No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I wept several times that day. I sent her a message on Facebook that said “congratulations.” Doing so hurt more than almost anything I’d been through to that point. My mind laughed at my heart because it knew my heart had no choice but to give up.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I whispered it all the day long. I had lost her. She was gone for good.

Again I slouched into the dirt next to the slowly breaking wall around my heart. There were holes big enough that horses could fit through the wall now. How the holes enlarged I didn’t know. Why they were growing, I couldn’t guess. Sleep never came to me that night.

The pain. I had been hurt by women for close to a decade beyond anything a person should have to endure (and I’m sure I did my fair share of hurting back). And yet… I had never felt pain like that. My arms hurt. My legs hurt. My neck and back ached. My muscles all seemed to clamp down together and force me deep into the ground below me. As I lay there, I felt as if my core would rip in two. The valves of my heart worked overtime for hours to keep up with the adrenaline that my sadness kept injecting into my body. It wasn’t all mental. The pain was so bad, and so intense, that my entire body and heart physically hurt.

So this is love, I thought. Real love. I had never experienced it. I had been married twice and I had never loved anybody the way I loved Tweni.

As the sun arose the next morning, I forced myself to my feet, reached up, and felt my chest. Something was different.
My wall was gone. My fortress no more. At some point during the night, it had tumbled. It had fallen apart. The wall had, it seemed, evaporated into thin air. My heart was now open. It was now free.

You see, there was only one way for that wall to come down, and that was to learn that it hurt far more to lose somebody I truly loved than it ever would to be hurt the way I feared loving another would hurt me.  No betrayal, no viciousness or harsh words, no back-biting, and no end to any relationship could hurt as much as I hurt that night. I knew it, and my heart knew it, and without ever asking my mind for consent, my heart took the wall down. It knew it couldn’t go through that again. And so now it protected itself by refusing to let itself be guarded. It would finally be… safe.

It is too late for Tweni and me. I recently had the chance to look into her eyes once more and see for myself that the love that once was there was there no longer. But in so many ways, I am thankful beyond thankful for everything she gave me. I am thankful for the way everything went down. She gave me the greatest gift any person could have given me… Freedom to both love and be loved once again.

You see, I would never be able to truly love any woman as long as that damn wall was in place, and nothing else could have taken it down. Nothing. So for that, I will say thank you, Tweni. May your forever happiness be your reward for everything you’ve done for me. I will never forget you.

In truth, I have struggled to know whether I should share something so personal as all this on Single Dad Laughing or not. I have always been very cautious about sharing anything that has to do with my love life. I wrote it several weeks ago as a way for me to understand the pain I was going through. Writing is, after all, the only way I have ever truly been able to communicate with my soul. I cannot lie to myself when I am writing; to do so would destroy it for me. I had no intentions of sharing it.

But in the end, I decided to share it for one reason. I am not alone in any of it. The world is full of those who have built walls to guard their troubled hearts, those who are desperately trying to connect to people on the other side of walls, and those who have experienced or are experiencing true and painful heartbreak. If my words and experience can make the difference for even one person, it will have been worth sharing. If even one person can see for themselves the far greater potential for pain when walls exist… if even one person is able to keep from unnecessarily losing the love of their life… if even one person is able to dismantle their own fortress and love once more… it will have been worth it.

And while my heart may be sad for some time to come, it is also free to love once more. It is free to truly let her go. My heart is free to make my decisions for me from here on out. In the end, it is my heart that will get to laugh at my mind. And I’m excited for that.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. I’d love to hear your responses today. Has the end of love ever caused you or anybody you know to build a fortress around their heart? What are your thoughts on today’s post? Are you experiencing any of this right now? If you’ve experienced having your own walls in the past, what finally helped you bring those walls down?