when i met john in my early twenties – when we fell in love and it seemed like the only thing on the planet that mattered was love, our love, our togetherness – my heart felt open and wide for the first time in my life.
for me, opening my heart to love and vulnerability meant struggling with thoughts that i would soon lose it. for years, i struggled with thoughts of losing john to tragedy. i’d drive myself nuts each time he went surfing or rock climbing or back country skiing with thoughts that he’d never make it home (shark attack! falling off a cliff! avalanche!). intellectually i always knew these fears stemmed from suddenly losing a parent at a young age, but emotionally it took me a long time to trust that each time john left the house for a big outdoorsy adventure that i didn’t have to torture my heart with the what ifs.
i deeply believe that our hearts marry the hearts of people (friends, husbands, etc) who are meant to heal and nurture us in ways that nobody else can. it’s no accident that i married the heart of a man who is a risk taker, a person who loves life’s adventures and sometimes does scary (to me) stuff like go back country skiing in alaska for a week. over time my old wounds and fears of losing suddenly losing love have healed, one stitch at a time. i’m no longer tempted to close my heart to him out of fear that i’m going to lose him to that inevitable shark attack or avalanche. i just take the love as it lives. and it will always live.
i believe that learning to keep my heart open during our love and togetherness led me to the discovery of art which then, of course, opened my heart (and life) even wider. i have learned so much, so much, on the creative path. it very much keeps my heart open and challenges me at every turn to let life in. and then to let it go inside a painting, an essay, a photograph. and then to let more in. and then to let it go again.
and then we had baby true.
and now i’m discovering a whole new way to keep my heart open. it’s as if my heart grew up and out and deep and wide with his birth. it’s startling, feels deeply layered (love toward john, toward myself, healing, all encompassing) and it’s rushing in more and more with each new day of togetherness. in some ways, i’m back to my old torturous ways of fearing the worst. what if something happens to him? what if i lose him? what if, what if, what if. i can feel the struggle of my heart keeping its distance versus committing to being all in. i want to be all in. i want my heart to stay open, to widen more. and it is. it is….
i’m reminded of something my friend brene talks about in one of her dvds. she talks about how we can’t just pick and choose what emotions we get to experience and how when we try and block certain emotions through self defeating actions (like addiction or closing our hearts), then we also block the potential of fully feeling love and joy. we don’t get to pick and choose. that’s what i’m learning right now. by choosing to keep my heart open, it’s all rushing in. the love is big, the fears are intense. but i can tell, yes i can, that love is winning. because, you know, love always wins.
(and i can hardly believe all that was waiting when i finally opened my heart.)