Heart series #2: Wounded hearts

This post is #2 in the blog series: Heart. See the series overview page for a list of all posts.

"Estrangement of the Heart" by qthomasbower, 400x400
“Estrangement of the Heart” by qthomasbower | CC BY-SA 2.0.

We all walk around with wounded hearts. That’s because we are all human. We all have had childhoods. We all have experience dealing with life. Like it or not, our hearts get broken. What do we do? We protect our hearts, close them down. This limits our human potential. Every day we unconsciously recoil from our wounded hearts. As an example, I’m sharing a recent personal experience taken from my journal.

I’m tired of an inner pressure that I don’t understand. I keep feeling an urge to be doing, doing, doing. I should be working on my courses, blogs, or meditating, walking, emailing, journaling, doing something useful. I’m sick of this pressure. I’m going to sit down and take a look at what’s underneath. First, where do I feel this pressure in my body? Seems like it’s in my throat and my gut. Seems stronger in my throat, so I’ll look there. Whoa, there is a gummed-up ball of goo. Uck. Sticky and old, my nose is crinkling in disgust. What’s going on here? I don’t like this. I want it to disappear. Well, I’m going to suck it up. I’m going to sit down and take a look. Following my practice, I’m going to welcome the feeling instead. Here goes nothing. A dialogue begins between me (M) and the Sticky Ball (SB) that I discovered inside of me:

Wounded heart dialogue

Me: Hi, welcome Sticky Ball. I don’t think I’ve seen you before. I’m wondering why you are here.

Sticky Ball (SB): I’m surprised you invited me in. You usually just roll right over me and get totally engaged in your work. I’m thankful to even see the light of day! I’m presenting in your throat because I would like to speak; that is if you will take the time to listen.

Me: I’m sorry. I never really realized this part of me existed. And yes, I’d like to get to know you, to hear what you have to say.

SB: I’m not quite sure I believe you, but I’ll give it a stab. I feel overlooked, neglected. You don’t stop long enough to listen, and I’ve been around since you were a kid. I’m getting worn out.

Me: Suddenly, I hear my mother’s voice, “Hurry up. Hurry up. We’ll be late. I don’t like it when people are late. It’s rude and selfish.” Wow, I’m about three years old and right now stopped in my tracks. I was having so much fun just daydreaming and now my arm is being tugged into my blue snowsuit. I feel rushed, violated somehow. I have no control. I’m at the mercy of big people. Better to just go off by myself, be invisible, alone, out of trouble. Yeah, that’s best. I hate listening to my mother and father bickering all the time. I’m gonna hide.”

SB: That’s well and good, but what about all the other parts of you that shut off. It breaks my heart to see how you hole yourself up. You wall your heart off, retreat. You are a good person. You have a kind heart. You have the right to your whole self. So, open up already!”

Me: That sounds a bit scary. I think I’d rather have a sticky ball then go into the fear.

SB: Grow up. Get over your kid defense. Remember what Karla McLaren says about emotions. (See her book.)

Me: OK, I’ll go get the book. She says (page 235) that fear is the language of “intuition and action. It includes anxiety, worry and the healing of trauma.” (Oh God, not more trauma!) She also writes that fear bring gifts of “intuition, focus, clarity attentiveness, readiness, and vigor. Fear hones your senses, alerts your innate survival skill, and increases your ability to respond effectively to novel or changing environments.”

And I must admit, that discovering a sticky ball inside my throat is novel.

SB: You bet, sister. And now read about her practice for fear.

Me: She writes, “Focus your attention on your fears. Move consciously and revitalize your psyche with the dynamic focus fear brings you.” Well, I must admit Sticky Ball, you’ve got my attention.

SB: Yea! That’s what I wanted, just like you wanted from your parents when you were a kid; but they didn’t seem interested in paying attention, so you bound yourself up and forged ahead by yourself, leaving your heart behind.

Me: I’m actually beginning to like you, Sticky Bal. You are teaching me a lot. Wait a minute, where did you go? My throat is clear. I realize I need to take some time for myself without pressure. I need to pay attention to my body. I need to listen to what the different parts of me say. Thanks sticky ball.

Note: The next morning I did nothing but work on a jigsaw puzzle all morning. It felt great.