Monday, November 14, 2011

The Gift of One's Heart

I'm learning a lot about myself lately, and my heart. For many years I tightly guarded my heart after others disappointed, abandoned and/or simply abused it. Over the last few years, I've found the courage to open my heart again, risking it despite the heartache of the past. In opening my heart, I was able to release heartache, through the process of healing and forgiveness, of both myself and others. I spent a lot of time on the initial clean up of an emotional mess left unattended for many years. Now, regular maintenance is required, on an “as needed” basis. Over the last few months, life has required me to do some deeper cleaning and clearing.

Through this latest process, I realize I share my heart freely, authentically; I hold nothing back. I open it to most people, and I've learned to trust my intuitive guidance when discretion is necessary. I also realize giving my heart to others still involves risking its exposure to bitterness stemming from the recipient's own low self esteem or shame. I risk being taken advantage of by those with self-serving agendas. I also risk my heart being accepted, then left hanging out to dry, unattended and alone. Opening one's heart involves a great deal of risk. Having kept my heart behind a steel wall for many years, there are days I question my decision to open it up to others.

My heart is full of love, and it aches to share the overflow of love within it. When shared, my heart is not always warmly received, appreciated, or even accepted. My heart extends love to my closest friends who recognize, honor and reciprocate the precious gift of love and the courage it took for me to share my heart fully with them. I extend my heart to my family who, like most typical families, take it for granted, except my mother who always let me know how much she appreciated and valued my expressions of love. Over the years, I've offered my heart to many men who: abused and battered out of their own sense of unworthiness; was blinded by fear of its loving light; took for granted my heart's selfless devotion of its love; simply didn't want, or know how or what to do with it, and/or mismanaged it. I offer my heart to strangers, people in need, students, and clients. I offer my heart through my writing.

Whenever someone demonstrates a lack of appreciation, respect or care towards my offering, I continue to re-serve him or her my heart again, and again, and again, to a point where its is left bruised, exhausted, and in pain. Perhaps I'm making up for time lost when I withheld my heart from the world; or maybe I'm avoiding rejection, which would imply then, I believe its my loss if someone does not accept with appreciation my heart. I'm realizing in this latter possibility, “no,” that's not true.

Upon one's rejection of my heart, despite my countless attempts to offer it, my heart and I retreat and engage in an inner debate about returning to the steel prison from which it came. With each person's refusal, I'm recognizing my pattern of subjecting myself to continuous rejection with each attempt to give my heart away. Continuously subjugating oneself to another's rejection is an acceptance in belief one is unworthy of something better. Perhaps, maybe, I need to offer my heart in the same fashion they offer the finality of sales at auctions: “Going once, going twice, gone......!”

I believe in people, often times more than they believe in themselves, and their potential to receive and generously give love from their own heart. Many beautiful people I've met just once in my life, and many who have remained an integral part of my life, have shared their hearts freely, and together, we created a beautiful heart connection, loving unconditionally, believing in each other. In my family life, I unconditionally love but without sacrificing my heart for acceptance. In my friendships, I hold close to me those who value my heart, and release with blessings of love from afar those who take it for granted.

And in my romantic life, I'm learning my heart deserves, at minimum, its equal in willingness, respect, and appreciation of its expression of love and care for another, and nothing less. I'm beginning to understand for me to tolerate anything less is simply me not loving and valuing myself and my heart. And if this is the case, how can I possibly expect another to love and value my heart and its generosity?