If you would ask me to imagine a house it would always be one surrounded by a picket fence. As a child I would always draw houses surrounded by beautiful elaborate fences. I would imagine the fence to be magical. It would be a boundary beyond which no evil could enter. It would stop unwanted and unsavoury people from entering the beautiful house. No one with the evil intent towards the house could ever cross the magical fence.

Growing up reality took over.  The protective fence slowly disappeared piece by piece. There was no more magical protection to my house. It was vulnerable to anyone to attack it.

This house was me. It was my mind, my body, my soul and my heart. Somewhere in the process of growing up I chose to ignore this magical fence. I forgot about boundaries and forgot about protecting what was my own. Sounds familiar?

So what were these magical enchantments? Well there were many. The first one was probably the power of no. The ability to say no and to mean it. To not change it to a yes or a maybe under pressure. To not fall for false promises or logical reasons and change it. Somewhere we lost the ability to respect our ‘no’. The magic vanished and the ‘no’ lost its power. I started doing things I did not want to do only because of the outside world. From going to movies I did not want to, to wearing clothes I was not comfortable with to probably pretty much everything as per someone else’s wish. The magic of ‘no’ was lost to greater powers of deadlines, responsibilities, expectations and duties. The ‘yes’ of others’ became more powerful than my ‘no’.

The second one of the magic of love. The love of myself. The ability to love and accept myself unconditionally. The magic of the fence made the house feel respected and loved. The house felt beautiful inside out. However in the absence of the fence, the more powerful ‘self-doubt’ crept in.  The house started comparing itself to other houses. It started looking at itself through the eyes of others. It no longer trusted its own love. It relied more on what people felt about it. It began to doubt its beauty, its abilities and its own strength. It started to feel small in front of other big houses. The opinion of others’ became more powerful than my love for self.

Another one was the magical power of keeping toxics out of my house. The little picket fence repelled all the toxic elements and did not let them enter the house. But it is no longer there. Toxic people, toxic relationships, toxic expectations, toxic thoughts and actions all enter the house freely. They come inside and permeate the house till it loses its own sense of happiness. It damages the very foundation of the house and makes it unstable. So powerful are these toxins that the house starts to lose fresh air and chokes on its own doubts and insecurities, its own fears and anxieties.

So who tore the fence down? Who left my house vulnerable? When did it happen and why did I not realise?

If I am honest with myself I tore the fence down. Picket by picket without even realising it. Without making a conscious decision to do so.

Ever wonder why? Probably because I did not realise the value of the fence till it was gone. I failed to realise the essence of respecting importance of boundaries and personal space.

Perhaps because I chose to believe that loving self was selfish. That it was wrong to protect yourself. That being there for others meant disregarding your own needs.

Maybe I broke it down the day I devalued my ‘no’ because I falsely believed that it was necessary at that moment without realising that uprooting that picket will bring the whole fence down. That it will push me into a spiral where I disregard my own wishes and desires to the extent that they will even stop entering my conscious mind. That someday I will look at myself as a bad human being for wanting some ‘me’ time.

Perhaps I broke down the fence the day I believed I was strong enough not to need magic. When I started dealing with toxins simply because I could or I thought I was resistant to their effects. I did not see the long term implications of the toxins that slowly poisoned my system into believing that doing things for my happiness made me a failure at my duties.

However I know the fence can be rebuild. Not by anyone else but by me. Picket by picket I need a boundary to protect that little house. I need the magical enchantments back in my life. I need the fence to keep the evil elements out. I also need the fence to keep what is mine within. The happiness of doing what I like, the warmth of love, the fresh air of self-worth.

My house is the most beautiful thing that the creator gave me. My mind, my body, my soul, my heart, they are mine to protect. Because only then can I invite others in to feel warm and protected.

I need the picket fence to protect my house and the people who chose to live in that house.

 

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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