Updated: Dec 24, 2019
“Keep your heart open to that person”. This is a text message I got from a supportive sister on a day I needed all the encouragement I could get. That morning I made the conscious decision to reintroduce myself to someone, and do so with an open heart.
I have always decided to remain closed off. As mentioned previously, trauma causes one to create defense mechanisms that aren’t necessarily the healthiest, and they can often limit one’s ability to live fully. For me, one of those defense mechanisms was to never trust or enter a relationship with an open heart. And when I graduated high school I decided to distance myself from a large chunk of people who were once in my life due to wanting to focus on college and family. I also felt it would be a good time to protect my heart and move on from high school and therefore I really have not gained many close friends in college.
The years have passed and this year the growing pains set in. I realized the necessity of having an open heart. I have started to live my life; approaching every moment as an opportunity for growth and as an opportunity for wholeness and in doing so have decided that it was time to reintroduce myself. On my birthday I reintroduced myself on social media, and now I am trying to live in my new found truth through my actions. So I stepped into the unknown, (sidenote: sorry, I really enjoyed Frozen 2) and went to coffee with someone who used to be one of my closest friends in high school.
It had been three years since I last had a detailed conversation with this individual and I would say that I did not do a great job at distancing myself from this person. One day we were friends, and the next day I didn’t answer their texts. We both mutually decided that we were going to focus on school and professional life and we left it alone. And I think deep down I was bothered near the end of high school by all the traits we did not have in common, and all the expectations we were both competing to meet. The competition that is high school and college admissions is not conducive for young friendship, and therefore, after graduating, despite being close, I made sure to create the distance and say my own goodbye.
But recently, as I have become more and more open, I have started to reach out. I think that was the scariest part, was reaching out. Would someone I practically abandoned want to be friends with me again? Would I even like this person? Would we have resentment towards one another due to the lack of friendship over the past years? On the way there I almost talked myself out of it. I was nervous that it would be awkward, or that this would cause heartache. What if this person entered back into my life just to use me?
This is the rhetoric and cloudiness that trauma has the potential to cause. The feeling of never being good enough. The paranoia of thinking everyone who you let near to your heart has the intentions of hurting you. We all have those moments, but I never realized just how deep it was until that morning in the car. Until I realized it had become difficult to go to a simple coffee date with an old friend. I kept telling myself to remain open, and to allow this because it is apart of a journey of healing and finding wholeness. So I looked down at my phone and read that text again and again. “Keep your heart open to that person”
That day I met someone new. Of course, it was still my old friend but then again, it was a new person. Someone that has grown a lot themselves and who has come to their own personal realizations. After spending the morning lost in endless conversation that was so stimulating and wonderful we both quickly forgot the time that has passed. We both found that we have so much in common and we both agreed to hangout more while we were both on break. Am I still terrified? Yes. But, the necessity of an open heart is without a doubt one of the most important lessons I have learned in 2019. I have begun new relationships, and become apart of new organizations, and have done new things that would have never been possible without an open heart. Last year, if you had told me that I was going to go to coffee with this friend I would have not believed it, because I would not have allowed myself to be open and vulnerable to reintroducing someone once close to my heart, back into my life.
I know that I am always a work in progress, and therefore I am celebrating this step forward in letting go of the pain and weight of trauma. We will all at one point be used, or offended, or heartbroken, and we will all have to make difficult choices; deciding who is truly worth our energy and time. But we should not limit our capacity to approach someone or something with an open heart especially when we feel the urge or call to do so. Therefore, I encourage you to think of how you can further melt the ice that can prevent you from living openly, and imagine the possibilities for life and happiness when you do so. And do not forget, as my sister said, “Keep your heart open…”.
Song: This is Me by The Greatest Showman
I chose this song because after writing this post I broke into a dance to this song. Writing this blog has been one of the hardest things I have ever done. Choosing to accept myself, as I am, and discussing my weaknesses and flaws is scary and hard and it's reminded me so so much of this song.