I spent a lot of time in my younger years being strong, not needing anyone, holding it all together on my own. It was only when I started falling apart and there was a crack in my shiny fabricated veneer that the light was finally able to get through. Time and again life kicked my ass, I waved the white flag in surrender, and suddenly on the horizon…an angel appeared in the form of a friend. I’m talking a real friend, someone who wasn’t put off by the fact that my life was messy, that I was weak, vulnerable, scared. When I think about it, all of my closest lifetime friends, including my husband, showed up when I was in a dark valley of my life. Each of them took a risk on me. And I risked my battle-weary, Humpty-Dumpty heart.
And that’s what I want to talk about today. Taking risks is good for your heart, even the Surgeon General says so. Okay he didn't say it, I made it up (creative license) but I'm pretty sure about it. If I could put a warning on the side of life's package, it would say: Loving someone is a risky business, but the payout is beyond your wildest imaginings.
Here’s a little story to illustrate my point…
Early this year I took a risk by admitting my fears on a writing website. I said that as a co-dependant it terrified me what my family would think if I actually completed this memoir. I feared that telling the truth would ruin me. I dared say out loud what I had been fearing privately for years, a fear that had been holding my creativity back.
A stranger responded:
“Never, ever, ever give up. Write your story. Tell the truth. Be brilliant, be bold, be brave. Fuck ‘em. Something amazing will happen. Love, Amy Ferris”
I was intrigued. First of all, that this woman would give so much support to someone she had never met, and second, that she wrote “love, Amy Ferris’. How incredible (how risky!), I thought, to just put your heart out there so fearlessly to a complete stranger. (It made me think of all the countless hours I’d spent struggling with how to sign off on emails, letters, cards…. And finally settling for “Best, Hollye Dexter”)
But it was because we each risked something, and continue to do so, that our friendship blossomed. Actually it more than blossomed – it exploded.
I could have been more cautious, jaded even. Hell, I’ve been burned, I mean to the third degree, by former friends. One friend bankrupted me. Another tried to sue me. Another did everything she could to steal my job. Over the years I’ve been judged, backstabbed, screamed at, bitched out, left behind, abandoned….all by people I loved and called my friends. But I keep putting my heart out there. You know why? Because its worth it. Because loving someone and walking beside them on this life journey is such a privilige. Through the years I’ve learned that friendship is messy. Sometimes you have to walk away, sometimes it’s absolutely worth fighting for. And yes, with each new person I meet, there is risk that I may get hurt again, but guess what - I will live.
I have no regrets over relationships gone bad. Life is richer when you learn to shovel through the manure of your painful life experiences and use it to make your garden grow.
Today I am in deep gratitude , and want to say thank you, I mean big time THANK YOU, to Amy who risked her heart in reaching out to me, with all my imperfections and needs and crises, seeing right through it to the best part of me. You were right Amy, something amazing did happen.
And thank you to Kristine, and to Erin, Dani, Joy, Kelly, Cindy, Richard, Diane, Beverlee, Beth and my ohmygod my amazing angelic facebook posse and writer friends… Thank you all for having faith in me when I didn’t. Thank you for loving me when I felt unlovable. Thank you for seeing things in me that I couldn’t. And most of all, thank you for risking your heart.
Wow oh wow am I glad you did.