Guarded: How I Learned To Love The Walls I Built – Iman Milner

Photo credit: Xonecole 3 January 24, 2017 By Dang

“You’re too guarded,” he said.

This was his reason. This was why he couldn’t see me for me even after the better part of a year spent loving and building together. I cried on the other side of the phone because I felt that I’d been more open with him than anyone else in my past. Hell, we’d started dating after he was my friend through a terrible breakup. How could he not see me?

“What does that even mean?” I asked through tears, “I love you. I’ve been there for you through all of this. And you’ve been there for me…I’ve shared some of my worst secrets with you…” “That…right there…you said ‘some’. That is how I always feel—that I am getting some of you. I can’t do that anymore.”

I replayed that conversation over and over in my head for months. I combed my mind to identify the times that I hadn’t been completely transparent with the man who I loved and then it occurred to me—I had been. It didn’t take on the form that maybe he wanted but I had cut open my chest and showed him how my heart beat…what more could I do? I used to rebuke the part of me that didn’t make a new best friend in every social setting. I despised my unwillingness to share all of my truths at every ladies’ night. I ridiculed my inability to be an open book in past relationships.

I’ve always been selective with my sharing because I’ve always been observant.

I grew up in a household with two people who were more sensitive than a newborn baby’s soft spot. I’ve seen what betrayal does to a man who accepts people without judgment for a living (my father was a writer). I know all too well what disappointment does to a woman whose heart is always in the right place even when her words cut a little too deep (my mother is a dancer with a heart of gold and a mouth like a bow and arrow). I know what people do to people—-so I watch.
And wait.

Waiting has taught me this: my walls haven’t been built for fear of the opposition but in honor of the beauty inside of me. Every single one of the friends/lovers who have rallied for my transparency proved themselves to be people who wanted access to the depths of me just to say they saw what I had inside…not because they actually wanted the responsibility of protecting it

Know how I know?

Because they didn’t realize they had access until it was gone

Let me tell you what worthy looks like. Worthy sees the light you thought you lost to the darkness in your mind. Worthy knows when something’s wrong before the first tear falls. Worthy uplifts and makes you whole again. Worthy is nothing less than peace in the middle of your storm.
But more than anything: worthy never needs an invitation to prove itself. It just performs.

You are not destined to be alone and friendless because your transparency requires more than weekly brunches, happy hours, and mani/pedis staged for Instagram pictures. You are not impossible to love because you don’t want to share the story behind every scar that you wear. You are not “too strong”, “too closed off”, “too weary of others”, or any of the other “too-s”. You are protecting your light. And in this world, that’s enough of a fight. The battle to make your friends/lovers feel comfortable in their position in your life—let it go.

Have you ever struggled with being “too guarded”? How did you learn to embrace that part of you? Let us know in the comments below

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3 comments on “Guarded: How I Learned To Love The Walls I Built – Iman Milner

  1. Country girl

    Growing up,I was the quiet child. I tend to see through people,I knew when an aunt or uncle was just putting up appearances for us because our parents were there,I heard emotions instead of words,of cause I was hated for it,so I grew up believing everything was wrong with me. Too sensitive,too emotional and all the other too-s.

    As I got older,I read a lot of books(still do) and then I realised,its okay to not settle for just the basics,its totally okay to want more and most importantly,I realized I was never broken,have always been whole and there are thousands of other people out there just like me.I made peace with the fact that its okay to be different..to feel so deeply and I’ve loved myself ever since.

    Joined this blog only yesterday and it feels like home already. Keep doing you DANG




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  2. Toluwalope

    I can totally relate with the country girl. I grew up having so many friends and it was a big trying to be the real me and trying to be like everyone else. Unlike you however, I’ve been broken so many times and through it all now; I’ve learnt to be guarded even with so much complains from family and friends . I’m so in love with me that their opinions do not matter anymore.




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