When someone asks about your heart,

the best thing to do is to always be honest.


              How is your heart?
It's really quite a simple question when you get to it. But it is one that can mean (and can lead to) so much more.
Now I could take this question in two ways. The first: I recently had a really bad (stress induced) panic attack that left me visiting more doctors that I had in the past 8 years combined. I was terrified of what they would tell me. I had more than my fair share of tests done to monitor and check my heart. But I knew this wasn't how he meant the question.

--

I suppose I should back track a few years. 

I was once so in love with a boy that I gave him my whole heart and didn't ask for anything in return. It was young love, but I didn't know anything different. He knew my secrets and my dreams. He talked about the future in a way that I'd never thought about it before.
Problem? He didn't love me, not like I loved him anyway. 
Problem 2? I didn't even know what love was... like I said young love (I'm pretty sure that doesn't count).

That one took me a while to get over. I struggled to open my heart to anyone after that. Being heartbroken is a painful experience. But it is one that you can recover from, even if you can't see that then. I couldn't see it and I refused to believe it. Thus prolonging my heartbreak.

It was years later when, let's call him Nick (name changed for all kinds of reasons), came into my life and forced me to reevaluate what I was doing to myself because of this one heartbreak. Nick asked the hard questions and was patient when I needed time to answer. He never pushed further than I was ready to go. But he was always, even at 2am, ready to listen. He held my hand when I needed it and let me cry when I needed that too. There was no self-pity when Nick was around. You weren't allowed to feel that way; it just wasn't acceptable.

We build walls around our hearts to protect them. We want to keep people out, because if people can't get close enough to love us well they can't hurt us either. I have a horrible habit of keeping people arm's length away. Because it is safer that way. But it can also be really lonely that way.

There were, and still are, sleepless nights even after Nick. There were still times of sadness and aching that couldn't be pushed away. There were still 2am phone calls years later. But here's what I learned from Nick: we get to decide how people treat us. If we don't like it, we get to move on. Just because you move on doesn't mean you never cared. Sometimes it means you cared too much to stay in that situation.

I also learned probably one of the most important things I have ever learned: not everyone leaves.

Nick still answers the phone when I call. He still takes me to breakfast occasionally (when we are both in the same zip code). He still listens, really listens to me. Nick is still the lifeline that I need in life. But I am learning to move on and do things on my own.

That question came up again and again during countless talks with Nick. How is your heart? I always deferred that question and moved on. I was accustomed to hearing it and he was ready for my noncommittal answer. It was the one question that I couldn't formulate an answer for. But over time, I knew that my heart had been healing.

--

Now when the question came from someone new, I panicked. Why was he asking me this? Who had he been talking to? It's a fair question coming from anyone who knows me. I'd been asked it a million times, but I never felt the need to answer it. 

This time was different though. This time I felt like the questioner (is that a word?) deserved an answered. I'd never lied to him before or deferred a question. That wasn't part of the rules. I was at a loss on this one. 

I couldn't take the easy out and explain that my doctors had said I was all good besides being an overly anxious person. But that wasn't what he was asking. He was asking about my emotions and feelings... two things that I hate talking about. I have far too many and I don't know how to express them... feelings are gross.

              So how is my heart?
It is confused. But it's in a much better place than it was a few years ago. It still has a ways to go. And maybe one day I'll be able to talk about these things with anyone who asks. For now, I defer the question. I say that it's okay. I sigh and move on, knowing that I didn't fully the answer the question.

CONVERSATION

2 thoughts:

  1. Friends like *Nick* are the best kind to have! Everyone needs someone like that

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  2. I remember, in middle school, love was a game. But especially after watching too much k-drama, I know that it just makes it easier for everyone to be honest. I'm glad that your heart is in a better place now :) May it only grow stronger! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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