Years ago, my partner (at the time) told me that the thing he loved most about me was my big heart.
How I loved hard. How I gave my all to those I cared about.
I felt seen, appreciated. His words felt like validation.
Years later, he took my big, loving heart and shattered it.
After a long time spent healing, a man from my past wanted to see where the feelings we once had for each other could go now that we were older.
He messaged me one night to confess that he’d always admired my big heart and how deeply I cared for those I loved—almost to a fault.
Once again, I felt seen, validated.
But months later, after sharing big feelings and making big plans for the future, he took my big, loving heart—a heart that still had visible cracks in it—and broke it with one call.
It was after months of crying, of wrestling with my anger and the love I still felt (a love that just wouldn’t go away) that I remembered his words.
How deeply I cared for those I loved—almost to a fault.
To a fault.
It was the first time I saw my big, loving heart as a liability. As a thing capable of causing me so much pain.
I began to question how I loved. Was I loving too hard? Was I caring too deeply? Was I giving too much of myself? Was I giving away too much of myself?
And could everyone I gave my heart to see these faults?
Did that make me an easy target for those whose hearts were focused more on taking than giving?
Each question was like placing another brick in the walls I had slowly been building up for years. Except this time, I was sure that they were finally impenetrable.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to find love or let another person in, because I absolutely did. I just didn’t want it to hurt so much. I didn’t want to put all my energy into another person and be left shattered afterward.
I didn’t want to be the person that loved to a fault.
And so, walls…
I feel like putting up walls gets a bad rap these days. We cheer on those who talk about setting boundaries and having standards and not settling, but something about admitting we still have walls up around our heart leads to pity and judgment.
We’re looked at with sadness. We’re told we just need time to heal. We’re encouraged to keep loving without attachment. To not let fear keep us from pushing forward. To give love a second (or third or fourth…or twelfth) chance.
To find someone who will tear down our walls.
But that’s not how walls work—at least not mine.
The thing about walls is that it takes time to build them up. Every hurt and disappointment and negative word and painful memory and betrayal and rejection that we experience over the years is another brick we place. And each broken relationship further cements this fortress that’s been forming.
No one event or person, no matter how loving and well-intentioned, is capable of tearing down those walls for good—at least not without putting in some serious time and energy. And anyone who claims they can do so quickly and easily is simply announcing to you that they plan to be the next brick in your wall.
What does make a difference is consistency.
Finding someone who isn’t focused on knocking down walls. Someone who instead encourages you every single day, through their words and actions, to build a window or maybe even a door. Someone who is committed to making healthy choices and creating happy memories so that you finally feel safe enough to remove one brick…and maybe then another.
Someone who sees your big, loving heart and wants to guard it instead of take advantage of it.
Because while our walls are in place to ward off the wrongs ones and to save ourselves from repeating the same heartbreak over and over, they’re also designed to help us keep the right ones in.
To protect the ones who are finally committed to seeing our heart as an asset and not a fault.