Tuesday, June 30, 2015

growing empathy for the one who broke my heart

For several mournful hours this afternoon and evening, our dog Chispa was missing. I wasn’t too worried in the afternoon hours, as our neighbor’s dogs have temporary residence in our backyard, and I was sure she was freaked out and might have dashed off, but would come back. We found her outside the fence when we got home last night, so I figured she’d just do the same again. As it got dark, I got worried, and drove and then walked around the neighborhood, looking for her. When we got back, dejected, I posted a photo of her on Facebook, hoping that would turn up a lead. I also called a coworker from many years back, as she’s married to the local dog catcher, hoping she could tell me if he had caught Chispa today. I left her a message.

On Facebook, a friend responded to my post about Chispa with kindness and a suggestion. I was struck by this little interaction, as this same friend had posted a photo of her lost dog within the last few days, and I hadn’t commented on her post nor followed up to see if she’d found her dog.

Eventually, my former coworker called me back and let me know that her husband had picked up a dog today that matched my dog’s description, and on the road we live on. I felt flooded with relief, knowing that while my dog was probably scared and miserable at the animal shelter tonight, at least she was safe.

The interaction with my friend, who’s local, on Facebook struck a chord, harmonic with another chord that’s been playing over and over again in my heart lately. Now, now that I’ve experienced this, I can feel my empathy grow for other friends when they lose pets. It was a stark contrast to how I’d breezed over that same friend’s post about her lost dog just a few days before. This isn’t about Facebook etiquette and dynamics. It’s about growing empathy.

I am better at growing empathy when I have experienced something myself. I don’t consider this a virtue or a fault. I’m also an experiential learner – I need to touch it, I need to DO it. So too, with my heart.

Today I grew some empathy and expanded my forgiveness for the one man who’s broken my heart in romance; I do believe there are other ways to break a heart, and I’ve experienced some of them. My one heartbreak so far in life occurred just a few years ago, and I was devastated to my bedrock. I also healed and am healing many needed wounds, congestions and dis-ease from my inner core in the process.

In my work towards equanimity and developing a healthy indifference to Heartbreak Henry, as I’ll call him, who lives also in my excruciatingly (in this instance) small town, I continue to struggle in my mind a bit with not seeing myself as the victim and him as the perpetrator, blaming him, and probably many other predictable emotional habit patterns of those of us distressed by heartbreak. Yes, distressed, because right now I experience the remnants of that heartbreak only as mild distress, anxiety and disappointment that arise when I encounter him or information about him. I’ve learned to clear out my system clearly and efficiently with muscle testing and energy healing when my awareness arises shortly after the distress reaction emotions.

In months and years past, I have been a kicking, screaming, barfing, weeping mess about this heartbreak. I have walked through the gauntlet. So, with as much progress as I’ve made, I’ve learned to forgive myself these judgmental habit patterns, not resist them, and watch them float by on my river of thoughts, just like everything else. Away it goes…

Today, in conversation with a friend, I discovered that ol’ Henry has left another woman (a post-me woman, as pre-me was his wife, with whom he was still married during our relationship, and still is) in a puddle of heartbreak. And then, wham, whiz, marvel of it all, my mind cracked open, and Heartbreak Henry once again became the mirror for my healing process.

See, prior to my affair with HH, I had never experienced a truly broken heart. I thought maybe I’d never REALLY been in love, though now I realize that hindsight in affairs of the heart can be quite distorting. I’d been in love before. AND, I’d never so fully given my love before in a romantic relationship. My love for my children had and continues to reach those angelic heights. I cracked open my heart, and gave of it fully, to him, to HH.

In previous break-ups, I’d left a small but still significant trail of broken hearts.
As I heard today the story of HH and this other woman, I remembered how I’d felt sad and some longing in past romantic partings, but a bit of disconnect; I wasn’t fully invested, so though my soon-to-be ex’s heart was breaking, mine wasn’t. I was witnessing his sadness with a bit of distant concern, almost like he was a character in a film with whom I empathized.

And I remembered, in those moments when I was pounding my fists on the ground and vomiting and screaming and weeping, HH had always appeared so far away, so disconnected, so unaffected. And it hit me – HH had never had his heart broken.

Maybe. I could be off here. As with so many things with HH, it’s not really about him. It’s a wonderful, flying-into-the-glory chance for me to expand my consciousness, and my heart.

I remembered old, disconnected me. Though I’m older and wiser now, I’m less decrepit, less stiff, less set in my ways. And I am most definitely still doing the good work so that it may continue to be so.

From my time with HH, I discovered how fully I could give my love. And now I’ve been blessed with the most generous and hilarious best friend of a hot lover of a partner, and I have learned to give that love AND receive that oceanic love right back. My heartbreak was the path to this bliss, for me. When we came together, my Love was in a state of heartbreak too, though his was an unbearable sense of heartbroken loss from a young, beautiful, loving, passionate and gifted friend who was lost in an accident, gone way, way too soon.

Today, I remember what it was like to break hearts, to even feel a little superior in that moment of not being as devastated as the “other.” Today, my empathy and forgiveness grows for Monsieur Heartbreak, for I have walked in those shoes.

And I walked right out of them, into the barren hell of my mind, the deepest shadows that challenge my heart and my love for myself and all life. And I walked through that fire, as I surely will again, to the other side, and jumped into the seething, bubbling, pulsing, soothing, buoyant, saturating, life-filled ocean, into Love.

In my prayer for my own equanimity, I have found something more harmonic than indifference. I pray, with clear love and deep gratitude, that Heartbreak Henry gets his heart broken before he dies, and gets to experience the ineffable blessing of the journey back.