I believe the need for connection is one of if not the strongest driving forces in the human experience. The desire and need for connection underlies much of how we show up in the world. Connection and belonging are encoded deep within our hearts. And we are hardwired for both connection and protection.
My need to connect with you will be the place where vulnerability and defense meet. My heart will move me toward you while my mind and its programming will employ all sorts of defense strategies in case my invitation for connection is met with resistance or out and out rejection. My tender places risk being exposed if I am truly committed to following through with the impulse to connect. All previous hurts will flash through the field of my awareness, and bring with them the spontaneous recoil And pullback that comes with seeking to protect an unhealed wound. I will be in an emotional tug of war with my need to love and the imprinted terror to do so.
Of course if I show up armored I am closed in and off. If I show up exposed and undefended I am open and so at risk. I can both be safe and cut off or vulnerable and in touch. After decades of pretense fueled by chronic defense the pain of the former gave way to the liberation of the latter. I am committed to living in a wholehearted way, and the only way I can do that is to risk intimacy and exposure repeatedly and relentlessly. The shroud of protecting my admittedly sensitive heart was walling me in to an experience that was far less than what I know I was born for. The pain of past hurts began to pale in comparison to the torment of withholding the love I longed to give.
I remember at a visceral level the little boy who gregariously and unashamedly expressed the love and generosity of spirit that was such a natural extension of what was true within me. I felt joy in my heart and in my moments, and I felt certain you wanted to meet me in that primal inner space. And slowly I began to learn that the natural loving expression of that little joyful boy could be met with shaming, rejection, manipulation, and even abuse. The wide-openness of the heart lens began to shrink, cloud, and contract. The defenses began to be formulated and employed. What had felt so natural began to seem like profound risk. Belonging felt illusive, connection tenuous. My wide open world of awe and wonder was replaced with pretense, pain, and disconnection. The world became unsafe. I was not safe. You were not safe.
The need and drive for connection has led me through layer upon layer of grief and anger and shame. I have sobbed away the veils, courageously confronting the shroud around my heart. I have opened and recoiled countless times. I have moved toward, and I have most certainly run away. Every time I retreat I do so to attend to my hurting heart and to come back out of hiding. I step forward once again to reconnect with the impulse of my soul. It is now safe in here, and so risking connection with you is far less frightening. I know I belong in here and so belonging with you is a far less daunting and dangerous proposition. Understanding my own protective mechanisms allows me to endure your reflexive disconnection and defense.
My spirituality is experienced deeply as the connection within my Source, within my own available heart, and in the courage to open to you and to the potential of pain inherent in living undefended. Connection is authentic to what and who I am. And it is a moment by moment dance of contraction and opening. It is at the core of why I am here. Though connection may sometimes lead to pain, that pain lets me know my heart is open and available, and that connection is central to my experience of being fully alive.