I’m learning something new. . . . and for lack of a better description, it is that living with an open heart has a “cost”.
I am beginning to realize that my experience of grieving Matt’s death, of being stripped down by that sadness until there was only gaping hollowness inside, has another truth to teach me. I now understand that the hollowness was necessary so that I could have the capacity to hold the magnitude of the sadness I felt. My inner life just wasn’t big enough for all that I had to feel. Now, in my intent to stay as open as possible, not to shut down, I am more or less defenseless against the sorrow I encounter in others. I take it in, deeply, unfiltered and whole. The “bigness” of my own sadness has opened me to the “bigness” of the sadness of others. I know it isn’t my responsibility to carry someone else’s sorrow “for them” – that isn’t even possible - , but still, I believe it helps when someone else can share that burden for a while – at least until our legs stop shaking and we can begin to breathe again.
The rest of the “cost” of being open is a new coping skill that I must develop. I need to become clear about when my capacity for carrying sorrow is full. If I feel impatient and have difficulty listening, I know that it is time for me to take care of replenishing my own reserves. I intentionally find a way to empty my time of commitments and fill it with all the things that ease my soul . . . beautiful music, being outside and paying special attention to what I’ve been given.When I do that, I feel myself soften inside, growing ready to open again to all that life brings, all that love offers, all that comes to rest deep inside as peace.