Disclaimer: This post is about feelings more than it is about facts.
FACT: I stopped being capable of feeling my feelings and it nearly broke my heart.
Every so often, when I read other people’s writing and they spew about their feelings, I think, “This feels like masturbation that’s been typed out.” (Yes, I know that’s judgmental, but while I periodically judge, I also quite enjoy these emotive posts.) If you think that’s what I’m doing in my posts, well… I hope you don’t think I’m doing this in my posts. I don’t really write for me, I write for you. I’d rather think of my writing as a way to engage with you and if you’re struggling to get past something, or think you’re the only one who thinks or feels a certain way, you’re not. If anything resonates with you and gives you some hope or less aloneness, this has purpose.
On a side note, masturbation also has its purpose, but I’m not going to get into that right now.
Earlier this year, the shackles which “guarded” my heart for many decades, flew open. My first (dishonest) instinct is to tell you that I didn’t mean for that to happen, but the truth is, I never wanted my heart to be closed in the first place. It just was, and it seemed like there was nothing I could do about it. As much as I wanted to, I seemed incapable of accessing my deepest, “in my kishkes,” type of feelings and nothing could melt my outer shell. This compromised my quality of life and nearly all of my relationships. (My children are one exception to this painful trend, and I am grateful beyond measure for that.)
I sort of accepted that this was just how I was going to exist. As a means of survival, I did a lot of “acting as if” and even pretending, because how could I possibly tell you that I just wasn’t feelin’ it?
I consumed a lot of ice cream and m&m’s during this lengthy time period. Sometimes while I was devouring m&m’s like it was my job, I’d find myself wishing, (even praying), that I’d become like a complexly delicious m&m. But, what if I only possessed the shell part? If you’ve ever just licked or sucked on the shell of an m&m, it’s not so yummy. It’s when you bite into the center and the flavors meld together, that you’ve really got something inexplicably wonderful.
I’ve spent very little time pondering what incidents, behaviors and tactics caused the slamming of the figurative door on my heart. There were obvious challenges that would challenge anyone. Still, I taught myself to accept that I would endure and survive these conditions, but not really know or believe in true happiness. So, I decided to (in)conveniently redefine happiness and peace. I had to.
The irony is that while my heart by all intents and purposes was closed, I experienced the worst pain of my entire life. Trying to survive became my full time job, shared only with m&m eating, workaholism, illness, and the enjoyment of the openness I experienced with my daughters.
I chose to believe and accept this means of existence whole-closed-heartedly. I would never know true happiness and peace. I would never fall in love with a man or with my work. I would never fall in love, period.
Then, something happened.
I’d like to tell you that in meeting a Prince Charming type, my heart cracked wide open. That would be (and is) a really romantic story.
That isn’t what happened.
Through a series of frightening, and even tragic events, (which I will likely go into more detail in future blog posts), all of the tactics and survival strategies I’d stacked on top of my heart for years, like a great game of Jenga, completely toppled. Everything fell apart around me. When I was left with all of the bullshit gone; no more pretending, and no more “game,” that was the moment I learned how it really feels to have an open heart and to finally, after many decades, fall in love with myself and my life. I am happy in a way I couldn’t even imagine.
My life as it currently stands is simple and shiny. I make less money than I used to (which I think is about to change, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too), I can finally look at myself in the mirror and be okay with who looks back at me.
People often question why in the hell I change my Facebook profile photo so frequently. The truth is, I force myself to look at myself because it’s something I could not do for so many years.
I am open to love now, because I’ve realized that I’m primarily made up of love.
Look, even I roll my own eyes when I read this back, (barf) but it’s true. It’s all true. Through illness, tragedy, grief and loss, I am left with love.
I am also left with a desire for m&m’s which I intend to buy and consume with my kids today. I don’t really crave them, but am deciding to have just one. I will lick the shell of it to remind myself of what once was, and then, I will heartily bite into it, savor every bit of flavor because that is what is.
It is an accurate, honest and yummy representation of life, love and my wide open heart.