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My Heart Feels Like Charlie Brown Trying to Kick a Football

Amber Adrian

Plowing forward, filled with hope, leaving the ground with the high of the kick as you look up to the sky ...and then the nausea-inducing spinal trauma of crashing flat into the ground. Yup, my romantic life most accurately resembles Charlie Brown trying to kick a football.

This is mostly my fault. If I try to date out of fear that I'll miss out, or because I'm bored, or because I want the quick hit of validation, or because I think I should, or before I'm completely out of the grieving cycle, that's when I get stood up four times in two weeks by four separate people or end up unraveling a tangled mass of karma. 

So I vow to be more careful a dozen times a week, to guard my heart better. But that’s not really what I want, and I know it. Even when I’m carefully instructing myself to just go ahead and be a different human this time. 

Being in a relationship with me means you occupy a portion of my heart’s real estate and you get to live there for the rest of your life, whether you want to or not. Luckily, my heart is growing bigger every day, so I don't begrudge the space. Construction is ongoing.

So far, three people have annexed a corner of my heart. As much as it hurts in the healing stage, if I love someone enough to assign them a lifelong corner of my left ventricle, how could I pass up that love for as long as it lasts? I can't, and I wouldn't want to, no matter what I tell myself in the getting-over-it process. 

Minor heart fractures do fade. Karmic entanglements do drift right back out again. Melt like ice cream on a hot sidewalk, leaving only a sticky residue to eventually wash away in the rain, the cement no worse off - and maybe even retaining a hint of that invisible sweetness.

But the big cracks, the breakages, those don’t recede as easily.

Two major heartbreaks in one calendar year strike me as more than plenty - and explains all this hard-felt keening and flopping in my ribcage over the past few months. 

(This is what keening and heart flopping looks like.) 

I was wrangling last year's heartbreak around this time in Hawaii. Hey, if you have to get over something, you might as well do it on a tropical island. The big energy of those islands had me rolling through vision after vision of my not-on-this-plane-but-still-very-persistent daughter

As these visions drove saltwater into the cracks to unapologetically bust me wide open, I saw my heart being knit back together with gold light.

Heart breaks open, you put it back together again. With Elmer's glue, if you have to. 

A friend once called me a dating warrior. “You just keep throwing yourself back out there to get trampled.” I'm an enthusiastic warrior, but apparently not a very good one. 

But every time I hurl myself into the ring, my heart does grow bigger. It has to. 

Feeling big clears out big space. Space for unconditional love to flood in naturally, replacing the sadness and the anger and the “here are seven reasons we both royally fucked up” judgment parade marching through my brain in an alarmingly predictable loop.

When the unconditional love starts sweeping everything clean again, the space that lets everyone have their own experience and knows that the love doesn’t go away even if the people do, that’s when I start having more trust in the process.

Trust in myself - that I haven’t profoundly fucked up this time, even when my brain is pretty certain I have. Trust that the right relationship will work out at the right time for everyone involved - and that I don’t have to hurl myself warrior-style into the coliseum to be gnawed on by a tiger for the privilege.

I do want to be kinder to my heart. I'm learning what that looks like, slowly but surely. It means not proceeding out of fear or need for validation. It means giving myself plenty of space and room to nurture me and my relationship with myself. For now, I'm just thrilled that my heart is finally feeling less raw. Joy is starting to feel more natural, and all the I'm-in-a-grieving-period bad decisions and massive karmic tangles have finally stopped. It kind of feels like a hot shower and big meal after running a marathon - routine experiences that suddenly feel like Christmas morning, simply because you put yourself through the wringer first. 

It's like the universe is asking for my faith, asking me to just surrender. Because the more I try to control, the harder everything gets. But if I just trust what comes my way, and trust myself to handle it, everything simplifies.