Every day, every minute, every moment is an act of self-discovery for me. My waking moments are a study; a study of myself, of others, of myself through others, and of others through myself. A continuous process, a cycle of observing, reflecting, assigning meaning, and understanding. I cannot see how I can live even for a day without this habit.
It is a blessing and a curse, the way I see it. A blessing in a sense where my empathy and emotional intelligence are constantly at work, where I am always opening up space inside of myself to understand those around me better, with an open heart and open mind, and of course, seeing the world as it was made for me: a puzzle for me to piece together of my own accord and pleasure, resulting in a stronger connection towards it.
It is also a curse, this way of living and looking at things. With my critical eye and mind, the world loses it’s colorful patina. I am constantly scraping it off to reveal what’s underneath. My desire to see things for what they are below the artificial surface steals away my own ability to just be; to take in everything as they are, to accept people and things without taking a step back first just to turn them over in my hands to understand them better before anything develops. In other words, I overthink everything.
I never think too much of the curse of it, however. It’s brought me good things, and helped me in a lot of ways. But just this once, I might have to steer away from my mind because this is one of the only things in my life that I can never get to the bottom of.
I never really understood my heart. I never understood just how capable I am of loving in it’s most genuine form. I second-guess my own feelings, I never know when and how to give and when to stop. It is a push-and-pull, a game I never seem to understand the rules of.
In my habit of assigning names and meanings to things, I look for a term, a word, something, anything that I can use to name this deficiency. Once again, returning back to my habit of intellectualizing everything, of not allowing even a small matter go by without my notice. In many ways than not, I liken it to the medical condition called the Tetralogy of Fallot.
A congenital heart disease, in which babies are born with a combination of four defects to the heart’s anatomy, causing issues on the heart’s system and the way it works to supply sufficient oxygen to the body.
It’s a dangerous condition, and once detected during childbirth it is imperative for it to be fixed through surgery immediately.
I don’t think I ever got to fix it when I was a child. Of course, with anything you face during your childhood, when it is not resolved, you live with the reparations of it all through your life. It is too late for me to do anything about it now, but by giving it words and explanation, I think I may be able to live better with it.
I can’t tell the defects that I had — like the four defects to the child’s heart that can be diagnosed. It may be something to do with a lack of affection, with the absence of a father figure in my life, with things I’ve been exposed to at such a ripe age back then. In a way, I am afraid to question my childhood, to look at the inadequacies and the empty voids that were supposed to be filled. I am afraid to do that because I know I am privileged in many ways growing up. I believe that with all the inadequacies, my childhood was still adequate enough, that there are plenty of things to be grateful for, and I am.
So, in my attempt to just look at the current things, to not walk back too far in my life, I will lay down at my feet what I have now, what I am going through and feeling (or not feeling) at this very moment.
I guess I never know when to love and to feel at just the right amount. I love and I feel for many things, for many people, and I fear I may love too much. And when I don’t see myself loving too much, I find myself invalidating my feelings for everything. It’s either I try to turn the cup sideways to pour my love into something and end up overspilling it to the brim or I place the cup down and not even try. I can never pour in the right amount most of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that about myself, my ability to love abundantly. I am forever thankful that I am filled with so much love for so many things, even the simplest of them. I have so much love to give that I sometimes fear I may not be able to love everything I am supposed to in this short span of time I’m alive.
Sometimes my love spills over too much, the water soaking into the carpet below fast, almost too fast. It rarely happens, but when it does, I find myself loving something or someone to the point of almost pain, a pulsing ache all over my body that renders me psychologically paralyzed at times, unable to focus on anything else, my vision tunneling for days on end, until one day the spell ends and I return back to my regular self, no longer in tight bounds of my selfless love. It is times like these that I wish I can take the love that I pour into things to the point of extreme spillage and pour it into those cups that are half-full. But it doesn’t work that way, you can’t explain love, the same way you can’t pick it up in your own hands and place inside elsewhere. No, it will sift through your fingers if you try to and settle back in the place you tried to pick it up from.
What contradicts this is my pure stoicism when I am not loving, and my inability to express to people my act of loving, either for them or for the things around me. I love on my own for the most part, I translate my love well in my own silent presence, I feel it on my own. That is what makes me doubt my own capability of love sometimes. Because how can I love so deeply and so abundantly but still have so much indifference to certain things and people in my life?
I feel like I only see things in black and white, I almost always never give room for the grayness, for some overlapping of facts. And how much of my time has been wasted through me questioning my own heart, the complexity of my own feelings, something completely normal for us humans?
In my own life, I am surrounded with people that loves visibly. I have a friend, someone who like me, has so much love to give. Her small body cannot possibly contain that much love, and she reaches out her hand to pour some of her love to people, even strangers. Of course, it is always the right amount. I am always a little envious how she manages to tip the cup with enough control all the time.
This friend of mine is like a constant light to me, she’s taught me how to love visibly, how to reach your heart outward to the world and not keep it inside to blossom on it’s own. I observe her when I can, studying her effortless ability to love without feeling like it is taking everything from the fibres of her being. I am her secret apprentice, the lone moth to the light that I try to project from my own being as well. But this lesson is a process, one in which I need to act it out on my own for no one, not even her, can do it for me.
I’ve tried to put into action the things I’ve learnt. Complimenting strangers is up on the list, though I can never find the perfect thing to compliment them on, or I catch a glimpse of myself through the mirror in the elevator or the washroom and imagine how creepy I’d seem to randomly chirp up to someone about how good their hair genuinely looks or how much I like their shoes. Telling my friends and family members how much I love them is an even weirder situation, I doubt myself even before I blurt it out. Do I really love them? I know I do, deep in my heart, but saying it out loud almost seems to erase all of that. It makes it feel like I’m trying to put my own love out there in the real world just to prove something to people, although I didn’t need to be doing that.
I want to be better at putting my love out there and of accepting that the things I do not love still deserve my attention, to exist in my life, and that it does not disprove my ability to love truthfully. I really do. But most importantly for the time being, I need to understand that perhaps I am not really meant to love outwardly, and that is completely alright.
I may hold tight to my own love, it may take me a while to show them to the world, to scream with all my strength how much I love the world and the people in it and everything that exists, but at the end of the day, my big heart, in all it’s flaws and defects and inabilities, is all it takes to prove that I am capable of loving, that I am able to touch things with nothing but my love, even if I’m the only one who knows. I never have to prove to anyone of my love, it is mine and I can share it with others in my own way.
My own personal Tetralogy of Fallot need not get in the way of my loving. It does not and will not stop me, I will keep on loving, and to take my steps slowly, the steps toward learning how to flip my heart out to the world and to stop doubting my emotions. I need to remind myself that as I’ve said, this span of life is short, and while I may not be able to love everything on the surface of this earth, I can love what I can deeply, with all my being.
Written By: Natasha