Her heart is hardening again. She can feel it in her chest, like carrying around a brick. Her own chain-link fence of protection. Every now and then, she feels a prick of pain in her heart - it must be the spikes jarring against it.

Poor girl - every time her walls get knocked down, they only get built back higher and higher. No one can scale them at this point.

Lost loves, grief, abusive family, toxic friends - they've all broken her beyond belief. You wouldn't recognize her now from four years ago. She was a much happier person, outgoing, friendly.

But this girl? This new and improved version?

She pushes people away, she withdraws when she's hurt, she doesn't know how to love because every time she's shown it, it's snatched away before her very eyes. Eyes filled with hot tears, choking back her own emotions.

So she soldiers on, she pretends nothing bothers her - she pretends she's not hurt. She wears a mask to keep everyone at bay. It's better that way, right? She's better off on her own.

Maybe it's why people keep leaving, keep showing their true colors to her. Maybe she was designed to be alone.

It's not as if she hasn't tried to be better - in part, she's a better person than she used to be.

She tries to be kinder, she tries to be patient, she tries to be loving. She tries to keep being the best person she can, to make up for past transgressions. Or maybe so that people will love her enough to stay this time.

She hates herself, too, though. Hates herself so much that she takes all the blame with a stiff upper lip, never once demanding apologies surely she is owed.

But no. She's not that kind of person any longer. Almost as if all the fight was bled out of her, just like all the love she'd shown them, seeping away as if it never even existed.

But one secret, one she's never told...is that she desperately misses that girl she used to be.

That happier, sweeter version - the one people used to care for.

The new version is older and wiser now, wiser to the world and its ways.

What she wouldn't give to be that young and naive again - to believe that love could be given and taken so easily, shared freely between souls.

That girl had faults, like anyone else.

But, oh, how I miss her.