“The heart never lies.”
Ah, bull pucky. Besides the fact that my heart isn’t the place where my feelings come from, and my heart doesn’t have an agenda, my feelings come from my brain* and my brain not only has been through some stuff, it may have been born or otherwise emerged from my formative years with some serious defects or flaws or quirks, or whatever you’d prefer to call them. To be blunt, i’ve had some screwed up ways of looking at things.
I was indoctrinated by religion, pummeled by years of abuse, and systematically and vigorously taught not to think for myself. My upbringing showed me a twisted version of love, and skewed my perceptions about people generally, and relationships specifically. And no, i didn’t know in my heart that something was wrong. I thought it was normal. It didn’t feel good all the time, but sometimes it did. It felt natural and comfortable absolutely. I didn’t realise how i’d been raised was spectacularly wrong until i was 21 years old.
As a result, i’ve had a number of crappy relationships with crappy people. I’ve remained loyal to some who were utterly unworthy of it for ruinously long periods of time. Such is my loyalty that i’ll tell you with very few exceptions, it was them that ended the relationship and not me. (Except with men, but let’s save that particular ball of crazy for another time.) I loved them and wanted them in my life, and my physical response was a varying combination of an elevated heartbeat that either feels all bursty with the joyousness of human connection, or painfully aching and rather clenched with the threat of that connection being ended.
These were people who said awful things about me behind my back. Some had assaulted me physically and/or sexually. Some were only in it for what i gave them, be that my body, my time, my money, or even just my unconditional support and my i’ll-never-leave-youness. People who didn’t particularly want me, but for whom i was better than nobody. And my favourite, those who thought it was either their calling or their duty to be in my life. And i’ll be brutally honest and tell you that although i sucked at relationships of any kind, regardless of whether sex was involved or not, i wanted them all – every selfish, cruel, judgmental, unavailable one of them. They may have been one, or all of those things, plus others, but i’m trying not to dwell here (no really, heh). The important thing is they weren’t good for me, either for a period of time or for all my time.
They used me up. They sucked me dry of everything i had to give and then summarily dropped me. Now, my capacity to give was admittedly limited, but i didn’t really know that at the time. All i knew when they ended the relationship was i’d done something wrong, i’d screwed things up again, somehow. And to be fair, i think some of them were as clueless as me –about themselves and their own machinations– and to them i just seemed to become unsuitable friend material. But my heart was crushed because i wanted them.
In fact, my heart thought i needed them. It reached out towards them and urged me to fix things. It imbued me with a desire to make things right regardless of the cost. And on those occasions that i obeyed its desperate pleas, it rewarded me with feelings that might qualify as blissful. I’d be floating on a pink, fluffy cloud and gazing down at the apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves. However, life with the person i thought i wanted in my life was never harmonious like that song by The New Seekers. My heart was manifesting the things in my brain that were dysfunctional.
The parts of my brain that functioned fairly well were pretty sure it wasn’t going to work out, and i was going to get hurt all over again.
* I know this is obvious stuff everyone knows. Sometimes i find a bromide helpful.
IMAGE: Allessandro Valli