I love with my whole heart

The past few years I have taken the opportunity to step back and try to understand life. I feel like I was given a break to stop, back up and look around. I questioned, “Why do people do the things they do? Why do I do the things I do?” I had to understand what was going on in my life before I could talk about it and live again. I have read many books, studied psychology, talked to counselors of all kinds, talked to my husband for HOURS each day, sat and thought, prayed and meditated, and much more to help me process all of this.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but years ago I was becoming numb. As I think about it, it started about 20 years ago. I started to realize the expectations I had hoped for in life were probably not going to come about. I am not sure where these expectations come from… hoping you will live happily ever after. I was hoping for the fantasy world I thought was the real world or maybe it was the fairy tale ending I was waiting for? Growing up I hadn’t seen a relationship that was bad- my parents seemed happy and all other marriages around me looked that way. I know it probably wasn’t as blissful as others made it look, but I had to wonder because my relationship with my husband wasn’t perfect. I was extremely committed to him, but my heart didn’t feel right.

So what does your heart do when it’s getting hurt? Just as anything would, put armor around it to protect it.

I didn’t put armor over my heart knowingly, but year after year I was getting better at not feeling. I was thinking if I can’t feel, I can’t be hurt. I was becoming numb.

I tried to tell myself I was content and that’s why I didn’t feel. My husband called me his rock. His daily emotions were up and down, so I was steady, unwavering. I liked being a rock– nothing bothered me or stung. Nothing could bring me down, but now as I look back, nothing could bring me up either.I couldn’t feel pain and I couldn’t feel joy. I found myself in what I call survival mode. A very dangerous place to be. I figured out it was easier to live disappointed than to be disappointed.

I have inborn optimism so this was not me. I never realized how far away I was from the real me and feeling emotions until a friend asked me in the year 2000 when I had cried last. I thought that was a weird question, but she told me that months after she had triplets her doctor had asked her the same thing. One piece of information to tell you is I used to cry over a furniture commercial. So when I answered, “Not this year”, it hit me– I was past feeling. Wow- really?!

As I am processing this information now, I wonder why does a person go numb? Protection of course. I also was thinking “If anything bad happens, I will be used to feeling nothing and it won’t hurt! I am a machine, a robot and nothing can penetrate through my tough outer shell.”

Deep down I was thinking “If I can’t feel, I can’t be hurt”. Was I right?

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons we don’t expect to learn. So if I thought this armor was going to be there for protection against the most devastating thing- I was wrong. My husband passed away. Was I saved by this armor or wall I had built up around me? NO! This armor fell by the wayside and I hurt. I hurt so much I couldn’t breathe. It was a serious physical pain in my heart that couldn’t be lifted.

Today I made a promise to myself that I will never let myself feel numb again. It has taken six years to get to this point and where I feel safe, but now I am living with my heart wide open. Yes, I hurt over little things, but I also feel the greatest joy over little things.

Hard things will happen. Planning for these things will not change them and they won’t hurt any less. I have survived a severe loss and have lots of trauma from this, but that is what makes me find joy in the little things. I have learned not to take anything for granted. Death has brought me the clarity to see what is really important and to live and love with my whole heart.

I love with my whole heart.

Love with your whole heart