The Courage To Choose Love, Even When It’s Hard

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I was reminded today that we can choose to be bitter. We can be bitter over how much we have been hurt, the injustice of every way we have been wronged. Over the ways we weren’t loved and how we weren’t cared for and all that we didn’t receive that we felt we were entitled to. We can carry that close to us and hold it dear and let it dictate how we treat the world. Respond in kind. Even score. Eye for an eye.

Or we can see what a blessed opportunity we have to be the catalyst for change. To be the ones to break generational cycles. To choose to no longer hurt others because of the ways others have hurt us. To do for others what was never done for us. To sow love where only hate has been reaped.

To do differently; to do better.

It doesn’t always come easy, and it doesn’t always seem fair – to be the ones to have lived without love and yet be the ones to offer love back into the world that broke us. There isn’t any justice in that. Yet we are the ones who now choose to put in the hard work of ripping out our thistles of anger, bitterness, and judgement that we have allowed to grow and have nurtured with our unforgiveness, no matter how justified we may have been. 

It takes much effort from our often weary hands to work the hardened soil of our hearts so that new seeds may be planted; much dirt under our nails and blisters on our fingers and grit that gets trapped inside our skin that we scrub, and scrub, and scrub, yet still can’t be free of. But it’s not always our own pain that matters. It’s how we choose to treat others in spite of that which makes all the difference.

It isn’t our responsibility to change the entire world ourselves – that is too much for each of us to carry. But we can change our part of it by offering love in the places we have been hurt the most. This is how we can heal not only the hearts of others, but also ourselves.

Because today, as I was able to offer love in a place I had been wounded, something was changed inside of me too. Something was released. Softened. Broken open. Healed. Restored. A work was done deep inside of me as I chose to override my own pain so that I may not cause the same pain to another.

A new seed is born.

The world is healed a little more.

Our healing comes in many ways. But always, always, our healing is found in the courage to choose love, even when it’s hard.

And No-one Ever Told Me How To Break

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And no-one ever told me how

healing was supposed to feel.

That it would be an anguish

that claws along my ribcage

before it tears me wide open

and lays bare all my ugliness.

That it would be scarves of

pain weaved around my neck

like hands that grip my throat

and leave me fighting for life.

That it would be a wilted body,

exhausted from the relentless

fight against the demons that

wage war upon my beaten soul.

That it would be bloody hands,

blistered and raw from clinging

so tightly to the addictions that

deaden this goddamn torment.

No, no-one ever told me how

healing was supposed to feel.

I didn’t know it would hurt like

barbwire dragged over my skin,

and knives gouged in my heart.

Yet all I know is before I’m able

to full heal, I must allow myself

to fully break.

Image courtesy yourtango.com

How Our Hearts Are Changed By Betrayal

 

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You haven’t always been this way.

You haven’t always been a body lined with thorns, a heart wrapped in razor wire; hard lines and jaded eyes.

Distant, aloof, guarded.

There was a time you were shades of pastel; when your heart knew love, and trust rested freely upon your fingertips.

There was a time your days were painted with innocence. Where eager eyes gazed at the world with hope and wonder, your heart still shiny and new.

But all of this changed the moment you were betrayed by someone you loved. Someone you trusted. Someone who should have protected you. Someone who hurt you instead. Someone who allowed you to be hurt by others.

There is little else that shatters a heart as much as the pain of betrayal. It tears you open, rips your heart out of your chest. You don’t want to put it back, you want to leave it on the floor to bleed until there is nothing left, until the blood runs dry and you no longer have to feel a damn thing anymore. But you can’t. You have to go on. So you pick your heart off the floor and place it back inside your hollow chest.

Except, the heart that you put back is never the same heart. It is wounded, war-torn. It no longer seeks love, but only to protect itself from the pain of ever being betrayed again.

A heart that is betrayed is changed forever.

No longer will it trust anyone again, but greets every person with reservation and fear; wary of a world that has proven to only take advantage for its own benefit. It remains hyper-vigilant in its desperate need to prove itself right; forever searching for the cracks inside another person that prove they too are unworthy of trust. It needs to know its enemy. It needs to remain one step in front at all times. Kindness is met with suspicion, for your heart has learned nothing comes without a cost – there are always strings, always an agenda. Your heart rejects kindness, remains cynical of it, refuses to accept it. It would rather suffer on its own than accept kindness that allows it to become vulnerable to another.

Your heart no longer knows how to trust itself either, and it makes vows to stay hard, to stay tough. Never will I want again. Never will I need again. Never will I trust again. Never will I love again. These vows are the cornerstones of the fortress it builds around itself, the strongholds that keep the walls in place. It gives up hope of ever being protected and instead learns to protect itself. It becomes a slave to its independence, its autonomy. Here, in its fortress, it is safe. Here, behind its walls, it can remain distant, removed.

Here, your heart can trust itself not to feel. 

For betrayal has taught your heart how dangerous it is to feel. To want, to need. To desire love, relationship, connection. No, your heart must deaden itself to its desires. It must wake each morning with one goal of attack – to kill your hungry soul. To destroy your desires before they destroy you. Your heart cannot afford to want, it is too dangerous, too much of a risk that will lead to being hurt again. This is how your heart stays safe – it refuses to be tempted by love ever again.

Except, your heart was created for relationship. Your heart was created for intimacy. But intimacy is the enemy, the biggest threat. Intimacy requires your heart to be vulnerable, to let someone close. To betray its own desires in the hope it will not be betrayed because of them. Intimacy is the most dangerous of all, and your heart turns itself away and chooses to live without hope of relationship, of closeness, of oneness with another.

Betrayal has changed your heart.

It has damaged your heart.

It has left it powerless, helpless, vulnerable, wounded, damaged, guarded, broken. Your heart can no longer trust, does not trust. It no longer believes in the goodness of anyone else’s heart. It no longer believes it is worthy of being loved, of being protected. It is tired from living in a constant state of anticipation and expectation that it will be hurt and betrayed once more. It no longer wants to love, no longer knows how to love. It has become numb, deadened to its desires, and you tell yourself you are content with this.

That here, you are safe. You are in control. You are untouchable.

Except, you are lonely. So goddamn lonely.

And this is the paradox of betrayal.

You are scared of relationship, yet relationship is the very thing that will heal your heart.

Dear heart, there is a need for you to be safe.

But there is a greater need for you to be loved.

The only way to heal is through love. You must find the courage to pull down your fortress. It has kept you safe. But you have dwelled long enough in your solitude. In your loneliness. It is time to lay down your weapons. Surrender is not defeat, but the end of the fight.

To love is to risk hurt. To trust is to risk betrayal. But you must risk so that you may heal.

Your heart has learned how to stay safe, how to survive.

Now, it must learn how to once again love.

Image courtesy onlinewallpapers.blogspot.com.au

I Wish I Could Be Better For You

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I wish I could be better for you
That I could be like the poems
You read when you can’t sleep
Like the first taste of red wine
That kisses your eager mouth
Or the drops of saltwater that
Cling to your skin on a hot day
I wish your fingers didn’t bleed
From holding on so tight to me
That your ribs were not broken
From the way you fit my heart
Inside the safety of your chest
I wish I was more than sadness
That I could be louder than my
Silence and softer than my rage
I wish I had been taught of love
The love you are well taught in
Not the kind of love that forces
Your legs open in the nighttime
And fills your mouth with shame
I wish I was not made of mistrust
And sewn together with betrayal
Maybe then I would know how to
Be like the woman in your poems
Maybe then I would know how to
Be better for you.

I Forgive You, And In Doing So, Forgive Myself

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Today I woke with your name upon my tongue, bitter, like the dregs of whisky that burned my throat last night as I drank to the sound of sad movies and faded dreams.

Bitter, like the taste of poison in my veins.

Once, you were the tender kiss of morning coffee upon my lips, the gentle warmth of the sun as it streamed through worn blinds and washed over our bones; our limbs tangled in the bed we used to share.

Now there is only the imprint of your memory, laid to rest in the cold grave next to me where you belong no more.

Yet still you remain, trapped inside my heart where the acidity of all we became seeps into my bloodstream and contaminates my flesh, my organs, my soul.

Yet still you remain, trapped inside the walls of my unforgiveness where I have refused to set you free. Where I have imprisoned you to my hatred, to make you suffer the wrath of my anger the way I had to suffer yours.

Except, the only person who suffers, is me.

I step outside, barefoot, and feel the cool of grass between my toes. The air is fresh, pure, and I breathe it into my lungs, ache for it to cleanse the remnants of you that reside within my core.

No longer do I wish to keep you here, inside my heart, where you corrode my veins. No longer do I wish to keep you here, where I am shackled to pain, where I am captive to misery with every breath I take.

I gaze at the horizon where city meets sky and in this moment I know.

There is nothing to do but forgive you.

There is no weakness in forgiving you, it is not an ill-fought surrender.

It is bravery, it is strength. It is release, liberation; freedom.

It is an act of love.

Not only in setting you free.

But in setting myself free.

Because in forgiving you, I forgive me.

I forgive the girl who needed to be loved, whatever the cost, no matter how much it hurt. Who didn’t understand back then how much she was worth and all that she deserved. Who settled for less, settled for abuse, turned the other cheek, all in the name of love.

I forgive the girl who made mistakes, who made wrong choices, who hurt other people because of how much she was hurting. I forgive her that she stayed, when she should have walked away. I forgive her vulnerability, her weakness, her desperate need for acceptance. I forgive her that she didn’t know how to fight for her heart back then.

But now she does.

Three simple words.

I forgive you.

No longer will I continue to hurt you for the way you hurt me.

But more importantly, no longer will I continue to hurt myself.

I step back inside, get dressed, and make myself some coffee. The day stretches out before me like any other.

Nothing has changed, except, everything has.

Finally, I am free.

Image courtesy fashionshowing.wordpress.com

And Maybe I Will Go To Therapy

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One day I will not be so young
And foolish in the ways I hurt
I will arrive at therapy sessions
And learn how grown-ups heal
I will take notes in a notebook
With its pages still untouched

I will no longer soak my pores
With bottles of cheap red wine
Until I cannot tell the difference
Between alcohol and the blood
That seeps between the pages
Of the books I will never write

I will no longer be the angry glow
Of cigarettes along empty streets
As I watch garbage trucks at 4am
And hold nicotine against my lips
And pretend it is you I hold there
While a streetlight flickers above

I will no longer throw my outrage
Against the wall above your head
And watch as your fingers bleed
From sweeping shattered pieces
Into bins already full of confusion
That I cannot find a way to empty

I will no longer fill your suitcase
With the heaviness of my fears
Then show you to the front door
Instead I will tell you not to leave
“I need you,” I’ll speak out loud
And my eyes will not look away

One day I will not be so young
And foolish in the ways I hurt
And maybe I will go to therapy
And learn how grown-ups heal
Or maybe there is no right way
To put ourselves back together
After all.

Image courtesy pinkithy.blogspot.com

It Wasn’t Your Fault

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It wasn’t your fault.

It wasn’t your fault you weren’t protected from getting hurt when you were younger.

It wasn’t your fault you weren’t told how much you mattered, how much you were worth.

It wasn’t your fault you had no voice, that you were powerless and not taught to say no.

It wasn’t your fault you didn’t know how to draw the line around your heart, mind and body to protect yourself from being hurt by others.

It wasn’t your fault the people who should have shown you where to draw that line instead made you feel you weren’t important enough to keep safe.

You grew up with no lines and no boundaries and you didn’t know the difference between love and abuse, and because of that, you allowed others to hurt you, when all you really wanted was for others to love you.

And that isn’t your fault.

Let yourself be angry. Let yourself be angry that you were never told how much you were worth. That you never protected yourself because nobody ever protected you. That you allowed people to violate the lines that should have been there but never were because you weren’t told how to put those lines in place.

Because you weren’t told how important you were, and how much it mattered.

How much you mattered.

Let the anger rise within you. Allow yourself to cry tears of rage and grief for all you have lost. For all others have taken from you – not what you have given away – but what others have taken from you, that you can no longer get back.

Use that anger to fight for yourself in the way you should have been fought for. Use it to reclaim all that has been taken, to reclaim your heart. Let the anger become a fire that rages in your soul and burns away the tarnish that others have left upon you. Let the flames consume you, let them purify you, let them cleanse you and refine you until all that is left is the beauty of who you really are.

Your worth is great. You were created by the same hands that created the galaxies and the stars and the oceans and the storms and the wind that rages across the four corners of the earth. You were breathed into existence, not by accident, but with purpose, with promise. The entire universe listens just to hear the beating of your heart and the whisper of your breath. You were meant to be here. You were supposed to be here.

You were wanted here.

And you are worthy of the kind of love that nurtures your soul and heals your heart. A love that sees your value and worth and believes in you. A love that is strong and kind, loyal and true. A love that brushes the hair from your eyes and kisses your forehead and gives you its jacket when you are cold and holds your hand when you are scared and draws you into its arms and doesn’t let go until it stops hurting. You are worthy of someone whose feet are anchored; who loves you when you radiate with the light of the moon and stars, and loves you even harder when you are cast in the shadow of your own cold sorrow.

You are worthy of a love that will never, ever hurt you.

Draw your lines, dear woman, for within these lines lies the truth of all that you are worth.

And the moment you come to know this truth, is the moment nobody can ever take that away from you again.

~ © Kathy Parker ~

Image courtesy kolyan.net