Back in 2015 I wrote a blog post entitled Brokenhearted and Better For It. That year and the few years leading up to it were some of the most transformative of my life (second only to the experience of becoming a mother). The most important aspect of that transformation?
I took down the walls of protection I’d spent a lifetime building around my heart.
Seven years later, my heart is still wide open. No walls of certainty. No fortress of perfectionism or avoidance. No stockpiles of judgment at the ready, just in case.
Sure, those old self-protective strategies still present themselves from time to time, but they feel foreign and undesirably heavy now. They no longer serve me because they block my access to my heart, which means access to my inner guidance system, my most trusted, tender teacher, my access point to The Sacred Mother (the God/Goddess of my imagination), my source of joy and compassion, and my inner counsel (which is made up of my inner 9-year old, my inner 17-year old, and my inner 80-year old).
Ain’t no way I’m blocking access for myself to that much collective goodness.
But/and, walking through this world with a wide open heart is no joke.
I have other coping and protective strategies such as boundary setting, letting many of my relationships change form and/or fall away, regular rest and nature connection, humility, self-compassion, and the courageous, clunky development of parts of myself that would prefer to stay small and hidden away out of fear and shame.
It also requires that I intentionally and frequently contemplate openheartedness, reminding myself of why I’ve chosen this path and how I can care for myself in the face of so much injustice, cruelty and oppression; in the face of our critically wounded world.
So, here’s a list that I need to make for my own tender self right now. Hopefully it’ll be a salve for some of you, as well.
Reminders for the openhearted:
For those of you still holding walls of protection in place but tired of the work this requires (and the way it limits your joy), I offer you this, which I wrote seven years ago, freshly brokenhearted:
A strong heart is a very different thing than strong walls surrounding your heart. The only way to gain heart strength is by allowing it to expand and contract like any other muscle. Keeping it walled and leaning on your walls for strength is like depending on an arm cast for protection long after it’s needed for support in healing. Once it’s served its purpose, it must be removed and the arm rehabbed or the muscles will begin to atrophy.
In a culture that praises logic and intellect while distorting, downplaying, and discrediting emotions, the work of listening to and honoring the heart is that much more challenging, important, and revolutionary.
It’s an act of rebellion and essential to our activism.
Big love from my tender heart to yours,