I’m the kind of person who wears their heart on their sleeve. I either give you my everything, or nothing at all. I either speak my soul, or put walls up and run away. Or sometimes both, one after the other.

Being this way, like with anything, has it’s pros and cons, it’s own little yin and yang. It means I can form relationships quickly, and deeply. I’m trusting, and I’m not afraid to be my true, authentic self. I shed my layers and shine my light and as soon as I feel that we click, I’ll tell you about my past and my fears and lay the workings of my mind bare.

But too many times have I done this, then soon after been left behind. Too many times have I been told they felt the same way, to be rejected whilst they go back to their ex. To think I’ve found a best friend only to be ignored for the next month whilst they hang out with someone more popular, to think I’ve found a romantic relationship only to be pushed aside for someone else. To trust is good, but too easily is not. I let them into my mind and my heart to have that energy sucked out of my soul.

Teaching yourself to be cautious in moderation is hard. Trying to find boundaries is difficult when you have memories of rejection and abandonment wanting you to detach from anyone that seems like they’re too good to be true. Years of telling yourself you must have done something wrong or that you must not be good enough, cool enough, pretty enough is hard to unwrite from your mental monologue, hard to fill in the scratches that were etched and carved into so often.

I flicker between trust and denial, giving and hiding, loving and detaching. But I’m committed to learning where my balance lies, in what I give out and what I let in. How permeable I make the boundary I so quickly construct; the rough, ragged wall that so quickly erupted from the red-raw foundations, the cracks each person left behind.

Right now I’m choosing to rebuild that wall - with awareness, with careful consideration of it’s structure and it’s materials, it’s height and it’s strength. I’m choosing to fill in each of those cracks, with gentle words of kindness, of realisation, of truth. Realisation that relationships; whether romantic or platonic are two-way streets. You can’t possibly, when something goes wrong, look at the situation and immediately decipher; I’m in the wrong, what did I do wrong? We need to unlearn putting blame on ourselves, looking for fault in a situation and concluding, ‘It must be me.’ Rather than punishing yourself, teach yourself. Find the lesson entangled in the mess that’s left behind, and iron out the creases between the intention and the impact. Remind yourself of these lessons, absorb and embody them; use the situation not to self-destruct but to self-empower. Learn. Grow. Stick these teachings on that wall you built. Let them make it - make you - stronger and better than ever before.

Alexandra Murray-Reynolds