You’ve let me down in ways I’ve struggled to understand and accept.
I don’t think this is a unique experience. In fact, I think it’s completely ordinary. I think every one of us has been on both sides of this equation over and over throughout our lives.
We become so immersed in how we feel right now that we forget that our feelings are bound to change. We rely on each other’s feeble, impossible plans and promises to always keep loving us and we forget to rely on the inevitability that things will change and our expectations will never be perfectly met. We forget to rely on our inherent ability to adapt to the ever changing landscape of love, to the ground falling out beneath our feet, to the inherent cycle of destruction and rebirth.
You let me down in ways I’ve struggled to understand and accept and I’ve been walking a thin line. On one edge is an abyss of anger, hurt, abandonment and betrayal. It’s deep and if I fall in, I know my heart will shut down for a very long time before I find a way to pry it open again.
On the other edge is letting it all go. It’s deciding that none of this really matters and that you don’t really matter. I think if I let myself fall into that abyss, I fare no better.
So my questions is: “How do I keep my heart open?” Because that’s really the crux of this, isn’t it?
If I shut down my heart now to avoid this pain, I will have to keep it shut in order to keep the pain out. Years will go by and I’ll be walking around with a tender wound inside of a heart locked shut.
No. I desperately want to learn to live with my heart wide open even if that means my heart has to learn how to swallow and transmute even the most senselessly painful parts of life.
So how do I keep my heart open? What do I need to see here in order to be free? I have sat alone for countless hours working on this question and trying to get it right. For much of this time I felt paralyzed because I didn’t understand what happened for you and I couldn’t hope to because you would not tell me. If I’m honest, I wanted to understand so I could work out the conditions of my heart remaining open. But my love cannot be conditional and remain free, so I had to do this without you.
I asked for a message. I asked God to show me the lesson that could set my heart free. I asked and asked and asked. And finally it came.
I saw that everything that corroded in our love, all the ways you retreated, took your attention off of me, ceased to cherish me, stopped prioritizing our relationship, fell out of love with me, and couldn’t acknowledge it even when I begged you to look at what was happening to us…all of those things were just places your love got stuck making its way out of you.
Amid all the places your love flowed freely, these were just the places you were not free to be loving. They were places where you were truly powerless to be loving, probably because to be loving in those spots was too threatening to some sense of safety that you built up a long time ago to protect a younger, more vulnerable version of you. You are made of love, like we all are. But, like many of us, your life has given you wounds that calcified in you and created blocks in the flow. That’s all it was.
And all the places I was unsatisfied, all the places I relied on your love to provide me with a sense of comfort that I couldn’t proved to myself, all the times I thought I couldn’t live without you and put that pressure on our love…those, too, were just places I was not free to love you through my own wounds. They were places my need to protect myself won out over my ability to send you love, free and untainted.
Yes, I feel let down. Yes, my heart got broken. Yes, I wish you could have done better. I wish I could have done better, too. But I am not going to shut my heart down over it. I’m not going to let this, too, become a wound so that it, too, can calcify and further block my love.
No. I’m not going to attempt to heal by sealing my heart up tight.
Instead I am going to let this heartbreak crack me open and I’m not going to put myself back together this time. I’m going to open my heart way up so that I can fit that much more inside of it. I’m going to make room for disappointment. I’m going to allow betrayal to also have a spot in my heart. I’m going to welcome those who are not free to love me without abandoning me into my heart too. There is room for all of these wounded forms of love inside my heart.
There is room for all of it because I can now see it all for what it really is. In the past I had to protect myself from those forms of love because I didn’t see them as love. I could only see them as threats to my faith in love…and I had to keep them out in order to avoid getting wounded myself, to avoid letting them shut me down.
But now I feel the strength that comes from including them in my definition of love. Heartbreak, disappointment, betrayal, and abandonment are all perfectly ordinary expressions of love. And I will not close my broken heart to them.
Author: Summer Engman
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Unsplash/Vicky Reyes