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Opening Your Heart Again

August 21, 2010

“To hide the key to your heart is to risk forgetting where you placed it.” – Timothy Childers

Opening up your heart again after being abused is something I’ve wanted to write about for some time. I haven’t done it because I haven’t had the experience.

Until now.

People enter your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Usually, they waltz in when you least expect it.

Recently, the Universe randomly plonked someone into my life. With blatant disregard for politesse, this person asked me straight out why I had erected a huge wall around myself, felt the need to be a domineering arrogant bitch, and if I planned to shut out every man that tries to get close to me for the rest of my life.

Ouch. Truth hurts.

Once I managed to pick my jaw up off the floor I finally admitted – to him and to myself – that I did want to be close to someone again. I was just terrified of letting anyone in because I was afraid of being hurt again.

Ex-victims of domestic abuse will know this feeling well. It can be very difficult to trust a man again. Intrinsic trust is replaced with wariness, suspicion, and a supercharged bullshit radar that baulks at anything remotely resembling an interested Y-chromosome.

This is perfectly normal.

When you’ve been hurt badly, it’s sensible to keep your heart locked away for a while. It’s your survival instinct kicking in to keep you safe when you’re vulnerable. The problem is that keeping your heart buffered indefinitely results in emotional stagnation. You withdraw into your comfort zone and miss out on the happiness, excitement, and new experiences that caring about another person can bring.

A carefully guarded heart can never experience the full spectrum of human emotion. It can never hurt because it never cares. It can never break because it is never whole. As much as we want to believe we are totally self-reliant, the truth is that we need to love other people and have others love us to live a truly fulfilling life. Letting other people in creates a richness of experience that is impossible to achieve as an individual.

Don’t pressure yourself into caring for someone before you’re ready. It will take some time before your emotional wounds are healed over enough to let anyone close to you again, but avoid letting cynicism remain as your default state once your healing has run its course.

Eventually you will cross paths with someone patient and persistent enough to pry away your armour and peek at the soul hiding underneath, but it’s you that has to have the courage to take that leap of faith.

Has the time come for you to open your heart and give someone a chance?

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