I watched another year end to the bright flash of fireworks across a dark sky outside my window.
I was glad to be out of the cold and glad to be done with this year. I rested my forehead against the glass, my house quiet behind me and simply breathed in and out.
Last year was brutal.
The Universe gifted me such lovely things, from a wonderful new career to new friends to a love affair I never anticipated. But it also took away my financial stability, work I enjoyed, and the same love affair it once gave me. In a single year, my whole life turned upside down, righted itself, and was turned upside down again. It was a rollercoaster ride, and as the fireworks lit up the sky, I was so grateful to have my feet on solid ground.
I’ve been asking myself how to move from a broken heart to an open one.
My first reaction in all of the shock and heartbreak, was to close in on myself. I wanted to build a barricade around my heart, buy new padlocks, and generally figure out a way to keep people out and all my love in. I couldn’t figure out how I could trust again, much less love again.
And yet, as I moved away from hurt and reached toward healing, I knew that the only way to put the experience behind me was to take that broken heart and open it. And not just crack it open a little but to crack it open wide—wide enough to let in new people and new feelings and new experiences and, yes…new pain.
But why would we want to open up our hearts when we know it means experiencing pain? It seems counterintuitive.
We have that survival instinct to avoid pain and to learn from our mistakes. Sometimes, we think our open hearts are what got us in this mess in the first place so we try to close them, thinking that we can prevent future pain if we just do this one thing differently. Yet so much of our growth comes from the struggle we try to avoid.
Our resistance to pain does nothing but make the pain worse. If we want to move beyond the heartache, the only way to do it (and not carry enormous baggage) is to open our hearts wide and let love back in.
I know it isn’t easy.
My heart has been bruised and battered by divorce, unrequited love, and by a love that I thought would be my forever love. But I have come out of those experiences wiser, even if I didn’t enjoy learning the lessons being delivered in such a harsh way. I came out realizing each time that I still need to put work into maintaining healthy boundaries.
I’ve figured out that I have to stop investing in people who don’t equally invest in me. I learned that I need to find balance in relationships and to learn to let go and move on when I’m not getting what I need. I’ve learned that I need to ask for what I want. I’ve taken so many lessons out of the experience of having my heart stomped on, and there is not one single lesson I will ever have learned from a closed heart.
So, I open it back up.
I can’t say that I’ve entered the dating arena fearlessly because I still have the fears I carry in a heart that’s broken and bleeding, however open and hopeful it may be. But I carry it gently, outstretched before me. I open myself up to meeting someone new and try to lean into the experience. One day, I might even lean so far that I fall. But until then, I will meet people where they meet me, finding the balance and holding my boundaries.
I will let go and walk away when my fragile heart isn’t honored. And it’s not easy. There will be times when what I need is to retreat from romantic entanglements and allow my open heart to heal in solitude. And that’s okay too. But I will keep it open because it’s the only way I can ever leave behind all of that hurt and heartache and find love again.
And we need to find love again.
Not necessarily in someone else. Sometimes, we need to find love in ourselves. In our families. In our passions. In our friends. But love is the thing that makes all of the hurt worth it. And when we are broken and longing for the pain to stop, that’s exactly when we need to open our hearts wide. Only then, can we let the healing begin and find love again.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Allef Vinicius/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen