Hearts Don’t Really Break. They Break Open.

Has your heart broken open at least once or twice this week?

Did it, at some point, burst open with happiness?

Or sadness?

Even anger? Followed eventually by other emotions or deeper understanding…

Did you witness something, think a thought or hear a conversation — and did you notice that taking it in required your heart to expand (yes, break open) to fully consider what you saw, thought, or heard?

How are you doing with this thing called daily living?

Are you awake and aware and feeling deeply?

My daughter and her husband are leaving Asheville soon and heading to northern California to pursue school and work. They are ready for a fresh start, more variety, more opportunity in a new environment. They said they’ve been “sleep walking” through the last couple of years, and are going to change things up. This good family stir-up has prompted me to ask more questions of myself about my average day. 

Am I open? Awake? Expanding?

Or am I on auto-pilot, and in the average day not much opens me up or changes (teaches) me? Am I sleep walking?

Do I care enough about being happy that I throw caution to the wind and do what I came here to do, today, in this moment?

Am I being myself, or am I being who someone else wants me to be or who I think I’m expected to be? Am I saying yes when “no” is my real answer? Or vice versa?

Am I growing older and staying the same?

Does your daily existence suit you?

I spoke to a woman recently who said she was “pretty done here on Planet Earth.” She said didn’t care how much longer she lived.

Yes, a strong statement.

She wasn’t thinking of taking her own life, not at all, but clearly, she was profoundly bored, and feeling limited. She was weary and wasted, done with her day-in, day-out — so over it!

She was, as poet Mary Oliver puts it, “breathing just a little and calling it a life.”

It’s no wonder she had closed the shutters of her heart.

When I believe Eric is “absent” there are times I’m sure I’ve closed the shutters of my heart, too, or that my tears signal a contraction of my heart, or the breaking of my heart, a shutting down, a lessening of light.

But, in truth, my tears don’t signal that.

My heart isn’t breaking. It’s breaking open.

Eric’s change is causing my expansion.

More directly, grief is an invitation to expand.

(In fact, every difficult emotion or transition is an invitation to expand.)

When I’m awake and aware about emotions rolling through me, I notice that fully experiencing a feeling — even if “negative” — actually feels expansive.

Even if I’m “on-my-knees” sad, feeling crushingly tender, if I am willing to feel what I’m feeling, there is a bursting open of my heart.

(Which I must say can sometimes be a little confusing…)

How am I breaking open?

I’m breaking open to understanding how to continue to love and be loved by someone I can’t see.

I’m learning how to be happy without the usual prompts.

How to accept (even celebrate) radical change.

How to move forward into new circumstances, creating a life with new people, new options.


Recently, I spent a couple days with two girlfriends at Lake Lure. It’s only an hour away, but it felt “away” and that was the idea.

The views around Lake Lure are grand (the opening photo is one view). There are steep mountains, expansive lake views and spectacular, wandering clouds. We ate dinner one evening looking up at Chimney Rock (photo at right).

At Lake Lure, the mountains hold you close, the lake smooths you out and relaxes you, and the generous clouds float by to pick up whatever you no longer need.

(How brilliant and supportive is this Mother Nature partner of ours?)

Being water babies for a few days sounded good to us and we went straight to the lake. The water was warm, the sun extra soft that day. As I swam, everything felt so good, so wonderfully sensual, that I felt an unexpected welling up of tears, right there in the middle of mothers and fathers tending to small children wearing water wings.

Even in that small moment, I broke open.

This is what I’m talking about here — that to feel fully what we’re feeling, we dive into the feeling rather than shy away from it. We crack open a little to allow more room for it, whether we’re experiencing pleasure, boredom or “I gotta get outa this place.”

Do you do this, too? How does this opening happen for you? What made you crack open and live a little more fully this week? How did your heart break open? Did you come upon a stuck place and let it free itself and blossom open?

Are you, too, growing older and becoming brand new?



heart break, heart breaking open, In Care of Relationships, Terri Crosby


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