updated 08/29/2013 AT 5:30 PM ET
•originally published 08/29/2013 AT 11:30 AM ET
After successfully battling ovarian cancer for the second time and sharing her journey on PEOPLE.com, Diem Brown is back to blogging. This time around, she will not only share updates on her own life, but also about competing on her new show, MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals II.
Walls are made to keep things out, to keep things in, to maintain good boundaries among neighbors and for protection. I feel the same can be said of emotional walls.
My last boyfriend told me he could never “get to me” that I never fully let him in” and, in all honesty, his thoughts were true. I don’t feel like I ever gave him that access, because in my mind, until I walk down the aisle, then the relationship is not a certainty and it’s not forever.
And even after marriage, there are still no guarantees. You can date someone for years, be best friends, but when that relationship ends it’s gone, and all your emotions are supposed to be magically erased that person is supposed to be left in your past.
That concept of investing so much time into knowing and loving someone and then one day having to pretend like it never existed just seems off to me. That’s why I put up walls and that distance is taxing on relationships.
I understand why closing and sealing up past romantic relationship books is the healthiest thing to do after a breakup, but at the same time that s why I have always invested so much more into my relationships with my girlfriends. Friendships are more stable, less fickle there are no “breakups” – sure there can be fights, but the concept of “forever” seems more possible with my friendships. A statement like, “I wish you let me in, the same way you do with your girlfriends” is fair; it’s true because my walls are up when it comes to romance.
We all put up walls for different reasons. I think if I had to point to the primary reason for my wall popping up, I’d say it has to do with my mom passing away. She was my best friend, my idol, my everything and then in one day – Poof! – she was taken from me. After that, speaking or hearing her name was emotional torture for so many years.
I subconsciously built myself a lil’ ol’ wall to protect myself from feeling the near destructible pain of losing someone again; someone I thought was impossible to lose. Regardless of whether it’s as a result of death, a bad breakup, rejection, betrayal or failure, once we have been hurt we tend to find ways to avoid experiencing that pain again in the future.
My battles with cancer also provided more bricks to be layered onto my wall. Having an illness where you rely heavily on others is a scary thing to relinquish control to. It’s scary to say, but I put up the biggest walls to surround my heart when I’m at my most vulnerable.
A Defense Mechanism
When I had cancer most recently, I tried to push my boyfriend away. I thought to myself, “It’s better if I break up with him than if he breaks up with me.” I had no control over my cancer, so I wanted to have control over my relationship. I didn’t think I could handle the thought of him breaking up with me mid-treatment … when I would be at my lowest. Yes, it’s a classic defense mechanism.
Thankfully as high as my emotional walls were during my treatment, they were equally just as transparent – he saw what I was trying to do and ignored my attempts and stuck by my side throughout my entire cancer battle. We are no longer together, but I will be forever grateful to him for not letting me push him away when I needed him the most.
The emotional recovery time for cancer is not as easily measureable as the treatment regime. I still feel that my walls are high and I’m afraid to let someone fully in. I know my relationships with my family and girlfriends are enduring but when I think of romantic relationships they feel so uncertain for me to fully let my guard down. If I sense a possibility of getting hurt, I find some ridiculously idiotic way to sabotage that relationship before it hurts me. Stupid? Why yes, I am at times.
I know I have gotten better because in the past, I could have never acknowledged what I’ve written above. I am trying to be more open and honest about my reservations, in hopes I can someday overcome them.
I think women crave stability, but no matter how you slice it, romantic relationships aren’t 100 percent stable. I am however, learning to understand, accept and be okay with that concept. Like I said before, I’m a work in progress.
Trying to Change
I think that best explains why I felt for Frank while filming the Rivals 2. He didn’t like who he was on past shows and he made efforts to change.
I wasn’t privy to the unsavory comments Frank had made about some of the other cast members, however, Frank and I would have long conversations about our desires for personal growth and I was proud he was trying so hard to change.
Frank had helped Jonna in real life when she moved to L.A. He let Jonna stay with him, use his car and helped her after her relationship with Zach ended. That’s a sweet, selfless deed that shouldn’t be forgotten just because of some silly game. Frank had Johnny as a partner and Johnny came into Rivals 2 with Paula, Camila and myself having his back and vice versa. A game strategy shouldn’t be tied to a character dig at Frank.
Now that’s not to say Frank’s innocent. He has a sharp and sometimes venomous tongue. I don’t agree with some of the things he has said, but I do see that he wants to become better at controlling his temper and tongue. When someone says they want to change I will always applaud and support their efforts.
We all have walls and defense mechanisms we use to protect ourselves from getting hurt. We all have room to grow and overcome the fear of rejection, vulnerability and pain.
In the end, those feelings of hurt help you learn to become stronger, smarter and better equipped to deal with life. I think walls can be good but eventually you have to make sure your walls are scalable enough to let in those who love you.