Dissolving my Heart Wall

heart wall“Your heart is only functioning at 8%, emotionally. You have a heart wall 56 feet wide surrounding it like a fortress. That’s not good,” she said to me as though it weren’t a big deal. A friend of my boyfriend had read my blog and offered to do a free healing with me surrounding my infertility – and this is what she starts off with.

I knew what she meant. Despite my attempts and promises to go ‘all in’, I wasn’t. I couldn’t. In truth, I never have. Not with my ex-husband, not with my family of origin, not with any of my myriad friends with which I feel safe.

My heart wall has always stopped me. It has stood at the doorway of any relationship I might have entered, keeping me at a ‘safe’ distance. If I don’t let you in – not fully – then I can’t get hurt.

In theory, it makes sense – it’s like having a fenced in back yard so your children can play in safety without you watching their every move. In reality, it doesn’t work. You can only protect your children – and your heart – from so much. I’ve been hurt before – lots of times. My heart wall has never prevented me from knowing pain. But I think it has prevented me from knowing love.

By walling off my heart, I may have saved myself some of the pain I would have experienced – who knows? You can’t go back in time and redo a situation minus the heart wall. But I have also denied myself the freedom of knowing true, unconditional, 100% all-in love. I’ve always had one foot in and one foot out of every relationship I’ve ever been in – be it romantic, family, or friendship. You know, just in case I need to bolt. That way I’ve got a running start – well, in theory. But this one-foot-in-one-foot-out modus operandi has insured that whoever I am in a relationship with cannot meet my needs – I won’t let them get close enough to do that. Similarly, it has prevented me from meeting their needs at any level other than superficial. I see this now as a primary cause of the failure of my marriage – why my ex and I could never seem to meet each other’s needs. My heart wall prevented that from ever happening; the dissolution of my marriage, thus, ‘proved’ the need for and validity of my heart wall so that I would never get hurt like that again.

Yet, I find myself at a crossroads.

I have finally found a man who actually wants to meet all of my needs, who is ready to go all in. And I am pulling back – retreating behind the safety of my heart wall – while at the same time recognizing that the very pattern I am trying to escape from – getting hurt – is the very pattern that will assure I do get hurt again.

So how do I break down my heart wall? How can I demolish it for good?

It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far. Steps to removing your heart wall:

  1. Thank your heart wall for being there – you wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t trying its best to protect you.
  2. Ask it why it’s there – if you’re like me, it’s probably rooted in fear of some sort (e.g., fear of getting hurt).
  3. Ask what it needs to feel safe – what needs to happen for it to shrink in size? – Mine wants to make sure I don’t lose myself again, as I did in my marriage. It also wants unconditional love.
  4. Ask it what steps you can take to get its needs met so it can start to dissolve.
  5. Do that (whatever it asks for) to the best of your ability – baby steps are okay – my heart wall is willing to shrink, but isn’t quite ready to completely disintegrate yet.
  6. Keep checking in – making sure you’re not forcing the issue – asking your heart wall to go away is telling it that you don’t need its protection anymore. It’s not as simple as knocking it down. Since it thought you needed its protection to begin with, convincing it that you know longer need may not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and your heart wall.
  7. Love it – above all, love it, love yourself – its job has been to protect you and it’s done that to the best of its ability. So show it – and yourself – some love, appreciation, and kindness. Only then will it feel save to dissolve on its own.

Do you or have you ever had a heart wall? If so, how did you get dissolve it? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear about your journey.

Here’s to loving ourselves so much that we allow others to love us 100% – no walls necessary.





  • Ronna Ashland-Berkowitz says:

    Your story about your Heart Wall could have been written with my name attached! I am going through the exact same issues, where from a very, very young age, I built up a wall around my heart. In the past few years I’ve been working feverishly to bring that wall down, which has happened for the most part, but there are still outer layers that need to be peeled away, like an onion. My strongest desire is to have all the layers disappear!!! But some part of me is still hesitant because I’m afraid of being hurt again. All I’ve ever wanted for the past say 20 years is a little bit of peace and happiness (an ability to really laugh). I’ve just turned 60 and I’m so determined to live the balance of my life (another 30 years at least!) in peace and harmony! Just not quite sure how to do that and not have the wall come back up!

    Thanks much for listening AND understanding!

    • Mary E. Pritchard, Ph.D. says:

      Hi Ronna!

      It’s certainly a process. You just have to keep checking in with yourself and seeing what you need to feel safe enough for that heart wall to leave and stay away! 🙂

Leave a Reply