Wednesday, February 2, 2011


There is a song lyric that includes the invitation “love like you’ve never been hurt.” I use the word invitation even though it feels more like a dare. To live and to love like we’ve never been hurt is at once daunting and exhilarating.

We know scientifically and psychologically that small children have a sense that there is something inherently wrong with them by the time they are three years old. Three years old! When our hearts are most tender and open we receive mostly inadvertent messages that who we are is somehow bad, wrong, defective, in need of fixing, shameful, sinful, and even evil. When we are most vulnerable and imprintable our openness becomes emotionally bruised in ways that frequently effect a life time. Our early woundedness has us subtly wincing through relationships, situations, and aspirations. Our then open hearts learn to close in defense, and it often takes a great deal of healing and integration to allow them to consistently stay open even in the face of conflict or rejection.

Though it rarely gets attributed to it, those who suffer defended hearts often surrender their dreams and sabotage their good. They remain in unhappy situations and circumstances long after the urge to leave has been activated. Those with unintegrated bruising often find themselves staying in inappropriate relationships and unfulfilling careers. They attract unjust and even abusive treatment, and they see the successful other as someone who is intrinsically superior to them. There is a tendency to fulfill a self- prophesy of the other shoe dropping, and Murphy’s Law is karmically intertwined in the story fabric of their experiences. They sadly get what they believe they deserve. They love like they have been deeply hurt, and the surface mind dominates a life experience of little intimacy and defensive connection.

And yet these bruised and sometimes aching hearts are the very instruments through which we must direct our love. The defensiveness must be softened if we are to ever experience the depth of love that is at our spiritual core. Vulnerability and intimacy are inseparable. The heart that cannot open to give can never widen to receive. At the level of the Soul we are unidirectional beings. Our volition flows out from center to circumference. We must choose to love. In fact, we live within the love that we are choosing to give. The love that we are experientially receiving is the returning dynamic of the love that is going out from us. The early wounding that appears to happen to us is an illogical balancing of the unintegrated material that we are incarnating to heal. In the face of the deepest hurt, we must choose to love anyway. In the throws of the most aching contraction, we are called to stay open. When we most want to hide, we are Soulfully urged to move forward. When the trigger is touched is when tenderness feels most dangerous. Emergence and evolution is about the heart choosing to remain open through places of past habitual closure. It is not so much loving like you’ve never been hurt as it is developing the capacity to love the self through the hurtful places. It takes an enormous amount of faith to embrace exposure and defenselessness when those have resulted in grief and woundedness. It takes a vigilant resiliency to breathe open the habitual contractions. It demands a new relationship to old wounds to allow the love to flow forward when the imprinting suggests that rejection is the result.

No one can take away my choice to keep my heart open. No one past or present can keep me from giving freely my love. The defensiveness and resistance that used to keep me locked in closure is just too painful. Today I do not love like I’ve never been hurt. I love like someone that has embraced the hurt enough to be able to choose to love anyway. Love is what I am. An open heart is where I dwell. A giving spirit is how I choose to be. When contraction and defense arise, I attend to my heart in a way that allows an opening and a release. And then love is what I choose to give, and love is what I choose to be. As my heart stays open so do my arms and my experience of life. My dreams are restored and my relationships renewed. I am one who has known great hurt and yet chooses to love anyway. And that is a testament to a heart undefended.