A few years ago I was in a really dark place. I was in the midst of an unhealthy relationship and it just seemed like there was no way out. To make it worse, I found myself in another hurtful situation after swearing to myself that I would never let it happen to me again.
Yet here I was.
It was the worst feeling. I hadn’t stood up for myself, didn’t know my true value, but was scared to get out, not knowing what waited on the other side. The darkness was closing in and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. In addition to writing, I often turn to music not just for enjoyment, but for comfort and in search of answers. Rhythm and Blues/Hip Hop singer Mary J. Blige had a song out at the time called Hurt Again. In the lyrics she talks about keeping her guard up in order to avoid any future hurt from anyone. She says:
“I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I promised never to be hurt again. Never again…
I don’t deserve it,
I can never get hurt again, never get hurt again, never
I don’t deserve it,
I can never get hurt again never get hurt again, no…”
This song spoke to me at the time, but unfortunately I have to admit it wasn’t helping me. I made a vow to myself to never let anyone hurt me after getting out of such a painful, soul crushing situation. What I also did (unknowingly) was put more walls up for protection. Walls that were unhealthy and self-destructive.
Closed heart = no healing
The problem with being overprotective from past hurt is, you press the pause button on life. You may think you’re living and moving on, but in actuality you’re not. The walls that you’ve put up have stopped you from trusting and being open – 2 things that are necessary to get on with life. Of course, it’s easier said than done, but I’ve learned that opening up again is the only way the wounds can heal. Now don’t get me wrong, you definitely need time to get yourself together and move on. You’ll be down for a minute, but don’t let that minute turn into hours, or days, even years.
Years later, after getting out of that painful situation and learning to live again I found myself thinking back on that song, how the answer to a broken heart was to not let anybody in again. That gave a sense of triumph and control, which made one feel better.
It’s all false.
Triumph and control is not closing up and putting barriers in place. I learned that opening up with the possibility of being hurt again was better AND healthier than staying closed.
I know. It’s hard to digest, but that’s what I’ve been hearing and feeling. Over time I had to accept and start living it. That false sense of control only isolates and creates misery. It makes people with good intentions harder to be comfortable to get close to you.
People are going to be people which means:
- You will get hurt again
- You’ll be disappointed
- You’ll be let down
BUT because of what you’ve been through, you’ll be able to handle these moments much better. You will not let them fester and eat you up from the inside out. You will not isolate yourself out of self-pity and frustration with people in life. You will learn from the experiences and continue to live. All of those defense mechanisms we’ve build up because of past pain only puts an ugly wall around us, keeping out people you may need in your life. Keeping you away from moments and connections that will benefit you and help you heal. Remember, when you cut yourself and cover up the bandage with a wound, you have to remove that bandage at some point in order to avoid infection. That wound needs to air out in order to heal!
So I know Mary was just singing about her experience and her pain, which is fine. I realized that I should NOT stay in that place; that at some point it is best for me to open up my heart again and not hold on to what has happened in the past. I also should not make decisions about my present and future based on what has happened to me in the past. It’s not fair to the people in my life who mean well – most of all, it’s not fair to me.