Why emotional defense mechanism can hurt you…

I am all walled up.  We’ve all been hurt before, we’ve all experienced the pain of disappointment in relationships.  It’s hard for anyone not to develop a built-in emotional self-defense mechanism when you get hurt.  When someone hurts you, you immediately put the walls up.  But what you don’t realized is that you end up incorporating this walls into your daily lives and decision making without discerning whether it is applicable to the circumstances, the people you are interacting with and the situation.  I recently had a self realization of having these walls up constantly that it was getting out of control.  After recently going through a divorce, I was using this tactic to cope with reality and keep my self -image intact.  At one point, it was helpful for adapting and coping, but I painfully realized that it does more damage than good. 

My realization came with a high price of losing a very important person in my life.  After my divorce, I was fortunate to actually fall in love again. That initial eye contact, a racing heart, warm flushed skin, sweaty palms and the giddiness that comes when one falls in love, I felt all of that.  However, the same degree of euphoric feeling of falling in love unfortunately created the same level of counter anxiety in my stomach of fear of getting hurt.  To ease my anxiety, I naturally put my walls up.  At first, you can justify there is nothing wrong with this.  This is actually a smart and sensible thing to do by protecting yourself from someone you barely knew.  But at what length of the relationship do you maintain this defense mechanism wall?  For a relationship to grow, you need to develop trust, open communication, understanding and empathy.   But with these walls up, how can it grow? I was so afraid of getting hurt that I didn’t even recognized how genuinely loving, selfless, trusting, caring and affectionate this new person in my life was.  As our relationship continues, he realized my disattachment from my emotions, the imbalance reciprocation of affection, and how he felt it was a one-sided relationship.  The more I tried to open my emotions to him, the more subconsciously enclosed I became. My walls grew higher by unwillingly sharing information about myself.  This process evolved into answering some insignificant questions with altered answers, basically lying even when it did not even matter.  I was subconsciously sabotaging my relationship. I could not disengage the defense walls even when I have decided I need to open up to him. He gave me so many chances to make it better, to make it right… He tried to ease my insecurities and warned me how this defense walls can get out of control and dominate my communication and decision-making and lead me in making mistakes that I will later regret.  He constantly reassured me that his intentions were always clear from the very beginning and remains the same all throughout our relationship. But this all ended the day he realized how much I was sabotaging our relationship with the insignificant lies and when he finally got hurt. The defense wall of not being able to tell him the truth broke our relationship which now I deeply regret.

As we were ending our relationship, he clearly pointed out I was not ready for a relationship. It was too soon. He predicts that my transitional period will most likely last about a year or so.  The only wish I could make is that I had met him in some other time in my life instead of now when I am just getting out of a divorce and still emotionally healing with this defense wall up. 

Now that I am consciously aware of all the mistakes and regrets I have made, I am consciously working on making things right. I asked myself can I ever be truthful in any of my future relationships? Only time can tell. However, in my heart and in my mind I know that this hard lesson learned is something that will always be in me because of the deep lost that it had cost me. So on that same day I decided, I will tell the most important people in my life the truth about me. Timingly enough, a dear friend and almost like a brother came and visited me.  Out of concern, he asked me what was troubling me so much. So I told him my past few months experiences and shared with him in all honesty my mistakes and regrets without altering anything and painted myself the way I really was towards the person that I deeply regret hurting.  At the end of the conversation, I realized how much easy it was just telling him the truth and how much it felt so good in being able to open up to him.  I finally felt my old self again, the feeling of calm, secure, and unthreatened person.  So I continued to openly tell all my close friends and my mother what I have done.  I wanted the important people in my life to know the truth about me, my selfish and destructive acts brought on by this defensive wall.  I believe the only way I can take down the wall brick by brick is by telling each important person in my life the truth about me and accept the vulnerability.

In the end, my defense mechanism only hurt me and I ended up hurting a person that I deeply cared about. I wish someday that I can be forgiven…  If I can turn back the clock, I would only change two things, take my defense wall down and start with the truth…

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