When Clint and I first started dating, we didn’t see eye to eye on some of our personality traits that were, shall we say, not in alignment with each other. I used to get so frustrated with him when he kept people at arms length or questioned the motives of people until he really got to know them. It made me crazy! I thought he was missing out on so much by holding back any part of himself. He tried to convince me not to wear my heart on my sleeve. He said I gave my heart out so easily and willingly when I became friends with someone. One thing he worried about was how it would get me hurt. But the thing was, I couldn’t imagine not going all in when it came to relationships.
With me, it’s all or nothing. If I let you in, I let you all the way into my heart. I’d give you the shirt off my back. I’d move heaven and earth to help you. I would drop everything to be with you if you called me & needed me. I don’t know how to do half-ass friendships. For me? I’m all in. I love that about myself.
There is no shelf life on being a part of my heart, either. If you were ever let in, you still have a portion of it. Oh, you may be way in the back corner in the nosebleed section, but you still have your spot. I don’t kick people out.
But what about when someone breaks your heart, tears you down or shatters your friendship or relationship, Jenn?
I’m glad you asked. You see, if you were ever let in, there was something there. There was something about you that drew me to you and that I honestly and truly cared about and therefore, that part lives on in my heart. Here are two examples:
Scenario One: A year or so ago I reconnected with an old friend of mine. We were best friends in elementary school and most of junior high and then it it was all shot to hell (as many junior high friendships can go.) At first we shared animosity, then dislike, then we just didn’t simply register on each other’s radar. It was a shock when we ran into each other our freshman year of college. We had no idea we were attending the same university. We didn’t run in the same circles but when we saw each other we would smile and say hi. When we found each other after our 20 year reunion, we shared those first “this is what has been going on in my life” emails. As I sat and read hers and read of a tragedy she lived through, I sat there and cried for my old friend. It wasn’t that “enemy” in junior high or that girl I’d share a casual wave as we passed. This was that young girl that was my best friend who had an earth shattering event change her life. And I cried for her and her family. She never left my heart.
Even today, if she emailed me and needed something, I wouldn’t have to consult a calendar to see how long it’s been as to whether or not I would be there for her. There is no question. I’d be there. I was all in when we were friends. Her spot in my heart was behind a wall, in the dark with dust on it since it had been so long, but it was there, dusted off and it was there for her if she needed it.
Scenario Two: As an adult I had a circle of friends who got together and did casual things with when we could schedule them. At first I was a bit wary and kept them at arms length but I just am not really great at that. So, of course, I let them in and my heart was all in. I would give my shirt off my back for them. I knew it was a risk to jump into an established circle of friends but they seemed open and I let my heart go. And it did get hurt. Shattered. It’s not a decades old pain like with my other friend. It is much fresher. I went all in and my heart was broken. In fact, I am willing to bet that if I was standing beside a couple of them and was on fire, they probably wouldn’t even spit on me to put the fire out. So that must mean that they are out of my heart. Shut down. Never allowed in again. I wish. Like I said, once you have a spot in my heart, I don’t shove you out. Granted, it may be a corner in my heart that I have well guarded with pit bulls and armed guards, but that corner is there. And even if they needed something tomorrow, even the one who openly and vocally hates me, I would be there. It just is what it is.
I guess my heart is a bit like Hotel California. “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” But not in that scary stalker way. Really. You actually can leave but I will never personally kick you out. It’s now how I’m made. It’s who I am.
That is something that, though it gets me hurt, I do love about myself.
It’s my ability to love people with all of my heart and keep a part of them with me long after they have left my life. And be able to open it again if they come back into my life. And that? That is the greatest gift I could give myself because with the Interwebs like they are these days, you never know when someone from your past might show up. I’m blessed that when I reconnect with old friends, there is nothing ugly or negative to hold me back in getting to know them as they are now. It’s just a part of my heart I get to dust off and revisit. To me? That is a blessing and something I truly do love about myself.