“Are you afraid of being hurt?”
My friend sits down the drink in his hand and looks at me right in the eyes, his own glistening from the lights shining above us.
I laugh, in spite of myself and almost accidentally.
“No, I’m not afraid. Not really of anything, certainly not of being hurt.”
He pauses for a moment.
“Even after everything that’s happened?”
I smile, and start to explain the phenomenon that even I wouldn’t have understood, had you asked me a few years ago.
The one I want to explain to you now.
I know this might sound a little unorthodox, but I don’t fear heartbreak. I don’t fear loss or devastation or rejection or abandonment. Not even a little. Not anymore.
I believe that we’re only afraid of heartbreak because each one that we encounter in life causes a crack in our foundation, and that’s scary. The foundation I am talking about is what makes you, well, you.
It’s your comfort, your confidence, your lifestyle, your sense of self and optimism, it’s everything to you. And each time that someone hurts you they crack a little bit away at it. They make it feel more unstable, and they send friction into the grounds of its base.
So the next time you start to open up your heart to vulnerability again, you’re a little more hesitant and fearful because you’re not sure what will happen if you get another one of those cracks. The future safety of your foundation is completely unknown, and you don’t know if the next crack will be the one you’re not able to recover from. So you’re scared.
Fear almost always springs from what we consider to be the unknown.
But I, like many people reading this, have had way too many foundation cracks throughout the course of my life.
And recently, I’ve had the whole freaking building come down like a wrecking ball had crashed into it.
I’ve experienced a demolition of my entire foundation.
Like, the building was totally gone people. It wasn’t just cracked…it was leveled.
And I had to build it all the way back up. Brick by brick, struggle by struggle, I brought it back to life. And I’m still here, standing like a queen on the castle I built myself.
So, no, I’m not afraid of anybody or anything hurting me. Because I know that even if they do, in the end, they don’t stand a chance. I can handle it.
I’d like to see them try, honestly. I’ll stare them right in the face and say:
“Try me. Go for it. Drag me through the dirt. Send me into the fire. You won’t break me.”
Here’s the thing about people who know struggle and heartbreak, they aren’t surprised anymore by the harsh realities of life. And if those fears no longer exist in the unknown, then they aren’t scary.
These people think, “What more is there to fear? What are you (or life in general for that matter) going to do to me that hasn’t already been done?”
Abandon me? Check.
Let me down? Check.
Hurt me? Check.
Betray me? Check.
Kick me out into the cold? Check.
Die? Leave? Turn into a different person? Check, check, check.
Been there, done that. Had to move on each time, new cities, new people, new dreams, new perspective, new trials, new everything.
They are not afraid of losing anything. Because they’ve seen so much loss, and know they’re still here. They know it’s possible to overcome the impossible. They know they can handle it.
People that know pain are a friend to it. They know it isn’t a mysterious thief in the night, it’s a companion that will ride beside you forever, whether you like it or not, and that’s OK.
Now, those who know heartbreak can still engage in every opportunity to feel exhilarating and honest vulnerability, because they should. They can still feel fully. They aren’t numb or senseless or lacking in human regard for terrifying situations.
They just know that heartbreak can break their heart, but it won’t break them.
They know the darkest depths that love can take a person. So if they decide to love you, if they open their heart to you, they know the risk they’re taking.
And they take it anyway.
Because people who know heartbreak also know that no pain in this world should keep you from love; romantic love, love of a place, love of a passion, love of friends and family, and more importantly, love of one’s self.
If you let that happen, then every disappointment, betrayal, and devastation wins. They take from you the only thing that makes every obstacle in this life worth it.
And those that have been battered, broken and abandoned will be DAMNED if they let that happen.
Are they cautious about who they let in? For sure.
Do they have long patches of time after heartbreak where they have zero interest in seeking a redeeming human connection? Yeah, probably.
But are they scared?
Not even a little.
“I see. So, what would you say to someone who wants to try to be a part of your life now?”
“The same thing I would always say.”
I take a sip of the glass of cabernet sitting in front of me.