Guys, get ready to dig deep. I’m not going to distract you with another blog about my dog – we’re going to talk about my feeeeelings.
C.S. Lewis said a thing. And he said it far better than I ever could:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I meant this to be a blog about how heartache is the yin to the universal yang of love. However, in the last couple days, as I’ve kicked it around my chest its emerged looking like something different. While I do feel like I am at a place where the heart-casket seems like the best option, I realize that isn’t who I am. Is it exhausting and painful? Oh.yeah. But it has never occurred to me to be any other way. Romantic relationships, in my life, have been like a game of musical chairs and for all my efforts, the music has stopped and the chairs are full.
Let me take a short detour here – and stay with me – I promise it’s all going somewhere.
I was listening to a podcast today that got me thinking. The subject was ‘what do you wish your grown-ups said to you when you were a kid?’ Essentially, what troubles you now that might have been saved with words back then? You guys know, cause I’ve told you plenty of times, that my grown-ups are amazing. In fact, my mom is always asking me if she did something to mess me up (she probably will after reading this) and the answer is always “no”. So I asked my people two questions: 1.) how they would describe me as a kid and 2.) what the challenges were in raising me as a consequence. They did not even skip a beat before telling me how perfect I was (my dad actually used the word angelic) and what a joy it is to have raised me. Now, it’s not quite what I was looking for but it’s endearing that even given the opportunity, their only truth is kindness.
I know what they said is not entirely true. I was a sensitive child. Embarrassingly sensitive. Exhaustingly sensitive. I worried about death all the time. I worried about war and starving children and abandoned animals. My mom said I worried about the seals turning brown (did I read that somewhere?) and the polar bears not having enough to eat. What she said next is what changed the course of this blog post. She said: “you told me you loved me every five minutes. You would stop what you were doing and come to the window and through the screen you would say “love you mom”.” Now that can’t have been easy. I was an insecure little thing and I didn’t have the words to understand my emotions which is how I ended up having my feelings hurt very easily. What I took from that though, is from the time I was young, I was never afraid to put my heart out there. In fact, I was constantly giving it away. I even used my love for others as a way to fill them up on the off-chance they were empty.
That explains.so.much. about who I am today and how I navigate the world. My default setting is and always has been heart-forward. It’s my gift as well as my detriment.
See? Brought back around, as promised.
I’m not going end this on optimism because that’s not what I feel. I’m accepting that it’s okay. So often I try to push through the bad stuff and pretend like it’s all okay; put on a good face. I’m learning that sometimes it’s okay to just spend time in the heaviness. So I’m giving myself permission to do that for a bit.
**Edited for clarity: I’m worried I haven’t done a good job communicating here. I’m not waiting around, as I have done, for *someone* to come along and validate the gifts I’ve possessed since I was a little Ryan. I realize there’s a very real chance that may not happen, and that’s okay (honest). I can still be me without that. I wanted to say that I love, I have always loved, I will always love. While I’m giving myself room to be “not okay” in this season of being, I will recharge and keep doing what I do. It may just look different than I thought and that’s okay.