It means that you let someone in.
You allowed someone into your private little world of feelings. You opened the door and let them walk right into your heart. You loved and you trusted. You allowed yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions and you felt them all so deeply. You were consumed by these feelings. You embraced them. You welcomed them. You rode the euphoric high for a while and felt what it was like to love.
It means that you were hurt.
Your feelings broke like a heavy raincloud. You were betrayed.
Your heart, fashionably sewn onto your sleeve, had to creep back into the shadows. Your trust in love was broken. You feel broken. Something happened that made you doubt yourself, doubt others, and doubt the feelings you had. Did you love too much? Were you too invested? Were you blinded? All you are left with is pain and doubt.
You ache. You grieve. You heal.
It means you had to move on.
Eventually, you soften and learn to love yourself again. Though, over time you find yourself changing. Instead of sleeves laced with open hearts, you wear armor. You are guarded. Those feelings you once had are buried away and rest safely behind your emotional defense mechanism. No one gets in and nothing gets out. It is not that you don’t trust others; you don’t trust your own feelings. You might be ready to move on and meet new people, but they’ll only ever get your surface-level feelings. You’re not ready to feel again. You might not be ready to feel for a long while. That’s okay.
It means people will question you.
Why won’t you open up? Don’t you trust me? I’m not going to hurt you.
Why don’t they understand? It’s not them you don’t trust. It’s you.
You don’t trust your own feelings. Your head and your heart have not yet worked out a system that welcomes both logic and emotion. So you rely solely on instinct and rationality.
People will try to advise you. They will try to coax you from your inner shell. They will try to pry you away from the safety and comfort of your walls.
Clearly you’re not over your ex if you still feel this way.
It’ll be different this time around.
When will you be ready?
The questions will drive you nearly insane, but don't let them rush you. Don't second guess yourself. You are entitled to your space and all the time in the world to heal.
It means you will be smarter next time.
The next time you allow yourself to feel you will be in control. You won’t be blinded anymore. Your decision to feel again will be of your own free will. You will decide when to feel and whom you will share it with. You will decide how much you share. You’re opportunity to love again may come abruptly and catch you off guard, but ultimately it will be your choice to follow through or not. You will use your past as lessons to help you move forward. Eventually, you'll learn how to trust yourself, and others, once again. But this time you will be smarter, more aware.
It means you’ll have to be honest.
The hardest part about being emotionally damaged is trying to explain all this to a potential partner. First dates are usually not the best occasion to be frank about your situation, so avoid that. Honestly, it is very easy to scare people away. So you may find yourself avoiding the truth at the beginning of a budding relationship. But eventually, your facade will fade and the truth will need to come out. Be honest with your partner and also be honest with yourself.
I am complicated.
I sometimes don’t respond to text messages. I sometimes cancel plans out of fear and distrust. I tend to sometimes sabotage my own happiness. I overanalyze everything. I probably will still have doubts no matter how genuine you are. I may ruin something great for no reason at all, but simply because I am very complicated.
I am worth it.
I am more than long nights crying with a bottle of wine. I am more than the headaches that will come the next morning. I am more than my doubts and distrust. I am more than emotional instability. I am more than the twists, turns, and pulls in all directions. I am more than all the complications.
I am worth the effort.
Some people may never understand what you are going through. But the ones that do you’ll want to keep around.
It means you’ll need time.
The past is full of ghosts; even after they have left their effects still linger. The person who hurt you might be gone, but the scars are still there. You have a lot of potential to love. You have been there, done that. You know it exists. But being able to love someone whole-heartedly is not a switch that goes on and off. It is an experience that makes both parties vulnerable. It takes time to develop. Love is not an emotion that should be handed out freely. It is reserved for those that you trust and those that trust you. Love should be mutual. Never let someone pressure you into love. There are many things out of our control in this world, but love is not one of them. Don’t be afraid to love, but don’t be careless as to where you spread it. Those walls were up for a reason. Honor them. Listen to your head and follow your heart; let them work together and not against each other.
It means you are now stronger.
Your emotional baggage makes you stronger, not weaker. It is frustrating and complicated, but it means you know what it is like and have the capacity to love. You may feel hardened and lost some days, but have faith that soon there will be room in your heart. There will be room for someone special. Don’t rush it. Take care of yourself before anything else. Allow yourself time to heal and grow. Eventually, you’ll find someone who understands and doesn’t question your insecurities. They will respect your space and be patient through it all. Until then, have good judgment.
Open your heart slowly, gently, but be fearless. For there is no better feeling than to love and be loved.