I occasionally reflect on doors and windows and gates. Not an obsession about checking to see if they are locked and secured 27 times you understand. Its what they represent as a picture or illustration in common expression or anecdote. When you visit old places in England or Europe the height of the doors and physical doorways stands out as does the placement of windows. I also noticed in these long-abandoned ruins or castles as well that you had to bend down to get through the doors. The windows were a witness perhaps to the best upshot of the industrial revolution. No longer closet hovels but an invitation for the outside world to be observed and a place to let light in. The German theme of the Torschlusspanik, the terror at the closing of the gate was there in the old towns. It derives from the horror in Medieval towns when you found the gates of the town locked at curfew and you were outside the safety of the keep. You faced the potential harm of wolves and brigands and violence. And no way of entering or pleading for entry as the gate was shut without negotiation.
The builder is here. Replacing a door. The new door is solid. Like things that are meant to be protective. It conveys a sense of privacy and maintains an inside space from the outside world. Its a proper solid door. It takes time to hang. There are technical difficulties to hanging doors. You have to make sure it maintains privacy and security and discretion. The door is like the new windows he is installing. Doors and Windows are functional. They have a job to do.
I mention these things not as an excursion into home maintenance. It brings me to reflect on the analogy of doors and windows that occurs in counselling.
I reflect that some people can have all the doors and windows of their personal house totally bolted. Double deadlocked and curtained. No one is meant to come in. And no one is meant to observe the other side or the inside of their lives. You keep community and others out. Fear and open defiance and even loathing might lurk within the doors and windows and gates. There is no invitation to the outside world or the people in it. And there is no entry and the closedness is simply more than just prudent discretion. Suspicion and withdrawal and cynicism to the outer world and a shutting out is part of the imagery such people project. They appear in counselling often as conscripts,brought by a spouse or partner at the end of their rope with them. Or they appear by themselves and have an expectation that you will work hard to decipher the reason for their attendance. They are prickly and defiant and dying through lack of sunlight.
At the other end are those who seem to inhabit houses with no windows and no doors. Or perhaps I should say the doors and windows are wide open for all and sundry to enter. Their house is open to the street and to the neighbourhood. There are no constraints. There is a blindness to their vulnerability and even to issues of their own health and mental safety. They make themselves and their families vulnerable by never imposing limits on who or how or what people may say to them or demand of them. They have little care for the impact on themselves or the capacity to say No or disagree or hold a contrary opinion. They are unable to say, thus far but no further. Others may choose to enter via the door front or back at will and others who should enter by the door simply climb in via the windows. Wide open to the house. Entering or exiting at will. They are there for other people in a naïve and unconstrained or even sentimental way. They have no borders nor boundaries. They see it as heroic to live that way. The harsh and takers and violent seem to smell where those unguarded houses and their occupants dwell time and again.
Doors and windows and gates are there for a reason literally and metaphorically. They provide boundaries and they are there to operate and make choices about when and how and under what conditions people come into your space and how you will choose to deal with them. Your “house” is your own. Its not healthy as a bunker nor is it a healthy space when it has totally fluid borders.