I’ve been thinking a lot about love over this past year. Not just because Friday is Valentine’s Day, but because I feel like I am just really beginning to understand the power of love.
I am incredibly lucky. I grew up loved; I never doubted then, nor do I now, that my parents love me. I knew my grandparents all loved me, my aunts and uncles, close family friends, and even my brothers (in their own ‘punch in the arm instead of a hug’ way). Only now as an adult am I recognizing the gift that kind of unconditional love is.
I have amazing friends who love me and whom I love in return. I have been blessed by romantic love in my life – even if there was hurt along the way, there was also love. I am married to my best friend who has shown me more about the truth about love than I thought possible.
I say all this because I want you to know that it’s not like I am discovering love for the first time just now – I am just seeing it differently.
I’ve never been much of a crier. My natural reaction to being upset (usually) is anger. I get mad, then sad, then mad again. That can all happen quite rapidly, but my first reaction isn’t to burst into tears. I might cry – but most likely I’ll be telling you to “Fuck off” in my head at the same time. I would often try to hide or stop myself from crying – from feeling what was making me cry.
When I was pregnant with our first child I remember reading that my emotions would be all over the place. “Watch out! You’ll be crying over phone commercials!”
So I would sit watching TV, just waiting for it. Sometimes I would tear up, but other times I would be thinking “Shouldn’t this be making me upset?” One time I was actually relieved when I started to cry at the TV – like it was an indicator of a healthy, normal pregnancy.
Well, that’s not how it is anymore. I don’t know exactly when, but I have turned into a major blubberer. I swear that just before I started writing this post I started to tear up at DANIEL TIGER. At first this tendency concerned me; should I talk to someone about this? Is this normal? Why am I feeling this way?
Eventually I realized that the reason I am becoming more emotional is because I am simply feeling more emotions. Somewhere along the way my heart opened up and it started letting more in. I wasn’t hiding all the soft spots anymore, in hopes that they wouldn’t be bruised.
I heard this on Ellen one day:
“When your heart is broken – when you have cracks in your heart – it lets the light in. It lets the sun in.”
There are a thousand different ways, big and small, that your heart can be broken each day. Sometimes those things make just a tiny crack, others can split you apart. I think when we acknowledge those cracks and own up to the things that hurt us – that’s when we really see love.
I am more truthful to my heart – my whole self – when I am honest about what hurts. When I do that, what happens isn’t that my heart gets bruised – what happens is that the true love that I have and feel gets stronger. Often it isn’t easy, and the deepest cuts and biggest cracks take the longest to heal, but they can also lead us to the brightest spots of light.
This feeling – it’s stronger than empathy. It’s what you feel when you don’t hide from the fear and sadness that grips you when you hear about a child being hurt, or being sick. When I am honest about that flash of terror instead of hiding behind the comfort of ‘that will never happen to my child’, my heart becomes stronger because I am being completely open about how much I love and adore my children. That in turn helps me make the best (and often the toughest) choices as a parent.
When something gets to me now, I actually welcome it. That doesn’t mean that I sit on the floor and cry regardless of the situation. I just take a second to acknowledge the feeling and recognize that this is my heart’s way of affirming the love and care that I have for someone or something. I am so grateful to be able to feel that way.
It’s funny that the idea of crying, or even just acknowledging that kind of passion for anything, can be seen as a weakness. Now I think that softness can only make you stronger.
Imagine if we all were able to live our lives with the knowledge and acceptance of what was truly important to us, and if we were able to let go of the things that aren’t. Imagine all the time we could get back and all the stress we could lose. What a guide to have! Not only could we live more honestly, but with more care and empathy as well.
There are numerous studies and anecdotal stories that show that in the end
love is the most important thing.
I’m not all the way there – and I might never be, because being a parent and a decent human being is hard sometimes – but I’m going to keep trying my best. These days I feel that once you start opening up your own heart, the more love you will see and feel in the world – everyday.