Jordan Yates, one of my favorite writers once gave me a great compliment.

She consistently rips her beating heart out of her chest and hands it to you with the ever-hopeful request that you don’t break it.

Even when someone shatters it on the floor with bitter malice, she picks up the pieces and tries again.

This article is inspired by her words, and written with gratitude.

I treasure those sincere words fiercely. It’s the greatest gift you can give me for the holidays or my birthday. I don’t need gifts, I need verbal talismans of testament to the fact that my depression is wrong and I do have value. They inspire me to be my best.

I don’t think that’s true of me right now. I don’t hand my heart over with the ever-hopeful request that they don’t break it. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I can’t even offer my heart to those I care for the most. I’ve lost that openness and hope, that confidence.

It’s painful to admit it, but I am living my life with this constant terror in the back of my mind. I feel like if someone or something shatters my heart on the floor, I will fall to pieces and I won’t be able to get up again.

I’ve become mentally so much stronger. I’m a lot tougher and more emotionally mature, but it is unbalanced toughness that comes from totally destroying any remnent of vulnerability. I have embraced a siege mentality that has made me afraid to be open again. Instead, I barricade myself into my comfort zone. I am suspicious of the world.

I live in fears.

Fear of getting hurt if I open my heart to others and trust them.

Fear of of getting hurt if I step outside my fortress.

Fear of trying to push my limits because I’m afraid of failing and disappointing myself.

My mental strength still feels so fragile to me. I’m scared that it will shatter at the first blow to it. So the first sign of pain, I flee back to my comfort zone.

It has deeply affected my friendship with others. I don’t trust those around me to be there for me when I’m need them.

It’s not even their fault. I am fortunate to have great friends in my life right now. Even those who have failed me have worked hard to improve and mend the bridges. No matter what they do, I am still afraid of putting their friendship to the test.

I think it’s two reasons.

First, I’ve lost confidence in myself that I’m worth their loyalty. If I don’t like myself, how can i believe they like me?

Second, I’ve lost confidence that they will make the choice to be loyal. I know that by opening my heart, I can’t control if they will shatter me and I can’t stop them from doing it.

Krav Maga used to give me that certainty but I’ve lost confidence in myself as a practitioner. My rusty skills send me into a spiral of self loathing. I struggle with this fear of disappointing everyone, most of all myself.

And yes, anxiety and depression really don’t help.

It all came to a head when I tried to be vulnerable with a friend and it backfired badly. I could feel the words in my head that night as I looked up to the endless night sky. “Why can’t I be happy hiding away alone in the darkness where it is safe? I’ve gotten strong here, maybe this is where I belong? Why must I fight for a place in the sun, when I know the risks are so high.”

Today, I felt depressed so I forced myself to take a walk in the sun. As I walked, I look at the garden by my home. I see myself in the hibernated perennials, a very strong root system, hiding for safety.

Why not stay down below where it’s safe, instead of growing through the topsoil where I’m vulnerable to be stepped on?

The answer was simple. I wasn’t meant to be unfulfilled in darkness. I was meant to bloom.

Being strongly rooted is only meaningful to help me find the sun and blossom.

Yesterday, I said that I needed to regain my fire and challenge myself.

I need to balance my strength with vulnerability, my caution with hope and my high standards with reality.

I need to open myself up to trust again, both in myself and in others. It means I’m opening myself up to being hurt again. I need to learn how to live with the fear that everything will go to pieces again, by knowing I’m strong enough to survive it, but also living with the hope that instead of people smashing my heart, I will be appreciated by others.

It’s about letting go of the need for control and letting myself flow down in directions that I may not be able to control, and trust in my ability to handle what comes.

And yes, it means choosing to believe again, believe in myself and others, because that’s the person that is my best self. When it gets hard, I will remember, pain isn’t weakness leaving the body. It’s the breaking of the topsoil on my way to finding the sunshine.

Writer, lawyer, Kravist, friend