We are familiar with how a callous develops right? Repeated chafing on a tender spot and the skin grows a protective hardened layer. A recent tragedy has had me contemplating deeply… I’m pretty certain that my heart is nurturing a callous, stemmed from repeated exposure to grief. I don’t want to give the pretence of a hard life when I am utterly blessed, but I am on a journey to better my understanding of the complicated human I seem to be… and I have a heart–callous that’s preventing “me” from coming through. I don’t believe I myself am a callous soul (well, I should hope not) – rather I am beginning to recognise a change in my response to grief – from the person I recall myself to be at a time I remember – before I delved into an eating disorder, when everything became fuzzy and days were a blur.
I hate to sound like a right old drama queen, but for as young as I am; I’ve had my heart broken too many times to count. I’ve always loved hard.. the problem with loving hard? Hurting hard. And at some point in life, as long as you love – you’re bound to hurt. First was my Gran, the only grandparent I was blessed to have met in my lifetime. When I lost her, it felt as though the grief was insurmountable to overcome. A similar sensation with my instructor/therapist/mother-figure. Yet time heals wounds of the heart, but not without leaving a scar.
All the creatures! To other humans they were just pets, just animals. To me? A soul is a soul. Once you connect and bond, there’s no looking back. At least that’s the way it was. Glimpses of our lives entwined flash before my eyes.. it’s all just a memory, but the stab of pain in my heart is fresh and vivid. With animals it’s even more of a delicate, unpredictable situation; your heart is at stake on the constant. By the chance of a eagle stealing my adopted hand-raised starling “son” as its lunch when he follows his “Mama” on an outride … by my old boy J rearing up in play and hooking his foreleg in the iron gate, and I feel every ounce of pain as he screams in terror and thrashes wildly, my heart shattering into a million pieces as I watch helplessly… by a dog attacking my orphaned lamb and having to acknowledge the painful reality of the only option being euthanizing… by the bull calves I reared and bottle-fed to be overcome by hormones and suddenly too lethal to be around… by the time I was brought to bid goodbye to a solid friendship, having become too weak to handle such magnificent strength. I loved with devotion, only to be broken.. I loved again, and broke again… and again. Then I stopped loving with such an intensity, my heart built up its protective layer.. now even when it loves, it doesn’t give it all away. I don’t exactly feel as though I’ve got a say in the matter. However, I am suddenly strangely aware of my internal battles. At a recent passing of a family member, I felt like a pillar of strength amongst the grieving. But I was hurting of course – a notably lesser degree than I am accustomed to. It’s almost like I’ve grieved myself out.. cried myself dry, and have succeeded in convincing my mind of the hidden goodness in every tragedy.
I wouldn’t have been too concerned, but with my instinctive detachment from both humans and animals (the warning signs engraved in my brain: love, but be careful) is resulting in a gaping feeling deep inside. I am stepping out of the shadows of my eating disorder, and the heart wants to love.. wants to connect. But the callous has grown tough and resilient; a firm reminder of what grief feels like.