Open your heart, they say.
“What the hell”?! The brain responds, “Why would you do such a thing? You have been pummelled and broken in the past; why would you risk it?”
I know, I know….But I will tell you why, dear brain.
Recently, I have been taught a lesson. I have known a certain person for the past eighteen years. They have been present for my celebrations, and throughout hospital trips. They have given me numerous hugs, and support. However, I always felt as though I didn’t know them at all…
There was a tremendous amount concealed under their strong façade. This well-known person knew many famous people, and jetted around the globe, but I doubt anyone was let in; really let in. Professionally, they triumphed, whilst personally, there was a series of heartbreaks. I think those of us who loved this person felt helpless, and didn’t know how to help. Our offers of visits and dinners through the worst of the traumas were greeted with a mumbled, “thanks, I’m fine.” I had come to accept that this friend would be like a cloud or a delicate cloth in my life, sheer and offering nothing of weight. They would be there for me, but wouldn’t allow any of us to be there for them.
I accepted this arrangement because I understood. I understood what it was like to be confused by people. To open up, amidst assurances of support, only to be abandoned (again). Rejection is horrible, and all the more painful when you have split yourself open and revealed your layers, piece by broken piece. When you have rehashed your history in the hopes of being understood… The brain says it was a waste of time, and vows to never let it happen again.
The other day, I met my friend, and as we embraced, they held on for longer. I saw the mask sliding as I turned to look them in the eye. Hope above hope, I asked them to lunch. To my amazement, they accepted. They lead an incredibly busy life, but were able to shift appointments around, and to lunch we went.
Over our meal, we talked about many things. They showed me photos of their travels; the people they had met, and what had given their life meaning and joy since we last met. They mentioned their loved ones, and the pain and happiness they have endured. They mentioned themselves within our conversation, lifting the veil so I could finally see them in all their beauty and brokenness. I loved this person for this act of bravery, and it felt as though I was meeting them for the first time. By disclosing so much of their heart, they allowed me to do the same.
Don’t close off your wild, beating heart (sorry brain)! It will only keep you within the loneliness of which you want to escape. It will cause you to isolate and to despair. It is of no use. The heart wins; it has to.
If you find yourself vulnerable with the wrong person, disconnect and find someone who is capable of listening. Seek out those whom have been on the periphery of your life, just waiting for an invitation to your table. We can’t do life alone; we weren’t meant to. By accepting an invitation to lunch, my friend gave me a gift above all others.