this out of you. hugs)
    Robin recently posted…An Austrian wander…My Profile

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