My Heart

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“I woke up in a safe house” 

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” 

“This. And, I’m surviving, so, I guess, I can.” 

To find a home in the middle of chaos is the definition of refuge. The month of March has been one of intentional joy and when I lept into it, I didn’t realize that by joy would need to exist the word “safe.” After a tumultuous few weeks, I needed to slouch into joy by way of a safe home. The home started with my body. I learned it in and out and with each bit of it that I acknowledged I let the tension release. 

Eventually it moved from my body to where I placed my body. The brick-by-brick safe house that gave the body a home to rest in. Who I let it rest beside. To whom I extended invitations to help me keep it safe. 

After the anxiety in my stomach settled and the presence of food no longer felt like a foreign intrusion, I came back to my heart. The essence of who I am. This morning a friend texted me “You are love.” Not wrong, not wrong. 

I tip-toed and circled around my heart, analyzing the damage done, the way a mechanic checks a car before giving an estimate. 

“$400 to replace this part. $75 for this knick. The total is going to really make a dent on your bank account.” 

All I was focused on were the dents in the heart. My heart. To give it a safe home, a new home, I needed to be able to actually stare at it. I had to stop ignoring that the damage was done by hands that knew every inch of me, inside and out. More than that I had to embody a new mantra - to love is to hurt is to give yourself permission to both survive hurt and love. 

We can’t do one without the other. For all the friends who have stacked sentence after sentence on the other side of the phone about how love is constrained, I ask, really? How? What parts are constrained? Better question, how can you actually hold back when in love? 

Love is a tornado. When you’re in the eye of it you don’t feel anything, it’s when it stops spinning that you see all its left in its path. Except, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I see houses torn down, but they are houses that shouldn’t have been standing in the first place. Together we intentionally knocked down the worst parts of my childhood, the parts that I shouldn’t have been attached to anyway. Together, with the eye of a tornado, I cleared so much ground for true beauty and anchored self-worth. 

The ground is where I’m setting new roots for the woman I’m becoming.

The safe house? It’s getting built on that ground. The "safe" part comes from the side of love that is more relaxing nap than tornado. You ease into a good nap on the couch because you know someone will cover you up with the softest blanket available if you fall asleep mid-show. It's trust, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to exist. It's love. 

I stare at my heart. It hurts to look at it but it’s because it’s been through a war and survived still in one piece. How beautiful that for all the fear that sits in my stomach about loving, my heart just keeps beating, never stopping, always challenging me to show up as I am. 

For a long time I didn’t answer its call. I hid behind bravado and a brave face and the belief that everything from grief to my father not being around didn’t really affect me. Except, to know someone’s name and not their person does do a number on you. It makes you fear for future names you know and people you may one day not recognize.  The season started with “New Year’s Day”, a shared breaking of what was and what needed to come from it. Three squeezes. Glitter on the floor. My heart with dents. 

I don’t think I need to repair my heart, to paint over the nicks, to replace the bumper, in order to have it be embraced. I like that one look shows you that it’s been used often and in real ways. I just needed to stare at it for a bit to remember that.