What does it mean to live heart to heart in a shielded world? What does it matter?
Today I passed the television as it played to an empty room. Katie Couric’s show was on, a first for me. She interviewed teens who nearly lost their lives from designer drugs. A young man explained how he got into Molly (ecstasy, MDMA, reportedly in its purest form) and began selling it to support his habit: when he tried it, it made him “feel like telling all his secrets” to someone, and in less than hour with someone he felt a close bond, like he’d known them forever. Wow. Sounds like the drug intensified then satisfied a craving he didn’t even know he had–a craving for intimacy, a craving for authenticity, a craving for feeling open and close to another human being. It’s too bad he needed a drug to give him that, since the side effects are so disastrous.
Living heart to heart is perhaps a bit like Molly, except it is real, throughout, and there are no significant negative side-effects. Living heart to heart is practicing honest, transparent, close and intimate relationships. Living heart to heart is an art, creatively risking authenticity, owning one’s own issues responsibly, and imbuing value to others. On top of that, it really feels good! Living heart to heart in healthy relationships is deeply fulfilling, abiding and sustaining; more so than a drug could ever be. Unlike living with Molly, when living heart to heart there is no need to worry about those nasty side effects–the resultant broken conscience, costly addiction, crash time, headaches, brain damage, psychosis, stealing or dealing, jail time, ruined relationships, wasted life, death.
Living heart to heart, as good as it is, is difficult–perhaps because we live in a shielded world. Imagine two intimacy-hungry souls, longing for deep and abiding, respectful relationships. Now imagine them both hiding behind full metal armour, holding up shields as they peer around corners in search of this love. Not too likely they’ll find love this way, is it? As counter-intuitive as it seems, we hide behind protective armour. We do it in countless ways. Perhaps we blame others, present an angry front, gossip, or avoid social situations. Some hide behind joking, focusing on sports or even helping others. We learn our defensive mechanisms early in life. From early childhood we are socialized to inhibit our true feelings and behave in an acceptable manner. We learn to say “yes ma’am” when we really think ‘no!’ We learn to smile when we feel like crying. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating the whole ‘do what you feel’ thing! What chaos that would bring! In learning to live in this world, we’ve had to find ways to get along. We’ve learned that people, in general, are faulty. They tell our secrets. They talk about us behind our backs. Some intentionally use us, pretending to be our friends and then taking advantage of our trust to get something for themselves at our expense. Some are just plain evil, stealing children, killing for your wallet, and such. So we really have to find ways to protect ourselves. In so doing, we’ve developed facades and shields.
It takes a great deal of fortitude to drop our shields and risk living heart to heart. There’s no rule that says we must do so. It matters, though, because we don’t want to throw our lives away on less fulfilling and more dangerous ventures. As with recovery from any unhealthy choice (such as drugs like Molly), we need time and a good plan to build a new, stronger way of life. Strength of this sort requires regular work-outs and sometimes a coach or trainer, to point us in the right direction and give us encouragement and prodding. Gaining the valor for a heart to heart lifestyle will be a journey, not a once-and-for-all event. It’s probably best to find a safe place to begin the journey, to test the water, and to take it one step at a time. You are welcome to come back and visit me here as you think about this journey. I will do my best to make it a safe place to be. It may not be here that you feel comfortable, but somewhere. . . share your adventure, share your heart, honestly.
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