Recently I came across Andy Rooney’s I’ve Learned – The Art Of Happiness. 2 things really stood out to me (okay the whole thing stands out to me but due to a personal, internal struggle, 2 of them really jumped out at me).
“I’ve learned that…LOVE, not time heals all wounds.”
“I’ve learned that…under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.”
I’ve really been struggling lately regarding relationships and exactly what it is that I want in one. Friends with benefits works well in theory but there is no way that two people can spend time together as friends without some type of bond forming. We have control over our emotions to some degree, but I don’t believe that we can make ourselves love or not love someone else. Therefore we must chose wisely who we spend time with, flirt with, and share with knowing that the possibility is always there. How committed we are and how much we love someone has little bearing on what can happen with another that we get too close too. We can chose to walk away when we sense that feelings are developing but we cannot control the chemistry that happens between two people. Add sexual intimacy to the mix and I do not believe it will remain void of emotion.
I was never one to flirt around outside of my marriage beyond a surface level. I knew all too well that chemistry happens and when the right mix occurs between any man and woman, sparks can fly. I only flirted within safe boundaries, with those I didn’t feel a real attraction towards, that way I could keep it fun. Of course that too is playing with fire in that I had no way of knowing how the object of my attention might react. Attraction is often one sided. I also know that men rarely think with their hearts or their larger heads, so a little flirting can get a girl in a heap of trouble. Guys are weak, and thrive on female attention. Any female with half a brain picks up on this early in life and plays the flirt card to her advantage. It may get your tire changed on the road side, or free drinks all night at a bar. It is also a power game when you can persuade an otherwise faithful man to your bed for the night even though he may have a beautiful, adoring wife at home (trust me 26yrs ago I played this game). Men are just pigs enough that they never seem to catch on that they are being used by the flirty little tart as part of a game to make herself feel powerful. She might even play that game a long time before setting her prey free to face the consequences of his actions. For some such women it isn’t a win until he has left his wife and all that was important behind, only to be dumped soon after. Men are pigs, women are vicious she devils. Make no mistake about it.
Not all men are complete pigs and certainly not all women are demonic creatures, but we do carry those less desirable traits to our over all characters. For me, finding the man that was a more ‘cultured swine‘ was the goal in life. And for a long time I certainly believed I had found it. But even he fell victim too easily to the games of the more wicked of women now and then.
After such a long time and so much of me invested in my marriage, when the end came I encased my heart and determined I was NOT going to love anyone again. Friends with benefits was the answer to preventing pain from ever touching me. I honestly didn’t believe I could mentally stand that kind of hurt another time without landing in a padded cell wearing a straight jacket.
Enter Pixel Kitten. My sister’s birthday gift to me, an adorable, 5 week old, orphaned kitten that NEEDED someone to love her. I carried her around that first weekend from Friday afternoon until I had to leave for work on Monday morning, caring for her every need and doing something I didn’t even realize was happening….FEELING. My wounded, well protected heart was wrapping around this helpless little kitten that clung to me like I was her mama. She slept against my chest or my face, wasn’t happy unless she was being held, and began to breathe life back into my heart. In the first few weeks she gently helped my heart off of life support and out of ICU. I thought it was because time had passed since I found out my marriage was over, that I finally was HEALING. And then when I read the quote, “I’ve learned that…LOVE, not time heals all wounds.” I realized that in fact it was love the healed my heart. I poured all that pain into loving that little bundle and without even realizing it I was feeling again, thanks to my 4-legged heart band-aid. By allowing my heart to feel love again, it healed.
Even in my favorite movie, Always, the truth was right in front of me. It wasn’t until Dorinda allowed her heart to FEEL love again that she began to heal from the loss of Pete. The pain I carried wasn’t going to go away until I filled that void with love, first for Pixel, and now who knows, but loving is the healing balm on the wounds of my heart, no doubt about it.
All this time I had thought I would do better to NOT feel love again, that I’d heal from my wounds and move past the pain by shutting out any and all emotional involvement with anyone. And in my friends with benefits style relationships, it almost works. Except that in order to NOT feel for these so called friends, the only communication that could pass between us would be arranging for the hook up and the sex itself. No pillow talk, no sharing, just the sex and be gone. How cold. I’m not that type, I’m not inflatable. No that is not at all what I want, but in order to be truly friends with anyone there is sharing which leads to caring, which leaves the heart vulnerable. So the question is how far can I safely let down my protective walls around my heart? “I’ve learned that…under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.” And this IS true, deep inside of every human is the basic need to be loved and with that love appreciated. But it means allowing someone to get inside the barriers we build when we’ve been hurt. Sometimes it is circumstances, life, fate, or people, but the pain inflicted is real and the protective walls mean to shield from future suffering. But without love we do not heal those wounds, they simply fester beneath the surface making us unable to trust or exist beyond our self imposed exile. We move about as an island in the world not allowing anyone close to us. This is NOT living, this is existing.
I know that I do not want to merely exist in this life, moving through it watching others but never letting anyone get close to me. Trusting someone to hold my heart means yes, I will hurt again, yes I will cry again, but it means I WILL be able to love again. And love will heal the past hurts. Not everyone I share my heart with is going to purposely hurt me, some will be unintentional. The one I chose to give it wholly to in the future will hurt me at times, it goes with being in a relationship. But that same person, can love the pain away and heal whatever harm is done. It will mean being willing to be vulnerable, and take a chance on LIVING again, not just going through the motions. Taking down the wall a brick at a time, and taking baby steps forward.
I want to walk the sandy beaches of life in a relationship again, allowing the waters of love to wash over me, feel the sun, breezes, and sometimes the necessary storms of emotions that come with opening up my heart again. I want to LIVE life.