The wall around your heart is not made of bricks or concrete or glass; it’s made of unshed, hardened tears, water that began soft and fluid then gathered together like guards when they were not allowed release.
Our hearts are born soft. We’re born to love: to give and receive without reservation or inhibition. We’re born to allow a trusted few into the deepest regions of psyche, to the places where imaginations roam freely in the forests and wild spaces. We invite them in, and if they don’t receive us as we need to be received, if they hurt us or come too close or leave when we need them most, the heart shuts down just a little.
If it happens again, if the children make fun of us and the grownups fail to protect us and we learn anything other than the truth – that we’re magnificent, worthy, intelligent, beautiful beings – the heart begins to seal shut.
If we had been guided to grieve and shed the tears that collected like a dam in the heart, we would have remained open. But we learned to be good and lie down in the fields and not complain about the shards of tears that pierced up through the earth like glass.
Until you meet the one who does not walk away, the one who loves you the way you’re meant to be loved and sees you the way you’re meant to be seen. The wall of unshed tears rises up even stronger then; it finds every reason in the world why you must not trust and must run away. It tries to convince you that you don’t really love him/her, that you’re settling, that you’re not attracted, that the sex isn’t hot enough, that she’s not intelligent enough or he’s not successful enough. Underneath all of these arguments is a well of pain, which, when left ignored, forms the wall of unshed tears.
Every time you cry, the wall softens. The old, hardened tears trickle down in puddles and leave the kingdom. The tears clear your eyes and you see the beauty of a being who sits before you, who has been waiting all along.
Every time you find the courage to say, “My wall is up,” the wall crumbles a bit. The wall cannot sustain the truth; it trembles in the presence of vulnerability.
Every time you take your partner’s hand and say, “Sit with me. Climb over the wall. Let’s sit inside it together,” the wall exposes its holes.
Perhaps, like deep soul healing, softening the wall is, as Jon Kabat-Zinn says of the practice of mindfulness, the work of a lifetime. Perhaps we can be soft with ourselves as much as with our partner as we recognize that the work isn’t about ripping down the wall like ripping off a bandaid but recognizing that the depth of the wall is the depth of the pain, and so we move slowly and with great gentleness and compassion. We seek not to indulge the wall and justify its presence; that only thickens its resolve. Rather, we notice it, name it, and move toward the practices that slowly erase it from its place around our hearts.
In my next round of Open Your Heart: A 30 day program to feel more love and attraction for your partner, I’ll be teaching you these practices. I’ll take you by the hand and guide you, day by day, with the gentleness and wisdom of one who has been there and slips back there still, toward the rippling, spiraling path of opening your heart so that you can reclaim your birthright of giving and receiving love with ease, joy, and freedom. You deserve it. Your partner deserves it. With focused attention and effective tools, you can create or rediscover the relationship of your dreams.