I have always considered myself damaged goods. My definition of damaged goods is being emotionally unstable and having a lot of issues when it comes to relationships. There is not a single relationship that I have been in that I haven’t had these problems.
I am emotionally damaged from being hurt and heartbroken over and over. I remember a time when I thought everything was going to be fine and I was ecstatic. I was so in love with this guy, although I never told him so. We had the same dreams and goals. We could lay in bed and talk about how we wanted our lives to be into the early morning hours. I felt like myself when I was with him and that I didn’t have to pretend to be someone that I’m not. I was really happy because I had never had so much in common with one person. I could tell him anything and he wouldn’t judge me at all. He was actually very comforting, and I loved just being with him. It didn’t matter if we were out or stayed in, I was just happy that he was there with me. I felt like he always had my back and I had his.
Sadly, he had the same issues I do when it comes to relationships and as a result things didn’t work out. I was devastated. I would lay in bed at night crying, trying to figure out what I did wrong. I thought that it was all my fault that our relationship didn’t work. I was sure that I was the problem, that I had caused him to not want to be with me. Was I too clingy? Was I not good enough in bed? Did I say or do something that made him run? From there on out I made a promise to never let another man get as close to the real me as he did. It was almost as if we were soul mates, but the world would keep us apart. Just like my friend Amber said to me, “Maybe it’s just Hollywood love, the type of love that you see in movies.”
But it wasn’t just this breakup that made me feel like damaged goods. I have experienced enough heartbreak in my life to make anyone scared to love. My life has not been easy, partly because of my own horrible decisions, but also because of decisions made by my family members. It’s made me bitter and indecisive. But I still tried to fall in love, hoping that I would be the one to break the pattern of heartbreak. But I ended up feeling the same heartache I had experienced growing up. So, to make sure that I didn’t break my own promise to myself, I created walls. I refused to let anyone get too close, not only in romantic relationships, but in every relationship. I have put up walls to protect myself from all of it.
I got so tired of repeatedly being hurt that I started to become someone that I didn’t like. I figured that I would inevitably get hurt by anyone I was with, so I decided that I was going to hurt them before they got a chance to hurt me. I created these masks, different personas almost. I would transform myself into whoever the guy wanted me to be. I didn’t want anyone, especially guys, to know how fragile I really was. So I hid behind those walls and masks.
What I know now is that I’m not damaged goods and I can’t let my fear of getting hurt keep me from letting people in. When I keep people out, the only person I’m hurting is myself.
I want more than anything to be happy in life and to achieve my goals. I think that by actually seeing that this is my problem, I can find a way to heal and let go of the pain. I need to find inner peace and the strength to push past my fears. Here are a few ways I am trying to overcome my fear and be more vulnerable.
1. Building doors, not walls. My problem is building walls, but the force and trauma that can come with knocking down a wall might not be the best solution. What I really need is to think of healing as building a door. That way, if someone comes knocking, I can choose when to let them in and allow them a glimpse into my world when I feel I can trust them.
2. Setting up boundaries. Setting up boundaries in my relationships might seem like the same thing as building a wall, but it’s not. Boundaries allow me to start healthy, slow-paced relationships. Moving forward in my relationships within the safety of certain emotional and physical boundaries gives me space and time to get to know the other person and build trust before letting them in.
3. Talking about it. I have realized that leaving the people who love me in the dark only creates confusion and hurt feelings. Talking about my walls and personas with people who want to love me helps them to understand why I do the things I do and gives me an opportunity to explain how important it is for me to build trust before I let them in.
4. Writing it out. I write down whatever issue I am having, which helps me to go through the motions of processing it and then trying to come up with an answer. Through all of this I just try to stay positive. I have also found that keeping a list of all the ways I have found strength in myself is very encouraging. And that’s what everyone needs: to believe in themselves and know that they can do it, and that they’re not alone in this crazy world.
These are just a few ways that I have been trying to overcome the wounds from my past, and I hope that it encourages others who are going through something similar. Do you have any other suggestions for overcoming my anxiety and fears?