“I feel like it’s never wrong to have cared too much” said Carmen, in all of her cool and calm wisdom, after being on the receiving end of a long, rolling rant about my newfound mission to give up on finding love. I had, just the night before, opened my heart to someone and was met with a less than desirable response. A situation that, to my growing displeasure, I was becoming all too familiar with.
Heartbreak- a feeling that is somehow both unique and universal. In every iteration it feels like a distinct flavor of emotion that can only have ever have been felt by you and you alone. And yet, simultaneously, it is a singular thread that has woven it’s way through every soul on earth. Everyone has a scar or two to bear from it’s persistent path through the human condition.
I have always been, first and foremost, an emotional being. I am built up by the strings of feelings that extend from me to others. They are the tides that push and pull me as though I am a puppet- intrinsically controlled by the love I tie to the people in my life. At many points over the years (including the previously mentioned, exasperated rant to Carmen) I have looked at this as my personal, fatal flaw. My Achilles heal. A naive way in which I interact with the world that leaves me susceptible to being taken advantage of and looking foolish.
In the wake of a beaten and bruised heart, I look to this flaw of mine to blame. There you go Chelsie- loving too hard, caring too much, being over invested. Silly girl. Your bleeding heart got ahead of itself again. I feel the dull and ever present pain of my battered heart and try, once more, to wish away my ability to hold onto such vast amounts of emotion all at once. At this point in the darkness, my beautiful beams of light I call my friends step in.
I am reminded by these beautiful beings that what I have characterized as an embarrassing attribute is actually a unique strength to be proud of. I should wear my open and deep heart as a badge of honor, not as a cross to bear. They remind me that I have always lead with my heart and, despite my current attitude, that is a worthwhile pursuit. And while it is wonderful to feel love on such deep and wide scales, it also means I feel the absence of it in the same capacity and I should not shy away from either side of the scale. There is a huge strength and power in having loved fully and freely whether or not that love is returned. There is force and fortitude in a heart that takes on heartache. In the midst of my despondent attitude I had forgotten- there is heart in heartbreak.
As they bring my head back above the water to gulp a breath of fresh and warm air, I am reminded of one of my favorite poems by my all time favorite poet, Tyler Knott Gregson:
What a simple, revolutionary idea: we only have control over the love we give. And that love should be given freely and without conditions on others. This shift in the framework of my mind attached a buoy to my heart on the dark waters of heartbreak and helplessness. It gives me reason to smile, in spite of my disappointed heart. It reaffirms my over-zealous and impassioned existence and reminds me of how lucky I am to be surrounded by glittering threads of support and friendship that tie me to the best version of myself. They brighten up even the dimmest corners of my dark days and remind me to keep loving hard, consequences be damned.