A shield is a typically a piece of combative gear one uses to deflect the shots taken at someone in battle. It literally “shields” them from the dangers that is coming at them full force. However, some dangers get through the shield. This is inevitable. The shots make direct contact with you, it either hits somewhere that the shield wasn’t large enough to cover, or it penetrates the materials that the shield is made with.
When I think of shields, I think of films that depict the middle ages like A Knights Tale.
As you can see in the photo above, Ledger’s character is covered in armor, and typically has a helmet with a mask and a shield in his hand while jousting.
Okay, okay, you may be wondering why I am talking about shields and armor. It is really just an analogy that has been brewing in my mind that I would like to focus on with this entry. When going into battle, a knight is covered from head to toe in protective gear, with a shield and weapon to complete the ensemble. Even with all of this armor that is supposed to protect them, as in The Knight’s Tale, many times the weapon penetrates the armor. It may soften the blow, but the pain is still there.
A knight is revered as someone who is brave and courageous. Once they are decked out in their gear they are out fighting battles, knowing full well that they could get hurt, but they are going with the best resources that they have and hoping they have victory despite the odds.
This reminds me a lot of dealing with hidden mental illness. There is a metaphorical suit of armor that I personally feel as though I wear that hides the pain that is happening inside. It is strong and to the outside viewer, they may never know that I am even wearing this armor. They may not know that I have a shield at all times in front of my heart to keep those feelings from getting hurt.
However, as with any armor, there are times that you are not fully covered. Words or actions penetrate the shield I have set in front of me. The mask is no longer protecting my face and you feel naked and vulnerable. It could be just a song or sound that triggers a memory that you were hoping to forget, a words or phrase that hits the wrong chord, and those shields that you have up become penetrated and crumble.
I would love to get to a time that I can remove this armor, put down the shield, take off that mask. However, for know I am going to look at all of this as though I am a knight, brave and courageous for going out there and fighting the battles that are in front of me no matter what. That analogy is one that, for now, is hard to believe, but one day, perhaps this knight can retire my shining armor and run around naked a la Geoffrey Chaucer.