Escaping the Solitary Confinement of Emotional Protective Custody

After witnessing a murder, witnesses are often in fear of their lives. This causes authorities to place them under protective custody. Protective custody then protects an individual at high risk of harm that could be perpetrated by outside sources.
Isn’t this the same in relationships? In reality, a break up often resembles a violent crime—even a murder, in some cases. Once you witness the harsh crime of your heart being played with, tortured, arguably within an inch of its life, why wouldn’t someone want to protect it and hide their heart in an undisclosed location? I’ll call this condition, “emotional protective custody,’’ the real-life equivalent of putting your heart in the witness protection program.

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In most case, break up victims just resume their lives, pretending as if nothing traumatic has transpired. Instead of allowing themselves to feel the pain of the breakup or properly process the events that have recently taken place, they start to supplement the recently altered part of their lives with new hobbies, new interests, new friends—and often new lovers—whatever they can do to numb the pain they are feeling.
Often times, after a painful breakup, the heart, as well as the mental and emotional stability of the victims become overlooked. In general, people rarely question what happens to any of the parties involved. I mean, of course, we typically expect for break-up victims to place all emotions on lockdown—nothing in, and nothing out—hiding the pains of the event.
They rebuild the gates around their heart with erecting tall walls, strengthened by self-induced isolation, cynicism and an attitude far too thick to be penetrated by outsiders. As the neo-natural soul chanteuse Erykah Badu coos in “Fall In Love (Your Funeral)”: Uh, you better get on away from here / Huh, you gon’ see, it’s gon’ be / Some, slow sangin and flower bringing / If my burglar alarm starts ringing / See you don’t wanna fall in love with me.”
How long should someone live under emotional protective custody, though? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Solidarity and safety are good, but in emotional protective custody, cabin fever begins to set in. Instead of helping to protect us, staying under it for too long can cause spontaneous and reckless behavior that leads to even worse consequences.
Eventually, boredom makes a person sneak out of the confinement: hoping their faith has been restored and trusting that no one is trying to hurt them. Bored, scorned and broken breakup victims will teeter into unsafe territories, in hopes that the past will not dictate their future, praying for someone to tell them it’s safe to breathe, love and trust again.

But soon, we realize that protective custody can sometimes hurt us deeper. At some point, it becomes necessary to put things into perspective and pull ourselves out protective custody. How do yo do this? At what point does emotional protective custody become solitary confinement? I’d dare say, some small part of us remains in protective custody forever, always afraid of being hurt. The key is to challenge one’s self to break free from custody when our minds have healed.

Written by: TaMon Kane