#reverb14: my heart is a cup

Heart. Show us your heart.  Let it all hang out. When have you thrown yourself into a challenge or shown/received love?

It is no secret that I do not let people close to me. It is a habit that in the last 5 years or so, I have tried to break. As an extrovert, it might seem strange that I keep people at an arm's length because I do enjoy being around people, hearing their stories and also sharing mine, but in the past, I was careful about the circle of people I let into my heart. It did not prevent me from getting hurt, though I thought that keeping people at bay was ensuring my heart's safety. It wasn't. Instead it meant when I hurt, I hurt deeply. 

Until I met M, my heart was shielded in an icy, "i could give a f*ck" demeanor, and a cavalier confidence meant to hide my insecurity. I soon learned that I cared deeply, often too deeply about people I loved with no mechanism for sorting out what happened when they broke my heart. Because they did. 

We always do. Because we don't think before words tumble out of our mouths, because we believe we are right and if we do something for the right reasons, things work out. Except the world doesn't really work that way and we're all a big, mess of human emotions and experiences. We can't live in one another's headspaces (thank goodness) and so we can never be sure our intentions and our actions are met the way we hope. 

What I was truly afraid of was losing people, having those I cared about drop out of my life or grow angry with me. I was a captive to that fear, which meant that I would do anything for the people with whom I spent my time, and because that number was small, the pressures I felt to deliver on my promises with them was immense and in many ways, terribly unhealthy. 

Falling in love with M was devastating to my heart because everything I thought I knew was called into question; it was also freeing. She somehow found her way through my defenses. I was intrigued by her instantly. Never had I heard anyone talk the way she did. So upfront about herself, so willing to be silly and foolish. I said, "I love you" much too quickly, probably and having someone know how you feel when you're still figuring out what it means is terrifying, particularly if you are not always so forthcoming. I found that I had to rebuild what I thought I knew about love, about soulmates and connections, vulnerability and strength.

There is a look she gets, one I cannot explain but it makes my heart beat double time. It is the look that first made me want to tell her all the secrets I ever knew, ones I didn't not even know were secret. There is no comfort like her hands in mine or her voice in my ear. 

I recently joked about being a project to her, but in our ten years together, we have really been the project, our relationship, our friendship, our connection. Loving her is easy, it's everything else that is hard, that is the work of our hearts and our minds and our voices. 

There's much I could say about how my heart has changed over the past ten years, how it has broken and expanded and felt more deeply than I thought possible. I have always been particularly sensitive and emotional, I just spent a long time fighting and covering, barricading it or saving it for my writing. My relationship with M gives me the confidence to let go, to be seen, to be open-hearted. Her influence has led me to deepening my other relationships with friends and family. 

I try every day to be expressive from my heart, to show gratitude for what is around me. I love this print of a Ray Bradbury quote from Western New York Book Arts Center. If I could say anything about my heart, about myself is that I strive for it to run over and let something beautiful and true out for others to see.