“Soft Hearted”

melted heart

Maybe you don’t see,
Little things get to me,
A silly comment, words unmeant,
Things merely insignificant
Spend hours in my head,
They tear at my heart,
And don’t cease
Till its apart.

There was never a time I don’t remember being soft-hearted, even as a little boy. Clearly I recall before first grade giving my uncle something for my first cousin. She was younger and had cerebral palsy. Giving her a prized rubber cowboy I kept safe in a drawer was my way to show I cared.

At nineteen I quit my job and moved a thousand miles with my roommate because he was relocating and needed help. I took off ill-prepared with no job and little money but it all worked out.

Close to ten years ago I relocated out of the country for the woman in my heart. Living on a tiny island where she wanted to be is not something a poor swimmer like me would ordinarily choose otherwise.

Professionally, I have stayed at jobs much longer than I wanted in order not ‘let down’ the people who worked for me.

More times than I can remember have been denials of my hopes and wishes in order to give to someone else.

Today I don’t really regret any of it, but do acknowledge the pain my actions caused me. For long years there was a struggle with thoughts like, “I do all this for them and they don’t appreciate it” or “I give and give and give. Why can’t they see what I need?” or “After all I have done for you, you do this to me!” I admit there is selfishness in those notions. To give with unspoken strings attached is not true giving. In every instance there was a lesson to be learned, but I had to wait until the ember of each emotion died down.

What remains behind of those things given in the past are stories I tell myself. Over time the tales have improved to where I can see my willing participation in each episode. Once the emotions settled and my part was exposed there came teaching that allowed me to see beyond the aches of a soft heart. Ultimately I realize now everything given eventually looped back to benefit me in one way or another.

“..It occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls… Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.” Neil Gaiman

I am grateful for each time I have been hurt, misunderstood, left-out, given more than I got or was left behind. Such are what made my soft heart strong.

Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,
and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.
I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.
Charles Dickens