Dear Therapist: My Heart is on the Line

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Dear Therapist:

I told my special someone that I love her. Dang! She didn’t return the sentiment. I’m all in and she’s not. What do I do now?

Signed, Heart On the Line

How courageous to have acted on how you felt and let your partner know. Sometimes this is the only way to open up dialogue about where the two of you are in relation to one another.

I hear how “out there” you feel given your partner has not returned her love to you. It may be a good idea to take an honest assessment of the situation – were you surprised or not? Do you feel you are on the same page with one another or did you feel that you are more invested in the two of you than your partner?

These types of questions can help you discern how you are feeling both on the surface and underneath as well. If you are in love with someone, it is natural to express it with freedom and truth. That turning toward love is worthy. Now that you know it is not returned to you in the same way, you can decide how you want to proceed with your partner and/or on your own.

This is a crossroads moment in many ways. Are you willing to wait and see if your feelings will be returned? Is it not enough to be the only one feeling the love at this point? How does your partner feel about your love? Is it prompting her to draw closer or further away from you? Notice how you are feeling as you interact and observe what is happening between the two of you.

Yes, your heart is on the line and now, because of your courageous expression of love, your partner’s truth is also on the line. What you notice and observe about yourself, your partner, and the two of you together will be key to the next steps you take.

A Heavy Heart

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A Heavy Heart

A friend texted me the other day and although, like most texts, it was short with very few words, I could feel the heaviness of the person’s heart in that little note.

Now, how can you actually feel a text? I think the Millenials and those younger than me can read feelings in texts just fine with the help of all of the emojis, but for me (& my generation) there is something that still has to be read between the lines. It is implied, but not a given, unless we have the courage to ask or simply reply, “I feel the heaviness of your heart.”

How to handle a friend or a colleague’s heavy heart? Presence. This seems to be a critical key and one that seems to be lacking for younger generations who basically find presence in the on-line, social media driven world. For me, when I received the text, and felt the heaviness, I replied back by naming what I could read and feel between the lines. The person wrote back a note of thanks for me naming what she was feeling.

However, I made a mental note to myself to check in with this person when I next saw her to really show my presence, my care, my concern over her situation. I knew the immediate text of empathy would help, but I also knew that a heavy heart needs presence, interest, a kind word, a show of care that takes a little more time than sending a sad emoji.

This may fly in the face of our tech world, and may be something you laugh at, but when you think back to your hard moments, what was it that you needed? Even though technology keeps speeding up, human beings still function the old fashioned way, The gift of presence can lend a balm to a heavy heart like none other.

Yes, it is expensive as it is our time and no-one has much of it anymore, but it’s also our fellow family, friends, and community. Taking care of the heavy hearts as they arise is critical to holding on to what we all need as people living together on this planet. Do not let your phone an other tech gadgets fool you. Reach beyond to ease someone’s pain.

Tis the Season

Tis the season to be jolly…

Or so the popular holiday song goes. What exactly is “jolly” anyway?

I took a moment to look up the meaning of “jolly” in the dictionary and read,(1) “in good spirits, lively, merry; (2) cheerfully festive or convivial; (3) joyous; happy.” Yes, this holiday song reminds us we are now in that time of year where we are to make merry and be lively, happy, joyous to make the festive season — well, festive, of course.

As such, many of us have this expectation well and truly ingrained in our minds and bodies for as long as we can remember. Yet, the pressure and stress to be jolly can lead us to being anything but merry and bright. This season arrives during the darkest days in the northern hemisphere as well as when natural light is seriously lacking in our days.

When I lived in Oz for a year, I will never forget the unusual holiday season I experienced where it was hot – about 100 degrees on the Gold Coast – and the days were at their longest. Well, it was all upside down – the light was with me, but the heat made me feel like Santa was definitely going to melt on his sleigh. Still, the natural light added a joy to the season that seems to lack in the north.

How are you feeling today as the jolliest time of the year kicks off?

Perhaps you are festive and merry – ready to make it the happiest season of them all!

Perhaps you are anything but and are looking for places to honor the dark spaces and feelings within you this season.

I am curious if you aren’t a mix of both — a little happy and a little sad? Holidays can often lead to many special events and traditions that we look forward to all year round and, simultaneously, evoke in each of us a poignancy of what has been lost over the past year or anxiousness over a season that often feels overwhelming and stressful.

It’s a mixed bag to be sure. Honoring where you are as the season kicks off and staying true to however you are feeling allows you to lean into the holiday season with a connection to your authentic self. Probably one of the greatest gifts you could give yourself this season and throughout the year.

Check out this article from the NY Times for an interesting article on being sad over the holidays.