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Living With an Open Heart While Protecting Yourself

I feel so strongly about living a life of vulnerability. I want to meet people who I give my best self to and in doing so have a better understanding of who I am and how I show up in the world. I feel like there’s no better way to get to know myself than by being honest and sharing my truth. So I live for connections where I feel this electric bolt of commonality. “You see me and I see you and I still love you just the same.” And I want this in my partnerships in my relationships in my friendships and with my family. I seek this avidly in everyone that I meet because I’m not settled with the idea of casual friendships.

But the issue I have in doing this is that I don’t protect myself. And I naively open up to someone and expect them to open up to me. And I convince myself that there’s only one way to receive this kind of love and this kind of friendship and when that person is showing up in the only way that they know how it doesn’t feel enough to me. So I end up breaking my own heart. And I distance myself.

But the hidden truth of all of this is that love lives differently in everybody’s body and they show it in different ways. And to expect someone to show love the way that you show love is saying that the ways that make that person beautiful, the way that they grew up and the principles that they have are not unique and are not enough. And that is a closed off way of looking at the world.

We all have childhood stories and pasts that we are healing from that affect the way that we show and receive love. I am learning that the best way for me to receive it is to be open to the many shapes and forms that it can be shown in. I will live openly so that I can show love in my way but I leave my expectations at the door to protect my heart and to keep the strength of my love that I’m ready to give.

Boundaries are important because they allow you to see that person and yourself clearly. They allow you to keep what you want and give what you can and receive what that person is willing to give you. Expectations can kill a beautiful bond. To only see love in the way that you want to see love can make you feel very much alone.

I think we owe it to ourselves to live boldly and be vulnerable and to get our hearts broken so that we can build the courage and strength to fight for what we actually want. But I think the key to this is figuring out how we want to show up in the world and not expecting anyone else to do it in the same way that we do. To love without needing anything in return.

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