It's a strange feeling to look inside yourself and find a place that was once a roaring fire of emotion, and now it's just a pile of wet ash, not even smoldering because it was pissed on.
Okay, so I let that sentence get away from me, but the core is still there. I suppose it's just the process of life though. You open yourself up and let the world in, and if something goes wrong you need to put up walls so the destruction doesn't consume you. You end up with small shelled-in areas inside yourself. Memorials to times of passion and hope.
A recurring image in Haruki Murakami books is that of a person having a hard shell inside of them that holds their true self. The one part of themselves that needs to be protected at all costs. That's not the way I see it though.
In my view, your true self is imprinted in every fiber of your being. The only way to protect it completely is to never subject yourself to life, but that is also a form of starvation, and your self will die a slow, lonely death. Every step through this amazing and strange world that we've created is another small alteration to your self. And, every time you need to close off a part of yourself (most often as a self-preservation mechanism to minimize damage) you don't lose a small part of yourself, you simply seal it away. There may be a time you try to open that seal, or there may not. You can't fully protect yourself in any way. The only thing you can do is trust in the most fundamental, beautiful, and possibly dangerous of human attributes: we adapt and we keep going.
Even if you seal a small part of yourself, even if you do it many times, you've still got the vast majority there. Maybe you are a harder you, but you don't change too much. So, you find a way to work around the pain. You either put it away in its compartment, or if you are truly determined, you can break down those walls and try to reclaim what is yours. Try to rebuild what was broken. It is likely the most difficult thing that someone can hope to achieve, but the answer can only be found in the attempt.
Even if you learn that trying to stitch everything together will never result in a perfect fit, then you have gained a new perspective. And, maybe you will find a way to simply accept trials of your life as lessons to be learned and pains to be left behind. Supposedly, with every door that closes, another is opened, but that isn't quite true. Often times, when one door closes many others close along with it. You just have to hope that you are close enough to the path to find your way.
The past is always behind you, the future always ahead, and as long as the road is under foot, you've gotta just keep on keepin' on.