At a young are we touch the flame, it is hot and it hurts. From this we learn not to touch fire.
We develop quick reflexes when something painful comes into contact with us – pricking our fingers with a needle or even hitting our elbow will cause us to pull away quickly.
As we grow, we go through these physical pain reflexes first. Then the emotional lessons come. We want our parents to always say yes, we want devoted friends and we want unwavering attention when we fall in love.
We don’t see our parents’ denial of permission to attend a party in our teenage years as fair, and a little hurt creeps in. Friendships change and we even lose friends as we grow and begin to move in our own direction. We fall into the most innocent, beautiful love of our lives, but sharp edges appear as we grow and move on.
We begin to learn that pain is in all of it.
We brush it off and pick ourselves up, and after time heals what it can we put ourselves back out there. We gain new friends and find new lovers.
But we get hurt again. Our instinct reminds us a little louder each time that we should keep away from things that hurt us, and so we feel inner turmoil as we hear people say we should love like we have never been hurt, always give the benefit of the doubt, forgive and forget.
But how do we take our most basic instinct and push it aside? How do we ignore the lessons of pain, one of our first learning mechanisms?
How do we retain a virgin heart? How do we remain soft and happy against a world that shows us a dark side with sharp edges?
We cannot. It is impossible.
We cannot change our past. We did love someone, and we cannot ever change that – nor can we wipe away the pain of its ending. We can only endure until the physical impact of it begins to waiver as time goes on. Right or wrong, we all play a part in both sides, and we all hurt from the times we didn’t quite get it right.
But yet, here we are. Still talking. Still laughing. Still making new friends and finding the right day, someday, to love again.
We fight the instinct of pulling away from the pain as we desire that innocent, beautiful love in our lives. We want to be loved, understood, admired and respected and so we battle on.
If you have been hurt and continue forward anyway, you have learned the lessons, enjoyed the good times they offered, and tried to let them help you grow rather than just use them to build walls.
No doubt a few of those walls crept up. All you can do is be aware of them and work at understanding their role in your future self. Do what you can to understand the walls you build around your heart. Unbuild them if you can because walls left unattended grow sharp edges, which might lead to you causing pain in another’s life.
It can be a sad and beautiful thing – our interactions with others in this world.
But for all the ones that don’t quite work out, for all the lessons, let it keep you strong in the relationships you do hold for a lifetime. Let it bring out the best in all your relationships with others. And I pray one day the gaps in your walls align with the gaps in another’s – if they haven’t already – and that you find someone special worth fighting those instincts for.
Photo by Jorunn Lorenzen