I hate my heart. Not the physical blood-surging-life-giving muscle we all need to efficiently function, but the symbolic love-giving vessel that connects with our brains.
To my surprise, I have grown into a sensitive flower. When I open my heart to allow people in, they don’t realize how fragile it is. As we age, you would think that our mature hearts would become more rigid and be able to withstand the pain and shock of deception, betrayal, and abandonment. For me, that’s just not the case. In fact as I’ve aged, my heart has made me more emotionally susceptible to the world around me. Those sappy teary-eyed love songs and advertising jingles even pull on my heartstrings. I won’t say that I have a problem, but when a certain television commercial airs that encourages the liberation of Fluffy and Fido from captivity, I quickly change channel to avoid feeling that emotional tug on my heart and financial tug on my wallet.
In our youth, we lack the experience and comprehension to truly understand our emotions. Even in our adulthood, as we learn to love, we truly don’t understand the depth of our feelings. As a young teen living in Hawaii, I didn’t allow anyone to really get to know me because I was afraid of getting hurt. So I played a tough guy on the outside to keep the bullies at bay. Ironically, this is what made me a target. Kids would intentionally do things to prompt me into action. I found myself involved in fights at school for the smallest of offenses. For example, as we cued up for lunch in the cafeteria and if someone pushed me from behind, I would immediately turn around and slug who I believed was the jerk who initiated that pushing; whether the act was one of intention or accident. Luckily, I grew out of that phase and blossomed into the kind-hearted and loving person I am today…provided that I’m well fed!
I am truly a people person. Eric, my partner jokingly and affectionately calls me a social whore! About two years ago I befriended a young man of color who was new to the area. I was excited to have the opportunity of showing him around town. We clicked and became instant friends. I introduced him to Eric and our extended friendship circle (the Posse). Living here in the Great “White” Pacific Northwest can be a challenge when there aren’t a lot of faces that look like your own. Portland, Oregon may be known worldwide for its food scene, but its lack of diversity also gets its share of press. In a 2017 article in the Oregonian, Blacks represented 2.8 percent of 2.4 million people living in the seven-county metro region. Many POC (people of color) arriving to the city have regularly expressed feeling unwelcome and leave shortly after their arrival. I didn’t want this to happen with my new friend. My partner and I opened our home to him for holidays and birthday celebrations. We learned that our friend was also an only child, and that his mother died from a heart attack during his young adulthood; she was the anchor of the home and did everything for him (including cleaning his room). The father, we were told, was often away from home on business leaving mother and son to fill the void with distractions from his absence.
So not so long ago, this friend became distant and wouldn’t respond to invites and text messages. When there was a text exchange, it was usually a random response that never addressed the previous inquiry. I tried to find out what was going on him, but those lips remained tightly shut. At social events where he and I would be present, the avoidance was blatant and intentional, even catching the attention of mutual acquaintances. I had so many questions: Why was I being ghosted? or Was he jealous? Does this explain the “dissed”-connect my partner and I experienced with our friendship? Not likely. My heart ached from the not knowing, but I had to accept that fact that the fun and laughs of this friendship was now over.
I’ve since reached out to this friend but there was no response. I am at peace.
This feeling isn’t unique only to friendships, but family can also contribute and even sustain the effects of a broken heart. You see with family, there is life history; the good, the bad, and the ugly. A history sometimes filled with acts of blame, half-truths, and denial of any personal responsibility that prevents the heart from healing. This leaves all family members feeling exhausted, cautious about moving forward for fear of reopening old wounds. This too causes me heartache. There’s no real cure for this affliction other than a continued effort to move forward. I think it was Rose Kennedy who said that time heals all wounds? It’s hard (for me) to let go when there has been an investment in any relationship.
I blame my mother for my over sensitivity issues. Not my biological mother, though there may be some connection there too. I really blame Mother Nature. Apparently as men age, we can become more sensitive. I think that it has something to do with men’s bodies producing more estrogen and less testosterone as we get… dare I say it …older (gasp). All I can say is, I pray my pectorals aka “chesticals” remain perky throughout my state of maturity and don’t morph into “moobs” (man boobs). I plan on doing what I can to remain a mantique (older man, slightly banged up but still retains his value and charm)!
Well, for better or worse, through heartache and heartbreak, I will persevere! I just have to think twice about any new friendships and question those existing relationships when they become an emotional vortex! Hating my heart is really a pretty harsh statement, but when compassion and forgiveness are involved, the heart will definitely suffer from its share of bruising.