George Carlin says “when you get a pet, you’re purchasing a small tragedy.” Because your beloved furry friend (if you’re lucky) will die before you do. And while that may seem like a dark or depressing thought, the truth of it teaches about love is vital
Love inevitably leads to heartbreak. No matter how hard you try or how careful you are with your heart, it will be broken. And not just because even lifelong loves are separated by death, or because we’ve been sold an impossible fairy tale about romance, but because heartbreak and love go hand in hand.
To love fully is to be broken open. To risk it all is to be inside of losing it all.
Yet most of us play defense when we play for love. We long for romance but fear getting dropped and crushed.
We look for red flags, we open up slowly, we try to make a list to get the right person and avoid the wrong person.
We defend our hearts and we seek to free our hearts and we end up tied in knots as a result.
How can we possibly hope to do something like love. Something that requires flexibility, creativity, courage, and faith. If we are unwilling to allow our hearts to be seen.
But we protect our hearts because we all know what it means to have our hearts broken.
We find this out when we’re young.
Our parents seem like gods at first. Perfect, even if they were awful.
And we bend and twist ourselves into the shape they need us to be to get love.
Then at some point we slowly realize these humans have no idea what they are doing. They are simply stumbling along like everyone else.
This realization. The de-heroization of our parents, no matter when or how it comes, is heartbreaking.
As we awaken to the fact that they aren’t god-like, we realize we love human beings who despite their best intentions love us with imperfect hearts.
Many of us remember this deeply in our bodies. Even if our parents were amazing and loving.
The heartbreak lives inside of us as a warning.
To be careful, to withhold trust, to go slow.
And so we do. We protect our hearts with conditions and lists or we step over our hearts and into wild impossible fantasies of another person they can’t possible fulfill.
No matter how we relate to love, the result is the same.
We don’t reveal the true tenderness of our hearts. Because we are afraid to have them broken.
But then . . . if we’re lucky. We meet someone who brings our defenses down. We let go of fantasies. We trust.
And as our hearts open to them, it breaks. It breaks in loving them. It breaks in all the human moments where we remember they are simply imperfect like we are. It breaks when we realize there is no one coming to save us or our relationships.
It breaks because that’s what loving hearts do.
And if we’re lucky we learn this lesson.
That to love is to be heartbroken. That defending your heart is pointless even counterproductive.
Because the way to love is through heartbreak. The way to break patterns is through heartbreak. The way to the kind of deep connection we long for is through heartbreak.
Whether we want it to be or not.