Our hearts always seem most susceptible to breaking by the person we least suspect — especially when that person is us.
That’s what’s so dangerous about it — we’re mostly unaware. We run around protecting our hearts as though the idea that we’re closed off and solitary will do any good, without ever thinking that the one person who can wreak the most damage is in the building to begin with. Nobody goes around tossing them up the air, lobbing them at anyone and everyone and everything to see if they will stick — and yet everybody, at some point, gets hurt anyway.
Sure, we wear our hearts on our sleeves in the beginning. But fling your heart around carelessly once or twice and learn how easily it can bruise, how little it takes for something like a heart to shatter. You think it’s resilient. It’s a muscle, after all, and muscles are tough. But tough does not mean it’s indestructible.
When your heart breaks and you repair it, you develop scar tissue and cement in the cracks that don’t quite heal over, and your heart becomes harder and smaller. More compact, closing itself in on the places and the pieces you didn’t recover, protecting it from outsiders. You call this hardening becoming wiser, becoming stronger, learning from your mistakes and licking your wounds, and you are more cautious about handing your heart over to just anyone next time. Or maybe the time after next time, because the next time you do it, you’ll still be optimistic, still be hopeful, still beg this new ideal to reaffirm every belief you have in love and trust and truth and safety.
There are songs and movies and cautionary tales and tears between friends that warn you about getting your heart broken. We advise against it — we say to be careful, to not fall in love, to watch who you fall for. No one warns us that we’re the ones who most often swing the hammers.
You never think about yourself.
Because the thing is, breaking your heart happens over more things than just lovers. When you’re young, you break it over dessert for dinner and presents and things you wanted deep down to the core of your soul, but couldn’t have for one reason or another. And then you grow, and you begin to break your heart over grades and sports games you played and parts in the spring musical you wanted, and a person here or there, maybe, and then colleges and more grades and dream jobs where your application was never acknowledged and interviews but nothing more. You’ll break your heart over bills and apartments with great natural light you couldn’t afford, and parking spaces someone else won out if you’re having an off day. It doesn’t take much, as life goes on, to throw every last egg into one basket at a time, and then take it personally when more than a few come back cracked.
Maybe you’re doing it because you’re tired, or you’re lazy, or you’re so single-minded about this one dream, this one plan, this one thing to propel you along that whether it’s a sure thing or not, it suddenly becomes the thing. The person. The job. The opportunity that just seemed so perfect in the moment… all of the untold little pieces that cobble together and create some vision of the future, of what it could be, of what might be, of what you think is possible.
You will break your own heart. You will do the dirty work for everyone and everything else, because they will be too busy protecting their hearts or breaking their hearts or simply moving along with their own lives to notice that there are casualties on the sidelines. And that’s the thing: people are so concerned with their own wounds and fractures and missed opportunities that they aren’t out to break your heart to begin with. Most of the time, anyway.
And so you will break your heart, and you will have to learn to heal it. You will move to a new city, cut your hair, find something else to chase: a new goal, a new dream, a new whatever. And whatever it is still runs the risk of breaking your heart all over again, but that’s the risk of anything worth being passionate about. Is it always worth it?That’s for your heart to decide.
You will break your own heart a thousand times over in the course of one life. You’re supposed to. Because if you broke your heart, it means you cared enough — you loved enough — to take a risk. And the only real way to tell if something is worth losing your heart over, is to try. Even if it comes back with a few smaller pieces, you’ll have the memories, and the knowledge that you were brave enough in the first place.
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