Should We Build Walls?

January 2019

Are walls a good thing? Should we be erecting them? No, not the Mexican border kind ordered by an over-tanned, over-inflated world leader. But the kind that protect ourselves, protect our hearts?

We hear all the time about people having built walls up, not letting anyone in and it being a barrier for them to move forward and start new relationships. Often this is the result of a particularly bad breakup or a traumatic past experience.

I don’t have that problem. My problem is I have no walls. I don’t even have a little fence. There’s barely even a step at the front door.

The surprising thing is that I’m like this even after my divorce, hello bad breakup AND traumatic past experience. I had expected I may be battling to let anyone get close, to open up to people, to let myself believe in anything/anyone again. The only thing I do struggle with is trust, and so to a degree maybe there is an element of a barrier, but that doesn’t stop me letting people get as close as they want, as quickly as they want, as has been witnessed here, here, and here… in fact, just read the rest of the blog for examples.

Those experiences have unfortunately all resulted in my heart being hurt, to varying degrees, multiple more times. So while we often read and hear about how we should be breaking down walls, I’ve been wondering if I should in fact attempt at erecting some?

Would it stop me from experiencing the crush of yet another potential relationship failing? Would it stop the feeling of never being good enough? Would it quell the frustration at yet another effort being wasted?

The answer to all of those questions is “possibly”. But the added side effect is that by having those walls in place, I’d also minimise the connections I make, I’d diminish the experiences I could be having, there’s a chance I’d block out the very thing or person that could enrich my life. And surely that is worse than a little heart hurt?

Side note – I don’t call it heartbreak with these dating experiences, mostly because my heart was never fully exposed, it was never love and so, for me, I don’t feel like it was heartbreak. At least not in the way it was with my divorce, which was a heart shattering, million pieces everywhere, kind of a mess. So “heart hurt” feels a little more apt.

After all, you can’t experience love, joy, happiness, fulfilment, if you don’t also experience sadness, hurt, fear. One end of the emotion spectrum simply cannot exist in a vacuum. Brené Brown’s TED Talk ‘The power of vulnerability’ talks exactly to this. Brené states, ‘you can’t selectively numb”. If you numb the “negative” emotions, you also numb the “positive” emotions. And a life void of emotion doesn’t sound like much of a life to me, at least not one I want to live. So being open to all of it, the full gamut of emotions, is what can bring you a truly fulfilling life.

I would love to find a balance though; a happy medium between being wide open and totally closed off. Maybe I need slightly better screening of the applications to enter my heart space? Or trying to keep my emotions in check until I better understand someone’s intentions? Or even just expecting a certain level of respect, kindness and commitment from them? I guess most people would call that having boundaries? Yeah, let’s get some of them.

So instead of walls (which, FYI Trump, cost a fuck tonne), I’ll look to better understand, and uphold, my boundaries while still being open and vulnerable to all of the possible experiences and people and emotions that come with dating. Being an open book with my heart firmly on my sleeve is something I no longer want to feel like I need to change, or feeling shame because “I did it to myself” when another blossoming romance goes south.

I’m controlled and careful in most areas of my life, but when it comes to love I don’t want to be controlled or careful, I don’t think that’s how love is supposed to be experienced. I hope I’m forever an eternal romantic optimist, with no walls required.

“A woman who has endured pain, overcome heartbreaking experiences and still allows herself to be led by hope and faith; is truly unmatched.” – Dau Voire

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