“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin
I used to fear that putting my heart out into the world for love would guarantee sudden death in the form of rejection and abandonment.
It didn’t occur to me that in order to truly connect to another and feel the depth of life and love, I also need to open myself to pain and heartache.
In the past, I left a path of broken hearts, but never allowed mine to be touched.
I finally grew to learn that I wasn’t protecting myself from pain—I was ensuring I’d have pain. Ultimately, it became more painful to avoid the spectrum of feelings that come with opening myself up than it did to step into the unknown and be present with whatever arose.
I don’t think my experience is uncommon. Many of us avoid intimacy at all costs, going from relationship to relationship protecting ourselves, or avoiding them altogether. I used to use a crowbar to capture the hearts of others, while leaving mine safely tucked away from any potential threat. But, the irony is that there are no guarantees that I’ll be safe, ever, and all I was doing was depriving myself of experiencing the fullness of life and connection.
Why do we do we let fear get in the way? What are we so afraid of?
It is fear that is the real monster in the darkness. Fear echoes many things from the far corners of our minds. Here are some of the lines it used on me:
You’re unlovable and unworthy. No one will ever really want to be with you.
Loyalty doesn’t exist. Cheating is inevitable.
Healthy relationships don’t exist.
You’re incapable of getting through this without fucking it up.
Abandonment is inevitable. S/he’s going to leave.
Phew—exhausting, isn’t it?
It’s no wonder I didn’t want to put myself out there with that rhetoric going on. I spent years with so much fear about the “what-ifs,” only to find that closing myself off to the world brought me more suffering than opening up ever could.
I’ve learned that we have two choices: to treat these fears as truths to be listened to or to treat them as lies that our busy minds manufacture.
When we choose to disregard the chatter, we choose truth.
I believe that our destiny is abundance. Life is meant to be full and rich, not small and suffocating. Being willing to blossom means letting go—letting go of facades, judgments, and expectations. This last relationship, I was willing to show up—vulnerability seeping through every pore. Sure, there were moments when I felt myself tense and close off, but all in all I remained open and trusting. I believe that the risk it took to open up was less painful than the risk it took to remain chained to debilitating habitual patterns.
And here I am alive, with plenty of joy left.
When we let go of the idea that no one is truly worth trusting, we open ourselves up to the fullness that love has to offer. We realize that trusting may bring pain and sadness, but we can survive this sort of sadness. Our lives only get bigger when we open ourselves up to the beautiful messiness of all there is to feel. Instead of being driven by it, we can step into the fear.
We can open our own ribs, put our hands in the ooey-gooeyness that is our chest, and softly pull out our hearts. We can share it with full trust in the universe that the situation will unfold as it’s supposed to. When we decide that we’re worth it, we’re able to wholeheartedly experience the world.
I’m astonished by the quality of my experience and the lack of regret this time around, despite the relationship ending. After all, life is about continuing to put ourselves out there, always remembering that, at the end of the day, our hearts belong to us and should only be shared with someone who is willing to step into the world with us.