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September 6, 2018

The Surprising Way I Reopened my Heart after Heartbreak.

What is hanging from your rearview mirror?

Maybe it’s a macaroni necklace made by your son or your ID badge from work.

Whatever it is, these items have significance and can affect our state of mind on a subtle level.

For most of us, being in the car is a daily activity, and whatever is hanging in front of our face can influence our mood and the direction our thoughts take.

I’ve always loved found objects as art. I collect bits of metal, random sticks, and sea glass. I love looking at these objects and remembering my state of mind when I found them. I use them as a sort of emotional museum. You can find them all around my house.

Three years ago, I purchased a used car after separating from my partner. It’s a small Fiat, so I didn’t really think there was room for a charm to dangle from the mirror at first.

One night, my brand-new boyfriend and I had a terrible night of fighting. It was not a physical fight, just a very emotional and heated argument about the way I dance. My boyfriend was upset with the free and easy dance style I exhibited while he left to go to the bathroom at the club. I found him outside the bar hailing an Uber, and I asked him why he was leaving. He made it clear to me that I had overstepped a boundary that I had not known existed. We went home in silence, and he continued to inform me how upset he was until the wee hours of dawn, when he finally walked out on me.

I walked outside into the bright sunshine the next morning. I immediately looked down in the parking lot—and I saw a piece of metal. It had a sharp point. It whispered to me, “Be careful.” It reminded me that danger lurks in places where I didn’t think to look for it. I knew that it was telling me something important and could remind me of this moment.

I decided to hang this piece of metal from my rearview mirror.

For three years, I have been looking at it and remembering the pain I felt that day. When people ask me what it is, I say it’s an important memento from a time when I failed to use my logic and reason and let my heart rule my life with abandon.

In essence, this piece of metal told me every day to guard my heart. It said that my heart was untrustworthy. It said, “Stop foolishly believing in love.” And it also said, “Don’t trust anyone.”

So I decided to get rid of that memento.

A few days ago, I found another piece of metal that immediately said it wanted to be my new car charm. It was a long piece of metal—twisted and rusted, but malleable. I put it in my car and began to think about what shape the metal could become that would help me during this time. This afternoon, I began bending it, and it easily and naturally bent into the shape of a heart. Not a perfect heart, but one with some jagged edges—a little bit misshapen, like mine.

The new heart I have forged in the last six months is represented well by my new dangle. This heart speaks to me of openness and caring and opportunity and acceptance.

I think I will enjoy the lift I get every day when I see this new heart, rather than the old, jagged form.

I am lowering my guard and letting love back into my life.

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Shauntel Cooley

author: Shauntel Cooley

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