The Heart Can Bear it All

The stories I used to tell myself to feel better are no longer sticking. It’s like I don’t buy my own bullshit anymore. The self-soothing narratives about how life would be, about how intimate relationships would play out, and even the stories I held about being exempt from catastrophe…I’m seeing how flimsy these tales really are. They actually don’t hold up in the living.

My experience of these last few years has felt like a loss of innocence or even a fall from grace. The fairy tales of my youth have slowly been eroded away as life has shown me a different story than the one I’d been clinging to. I think for most, the process of ‘pulling back the curtain’ happens in layers.

These stories are just that…they’re stories. They’re fallacies, myths that I carried and that we all carry. “If I’m a good person nothing bad will happen to me.” “Someday my prince will come.” The list of myths goes on and on. Perhaps yours are slightly different than mine. We lean on these stories, we hold onto them as though they were floatation devices in the turbulent sea of life.

Maybe for some these fantasies pan out. For me, the last strands of these are unraveling, loosening, and fraying completely. I’m coming face to face with a more concrete reality based on what's in front of me. The reality that is staring me in the face is kind of daunting by comparison. I feel more aware of what people have to go through, of what we’re asked to live with, and the heavy-duty experiences that are entrusted to us. I’m looking at life, my own and the life of others with new eyes.

Strangely, I have a sense of peace about it all. Even though this emerging view is sobering, at least it’s rooted in ‘the real’ and I feel like I’m standing on something solid instead of on some illusion or shoddy story that I used to tell myself.

There is nothing the heart cannot handle. I believe that with all of my being, there is nothing too horrific for the heart. The heart is capable of holding it and being present with it all.

Catastrophic and painful experiences, if used consciously, can act as stretchers for the heart, expanding it’s capacity. The stretching part can be excruciating, like having growing pains, but when the heart container truly increases in magnitude, there is nothing that it cannot hold. I read somewhere once that pain carves the well and then joy can fill it. Suffering expands the hearts’ capacity to feel it all.

Perhaps this is where my sense of peace is coming from. In the dispelling of illusion, my heart now knows what it’s opening to and what it needs to be present for. I have a peculiar feeling of readiness emerging, a confidence that my heart has the capacity for this—whatever it is. Even this is not too much.

So perhaps this loss of innocence is not necessarily a fall from grace but a fall into grace. The sacred is present even here.

I’m ready to put my ‘work gloves’ on and to apply myself. Kindness is love with its work gloves on. Thoughtfulness, appreciation, and consideration are love in action. There are endless ways to activate the presence and endless capacity of the heart.

It’s easy to love when all is rosy and the prince is charming but to love in the ruins, to love with eyes wide open, to love when shit goes sideways…that requires a heart of gold. A heart that has grown resilient in the flames of undergoing, a heart that can bear it all, a heart that knows no bounds.

Perhaps the only reasonable question to ask when faced with ‘the real’, with the reality of life, is, “What would love do?”

Copyright © 2015 Marie-Ève Bonneau