February 8, 2019

The Unbroken Heart

I was in high school when my mom introduced me to the soundtrack to the Broadway show The Fantasticks. I listened to it (on a cassette tape, I think) from start to finish, but having never seen the show, it was a little bit hard to know exactly what was happening in the story.

The first time I heard "Try to Remember" I knew it would be a song I'd love forever. Especially when I heard the following line:

"Without a hurt, the heart is hollow." 

You might be wondering what I, a sheltered teen from a small southern town knew about hurt. Looking back at that sweet, but silly girl, I would say definitely not much. But then, I thought I was such an expert. I thought the struggle was real all the way back when. Definitely before there were memes to poke fun at the concept. 

So that line in the song really resonated with me. Maybe it was because it somehow took the idea of pain and made it a good thing. As if our hearts are just hollow chocolate Easter rabbits until we get some broken experiences to clink and clatter around in there. Could be.  


I have a friend. Let's call her Rosie. We've known each other for a couple of years, but only in the past six months or so have we gotten to be really close. She has some challenges in her life and a few times, I have tried to pitch in and lend a hand where I thought she needed one. 

I was lamenting to another friend about how it can be tough to know when to help and when to mind one's own beeswax. My friend said, "I know you love Rosie and you want to help, but I'm just afraid of seeing you get your heart broken." 

And I know my friend meant this with all love and compassion for me. But what I didn't realize when she said it was that it's too late. My heart has already been broken. Maybe yours has been, too. 

Broken by a situation you didn't ask to be brought into. And even though you were/are loved, there's tough stuff too. 

Broken by feeling just a bit (or a whole lot) different from the rest, and like nothing you do will really make you fit. 

Broken by the disappointment that washes over you each and every time you let yourself believe things will be different and then they aren't. 

Broken by having to straddle the fence between two worlds....wanting so badly to exist completely in one or the other, but feeling like you really don't belong in either one. 

Broken by the consequences of the decisions of others, decisions that impact you wholly and yet those you have no control over. 

Broken by expectations you'll never live up to or maybe broken by the ways you hold yourself back to protect others who can't bear to see you soar. 

Broken by feelings that lurk around the corner and creep in when you are most vulnerable and least able to defend against them. 

Broken by the lies you've been told, even possibly by your very own self, and especially if you believed them. And are still believing them. 

There are so many things that break our hearts. And sometimes we don't even realize it while it's happening. Just like the stock market and how nobody really knows if it's a bear or bull until it's over. 

I can't actually remember what it was like when my heart was pristine. Hollow. These days, there are enough broken pieces clinking and clattering around in there for a lifetime. And same for my friend Rosie. 

Our hearts were broken ages ago. Before we even knew it. I'm not sure if she knows it still.

The funny (or maybe not funny) thing is my broken heart is the reason I love my friend Rosie so much. Maybe I see a little of myself in her. Or maybe I see her in me. My heart may be broken, but nevertheless, it loves so good.