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The Open Heart.

After a while you learn….. that love doesn’t mean leaning…and you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts.

Love isn’t falling in love neither is it about hormones or amazing sex.

But what is love? 

A few weeks ago I participated in a retreat that changed my life for good, that changed everything that I ever believed about love.

During this incredible intense week something happened with my heart. Maybe for the very first time it cracked wide open. The walls crashed – walls I built up to protect my heart from being hurt. With this wall my heart was never able to feel, to really fully feel deep love.

I felt so open and vulnerable that it hurt.

But I refused  to immediately close down again after coming home.

I was overwhelmed by feeling all this love and suddenly I was overwhelmed by all that pain.

Pain and self-hatred. Feelings of unworthiness and confusion. Because with an open heart not only could I feel love but all the other feelings I had stored deep down. Feelings and patterns of destructive denial. It was so overwhelming and frightening that I didn’t know what to do any more. Where were all the years of practice gone. I felt like all these years of exploring and learning and healing… just gone… nothing. 

It’s something we are taught from the very beginning that we have to become better, faster or smarter. That we are not good enough the way we are but if we try hard enough probably one day we’ll reach the promised land. We’ve learned that love means an exchange of goods and that we have to earn it. That it’s something from outside, not within and if we try hard enough we might be worth of being loved.

But most of us never learned the most essential lesson of all – that love is within us and in order to feel loved we have to learn to love ourselves first. Yeah I know, we heard that many times before *eyes rollin’* and we all tried in one way or the other… but IT’S THE ONLY WAY.

There are only two roads we can take –  love or fear. Every decision we take is made either out of love or out of fear.

Most of my decisions were made out of fear. From a lack of feeling loved, safe or free. Fear made me run – towards  something or away from something. But as Churchill already said ”the only way out is through”. We don’t get out of this battle by running or giving up. We get out of this by giving in, by letting go, but opening up and learning. If we take the time to become still and look within, we will quickly discover that under our anger, sadness or frustration there is fear, fear of not being enough or not getting enough – but then below all that is a place of vulnerability and strength both, where we can begin to learn our way out of the habitual patterns that have, temporarily, defeated our heart.

We fear to love with all our heart because we believe we loose something. We can’t see that what eventually could happen is that we free ourselves from old beliefs we carry around. It’s not love that limits us it’s all the side-contracts we make in order to be with someone. If we get hurt or disenchanted  we must find the courage to open up again. Life is short and  it is absolutely nothing without loving to our full potential. I know it can hurt and it’s scary to be open and vulnerable but I also know that love is what heals and gives us purpose on this planet. You may think you are here for many things but I promise you that love is always the thing that comes first. Have the courage to love again one more time and then one more and one more.

Life is tough stuff, and many times I fell over my fears – it was always love that brought me back.

A friend once told me ”don’t believe the lies that ‘what’s meant to be will be’ or that those ‘falling in love’ feelings will carry you through. Life is what you make it. Love is deliberate, intentional and purposeful. If you don’t nurture and accept each others brokenness you are missing out what love is all about – growth’‘.

When it comes to love for me this poem from Khalil Gibran pretty much says it all:

”…But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

So for the future let’s grow like oak trees and cypresses together but not in each others shadow, appreciating the unique way each of us is growing.