My relationships have made me realize, I am not as strong as I think I am. Through the immense joys and upheavals that is inevitably part of loving someone besides yourself, I have come to realize---I am tender hearted...and I hate it.
“Be kind to your heart,” she said to me several times, as an equal, a mentor and woman who was once broken-hearted too. Until that moment, I thought I had been.
But, Renée is no ordinary woman. She is a match-making master and unconventional wounded-heart healer, whose five simple words sparked a light of clarity inside me.
I could see why this 24-year veteran on the front lines of making love happen for those like me, who seek the relationship of their dreams yet continuously find it just out of their grasp, connected with her. It was ironic that I found myself being interviewed when I was there to interview her.
In just a few moments, without much exchange, she knew my heart was suffering in love.
Her soft healing gaze peered through her thick, sparkly black glasses, looking me in the eye but in what felt more like my soul. This was a look I knew well. With her petite, well-dressed frame and spicy, honest demeanor, her reassuring touch on my forearm reminded me of the intuitive connectivity I give to others. She saw herself in me and I saw myself in her.
“Be kind to your heart.” Could I ever allow this to be my new mantra? It certainly beat the repetitive phrase I was using to berate myself at the moment.
I wanted to cry as I had done all weekend and so many times before—in the silence of my bedroom as I nestled myself in heaps of pillows that I hugged like a person in a big bed meant for two. I tucked myself under my warm sherpa blanket and habitually tortured myself by reviewing the painful parts of my relationships over the last 10 years, the parts that left me where I am today—alone and afraid.
I was afraid I had run out of time, beauty and youth. I was afraid I had become too used to living alone. It horrified me that most of my friends and extended family assumed I wasn’t interested in settling down. And while my mom and dad hoped I’d meet someone who would love me as much as I loved them on the one hand, on the other they suggested that maybe marriage wasn’t for everyone.
I was afraid of another breakup and the broken heart that would come with it. The worst part was I no longer trusted my ability to choose the right mate for myself. So I grieved for all of it. I grieved for every decision I made that kept leading me to this pitiful moment inside my being. My heart screamed in pain.
My actions were not exactly being kind to my heart.
I felt so removed from those five simple words, even though I had offered them before as a panacea and elixir of wisdom to those who shared space with me in the hopeless corridors of the broken hearts club. I was silent when Renée touched my arm. She held my gaze as the images of how very unkind I had been to my heart flashed through my thoughts. From the unkind words I used to beat myself up as I cursed the universe, to the choices I made in my past relationships—she seemed to know my secret.
Hidden deep behind my genuine smile, sarcastic wit and sassy personality, one of my deepest vulnerabilities came through: I was tender-hearted and I hated it.
Somewhere along the line I had learned that being tender-hearted was a weakness and I became my own warrior in the battlefield of love. I crafted an adult suit of armor made of beauty, humor, intelligence, charm and wit. My unbridled passions, tender heart and low self-esteem were often at odds with the shield of words and confidence I carried…and I suffered. A lot.
With each breakup, I realized I made deals with myself and those I dated that my heart simply couldn’t take. I wasn’t listening, yet I thought I was. I crumbled with each and every breakup until I woke up one day, hopeless. And I realized that if I continue to be cruel to my heart, I will attract others who will be cruel to it too.
I’m still unsure if I have the wherewithal to participate in the tumultuous game of love. But my heart asks that I move forward despite myself.
The only thing I know for sure is the first step. We should all take the time to truly listen and be kind to the vulnerabilities of our hearts. In this process, we should acknowledge our fears and call them out as they show up, but move from a place of love and courage. It may just be that in learning to give ourselves the love we desire in the deepest sensitivities of our hearts that we can become the love we so desperately seek from another.
Moving into this space could allow us to attract the greatest love of all.
Author: Heather Dawn
A version of this blog originally appeared in Heather Dawn's column on Elephantjournal.com