Feeling with an open heart

I’ve spent a lot of my life protecting my heart and minimizing my feelings. In the past, I built walls and tried everything I could to minimize feeling things too much, including heartbreak. And in those rare moments when I did fully open up, I experienced indescribable pain and sadness. In response, I built the walls higher and stronger, kept myself busy, and tried to pretend that it wasn’t such a big deal –“it’s all good” is something I frequently utter!.

Recently, I realized this approach was no longer serving me and likely was limiting my capacity to experience life in the way I was looking for. This was prompted by a holistic healing session, where I was asked if I’d experienced disappointment lately. My initial response was no; however, the more I contemplated the question the more I realized yes. I had experienced a ton of disappointment (e.g. not getting a job I had wanted, a hopeful relationship not working out); however, rather than processing and feeling these disappointments fully I had quickly stepped into accepting and planning mode; telling myself it was for the best and making lemonades out of lemons! I was, in many ways, quickly skipping over feeling into rationalization and action. I realized I was missing out on fully feeling sadness and sorrow, and was also likely missing out on feelings of joy, excitement, and love. Things needed to change. Despite the fear of hurt and rejection, it was time for the walls to come crumbling down.

Leaving that appointment I made a commitment to feeling: to feeling everything as fully as I could. Interestingly, this coincided with meeting a friend of the male variety, and rather than shying away from the possibility, I stepped in with an open heart. I showed up as me and leaned into discomfort. I took risks, made a lot of mistakes, stepped out of my comfort zone, and I was genuinely excited by what was and the possibilities that lay ahead. For the first time in a long time (perhaps ever), I jumped in; and although it was scary, I felt exhilaration, excitement, and fun! Simultaneously, I felt vulnerable, anxious, and unsure; leaning in when I likely should have stepped back, and reaching out for validation rather than seeking validation within.

In the end, we wanted different things, despite me trying to convince myself I wasn’t looking for a relationship (I am). And although it makes sense rationally, it hurts. I’m feeling waves of emotion and grief. I can feel myself wanting to fix things, while simultaneously trying to let go. I’m also noticing myself trying to rationalize and take actions, rather than sitting in it. However, rather than trying to make sense of it, I’m trying not to go there just yet. I’m trying to feel it all the way through. This time, the feeling comes first.

That being said, I have learned a few things as this process unfurls: I can be excited about dating again (because I was), I can jump in (because I did), and I can feel deeply (because I am). And so, with my heart open wide, I’m feeling it all; and despite feelings of disappointment, I’m also excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. This is all practice to show up fully as me.


  1. Juliet Adoch

    wow, am glad that my lady is finally open up to the feeling of love and vulnerability

  2. Katia

    Beautiful as always, Cheryl. Your words remind me of one of my favourite poems, since feeling is first by ee cummings:

    “since feeling is first
    who pays any attention
    to the syntax of things
    will never wholly kiss you;

    wholly to be a fool
    while Spring is in the world

    my blood approves,
    and kisses are a better fate
    than wisdom
    lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
    – the best gesture of my brain is less than
    your eyelids’ flutter which says

    we are for each other; then
    laugh, leaning back in my arms
    for life’s not a paragraph

    And death i think is no parenthesis”

  3. Katie

    Cheryl we can learn a thing or two from each other. You are so good at trucking along and planning ahead and seeing any situation as an opportunity. I sit in my feelings, slogging through them wallowing and despairing. This isn’t always productive but I sure don’t avoid my emotions. Lets meet somewhere in the middle and have tea!


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