I have heart issues without a health plan. Metaphorically any way. Allow me to explain.
In 2001 I fell out of a company run and was whisked away with difficulty breathing and chest pain. It wasn’t the first time or the last that I would fall out of something with these symptoms. I have a friend by the name of Oonyu that will never let me forget a particular time. This incident however led to an irregular EKG and a very rapid trip inside of a tiny shoebox of an ambulance through the absurdly narrow and twisted streets of Japan.
On the other side of the drive I received an echocardiogram and, after a considerable amount of Japanese grunting (hai hai hai,) I was diagnosis with an asymptomatic enlarged heart. It wasn’t enlarged due to circumstances. It is just genetically about twice as big as the average Jane. It didn’t stop me but it certainly created a bit of irony and laughter for those who know me well.
Fast forward to last week while I was hanging out on my best friend’s couch and the following dialogue ensued:
“Hey I just got this text. Give me an excuse to get out of it.” My heart dropped into my feet and I could feel my palms get sweaty. “Uumm, the truth?” I managed to squeak out.
You see, I don’t lie well. Even if it manages to make it out of my mouth my face with report me in an instant. A game of poker with me is more like a stick up followed by an exchange of cards. And I like it that way. I see no need for dishonesty and I believing omitting is a lie. What’s wrong with coming at a situation with the truth? When did we become so concerned with hurting people’s feelings that we decided to lead with lies to “protect” them but not concerned enough with their feelings to spare them the gossip and slander? Where is the line between protection and enabling?
The other night I hopped in the car with some friends for an unexpected after party. This wasn’t any old group of friends as much as that rare breed. The type of people that you meet and know instantly that they will be on your forever path but as you get to know them the friendship just gets sweeter and sweeter with time.
In my haste to say “yes” to an experience and exploration of life I left everything behind. I had cash but no ID. Of course I didn’t discover this until we were well into downtown Austin, half an hour away from home at best, and at midnight.
Upon realizing this I faced the situation with my usual life motto, no worries. I looked up and took in the scene and the facts:
1. Night club
2. Doorman; intensely addressing drunk patron and having officer escort him off the premises
3. Roped off door line
4. Abundance of officers
So, I jumped into line and tackled the situation with my best tools in the box, honesty and kindness.
“Hi there! I’m Ariel. I already owe you an apology. I didn’t bring you an ID. Or anything for that matter.”
“Hi Ariel. I’m Josh. Nice to meet you. And none of that matters because I’m going to take care of you tonight.”
I was admitted into the club promptly. Josh and I would have a pleasant exchange later as well. He would extend me grace as he refused it to another because of my initial honesty.
I am often accused of making friends with everyone and everywhere I go. I think that there is something to be said for this. People prefer being treated with honesty, kindness and respect. Somewhere along the lines we convinced ourselves that we are doing people a service by sparing them the details. Or believing that we can somehow alter the path of pain someone is on by putting a damper on the exposure to the lesson and only revealing a portion of the experience. I believe that in order to love someone unconditionally (be it friend or lover) you must allow them to be exposed to the full and complete actuality that they are living into, especially the painful pieces.
While dancing in that same night club I couldn’t help but be overtaken by the very young “woman” showing so much skin! The ones that were strip teasing and dry humping the wall that couldn’t have been a day over 21. It was heartbreaking. I had to fight every urge in me to protect so many that were choosing to place themselves in harms way and minimizing their worth. I wanted to shield them from the life trials that would inevitably find them. That’s when my friend offered that I should just let them learn on their own from their painful encounters. He was right. That’s how they would learn. But where is that faint line between protection and enabling?
*Side bar: You can be sexy without being easy. And there IS A PLACE for those skills, in your bedroom, with your man. Doesn’t he deserve that to be just his?*
Hoping that they can live into their own journey and learn from it does not make me immune to the pain I’m watching being experienced. I will admit to having s serious case of savior complex. My tattoo artist often refers to me as, “Captain save-a-hoe.” My ex, and dear friend, has accused me of piloting the life preserve at a pool party.
I have a desire to protect and save but I battle that impulse in order to let people live into the existence that was designed for them without my interference. Sometimes I am successful. Other times I am an epic failure and I dive in dragging them out of the water only to hear the words of my ex echoing in my ears, ” It’s a pool party bitch.”
The best I can offer is that I am constantly reevaluating the circumstances. I have recognized that I am intrinsically a giver and protector and that, even though that is my given role, it is not always a role that needs to be played. I do try to do my absolute best to get out of the way and allow my people to explore and endure their pain and their joy in their own way to its fullest extent. However, I am not designed to watch people struggle.
Yesterday someone told me that I need to protect my glass heart. That my heart is transparent in all its honesty and fragile from all the cracks the dishonesty and harm have created over the years. I respectfully disagree. I believe that somewhere out there is the one person that can compliment that fragility with the strength I’m always forcing to the surface. I finally realize that there is no need for me to take those traits as weaknesses as much as they are my constitution. Someone out there has the gentleness to embrace that tenderly but the strength to accentuate it. And I’m in no rush to find that. So, until then, my plan is to just keep being me.
This has always been my challenge and I assume it likely will remain this way to the end. I used to try and change it but I have since come to a place of acceptance. This is who I am. A lover. A giver. A protector. Loyal. Compassionate. A healer. And a feeler. And although those traits come with what some would inherently call weakness and flaw, they are what I am majorly comprised of, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
*As always I look forward to hearing from you. Please; like, share and follow. I can’t wait to experience this journey with YOU!
Note: I am curious how YOU balance the line between enabling and protecting. Please weigh in below.