If I were to describe myself, I'd say that I'm a sensitive, caring person. Someone who wears their heart on their sleeve.
When I was younger I thought these traits were a weakness. They made me vulnerable, easily taken advantage of, and frequently hurt. I tried to hide this part of me deep down.
But the older I got, the more I realized that being emotional and compassionate weren't something to be ashamed of or to shy away from. I needed to appreciate and embrace this side of me. It's what makes me...me.
I'm grateful that people feel comfortable sharing their problems and heartaches with me. I love listening, helping, or just being their shoulder to cry on.
It's not something I do for praise or gratitude. I just love knowing I was able to make a difference in someone's life. It's a special feeling, one I cherish.
Recently, a dear friend was at his lowest emotional point and needed a safe haven to rest, recover, and nurse his wounds. Without hesitation I opened my heart and home, and he moved in with us.
Weeks turned into months, and it became clear that living with my family was really helping him. He was growing stronger, more like his old self every day. His outlook was getting better, and his life seemed a lot less bleak to him than it once had. His gradual recovery was inspiring.
And then, one day, he just left.
Some call it ghosting, or an Irish Goodbye. It's something you might do at parties, or when you're leaving a bar. It's definitely not something you do when you've lived with someone for four months, relying on them almost completely. He'd given no notice, no warning that this was about to happen.
Someone we'd supported like family and made a priority in our lives was gone. Just like that. We got a very impersonal email from him after, and that was all.
I felt betrayed, unappreciated and cast aside, robbed of any pleasure that helping him had given me. Just like our friend, that special feeling had vanished. I was heartbroken.
I barely slept for two nights. I was upset that I had let myself get hurt again. Had I opened myself to this with my desire to help every lost soul who crossed my path?
Now I wanted nothing more than to close my heart, lock everyone out forever. No matter how much love or support they needed, I wasn't letting them in. Tucked away in my emotional fortress, nobody could ever hurt me again.
Sad and tired from my second sleepless night, I headed to the kitchen for some coffee. As I waited for it to brew, I looked out the patio door at my lifeless, desolate backyard. The trees bare, the furniture wrapped in tarps, the flowers long dead.
Staring out, lulled by the sound of my coffee trickling into the mug, my mind started to drift to memories of my stunning garden in the summer.
My backyard is absolutely beautiful during the warmer months. It has multiple areas to entertain and relax, lush gardens that burst with colour, and lots of trees, which are strategically placed to add shade and privacy.
It's taken my husband and I seven years to create this oasis. We planted and built every bit of it ourselves. The pond and the trees, the bushes and the structures. Every single patio stone was placed there by our own hands. It's been a labour of love that I truly enjoy.
I thought about the rhododendron bush, which always blooms first in the spring. Shortly after, the peonies would flower, the trees would be adorned with leaves, and vibrant life would return to my garden once again. It wasn't dead. Just dormant.
It would flourish and prosper like winter never happened.
And in that moment I realized that my heart was no different.
Winter melts into spring, bringing a season of new life.
And like the winter, this feeling would pass.
So why had I been so quick to think that I would never want to open my heart again? The possibility of getting hurt is never enough reason to not help someone. I can't let one person change me like that. I will never turn away a friend in need.
In time I will forgive, forget, and move on. My heart will bloom again.
With that thought I turned away from the door and grabbed my coffee. Walking to my couch, I could already feel the season turning.
Written by Heidi (Founder of the Positive People Army)
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