It’s not easy, allowing yourself the chance to be happy – opening yourself up to the boundless possibilities of love and life.
We’re all so riddled with defenses: land-mines and barbed-wire fences set up to prohibit repeated pain, the repeated intrusion of unwanted outsiders. We learn from our experiences. We soak it all in. We grow to understand our weak spots, our vulnerabilities — the way we’re so susceptible to certain experiences, certain people, and we subconsciously make moves to prevent them from affecting us.
Just as our bodies build immune systems against the flu and common viruses, so too do our minds detect patterns in emotional pain and fight to stop them from reoccurring. We search for the symptoms, whether or not they exist, and we self-diagnose. We protect ourselves from the elements: from the sun, from the rain, from the howling wind and from the deafening hail. We feel safe, we feel strong — we feel invincible in our foresight.
The result, however, is that we become emotionally sterile, hard, closed off. We allow ourselves to be preemptively hurt; to have our current relationships and experiences defined and ultimately restricted by those of our past. We remember the way they held us, the way they kissed us, the way they made us feel so secure, so reassured. Then we remember the way they left us; sitting cross-legged on the pavement, staring at our phone, bruised, hurt. Beaten.
We remember the way one situation so quickly descended into another; the way the ground crumbled and gave way without sign or warning. The way we fell and scraped our knee, the way we bled. So we tread carefully, softly; analyzing each stone and pebble, testing their firmness, their ability to hold our weight. We lose trust in our path and faith in our ability to navigate it with all its twists and turns and dangerous, hidden wobbly bits.
We’re all such vulnerable, scared little creatures; scared of abandonment, scared of death, scared of loneliness, scared of togetherness, scared of happiness, scared of sadness — scared of love itself. We like to cope with the unknown by identifying it as best we can; categorizing it based on prior knowledge and research — packaging it up into a neat line of cardboard boxes, each clearly labeled with a simple “good,” “bad,” “yes,” or “no”.
It helps us feel in control of it all — despite our knowing that we never can be.
It’s often a difficult concept to grasp: the past being the past. You see, it’s really all we have to go by, the only indication we’re indulged on what the future may hold. So we shuffle forward, slowly, carrying a review mirror, always looking back in favor of walking blind. We hate walking blind.
To open yourself to the chance of happiness is to open yourself to the possibility of pain — the probability of disappointment. Is it worth it? Who’s to say. Perhaps one could live their life carefully — treading lightly along their given road — and reach the finish line feeling warm, safe and content. But I’d rather walk heavily.
I’d rather run down the path less traveled, aware of all the danger, fall to the the ground, get back up — and fall again. I’d rather reach the end covered in scrapes, bruises and ugly, crooked scars — battle wounds on which to reflect fondly. I’d rather be hurt and allow myself the chance to be hurt again, in different ways by different people.
Because the moment we block ourselves off from it, the moment we let our past protect us from our future, that’s when we become closed.
And now, more than ever, we so need to be open.