An Undefended Heart

Do you long for deeper and more meaningful connections in your
life? Do you yearn to feel more appreciated and cherished?

What does it take for us to really open our hearts and start loving
each other wholeheartedly? I believe that we all just want to love
and be loved, to cherish and be cherished, to desire and be

What is it that makes us have such defended hearts? What is it
that holds us back from really showing and expressing how much
we love each other? I think it’s fear.

Fear that we’re going to be rejected.
Fear that we’ll lose ourselves in the other person.
Fear that our love won’t be reciprocated.
Fear that we’ll lose our freedom.

It’s so much easier to criticise than to praise, to see each other’s
faults more than our strengths. And this leads to further and further detachment.

I struggled with these issues in my 27-year marriage. My husband
died of cancer earlier this year. He had never been a particularly
affectionate or demonstrative person. This was partly cultural, as
he was Japanese, partly the tough experiences he’d had as a child,
and other factors. In contrast, I am a very tactile person who loves
physical affection and words of love. It was challenging for us to
find the balance with each other and we had the classic dance of so
many relationships — one wanting more and one wanting less.

He said I was demanding. I said he was detached. Finally, I learnt
to surrender and let go and just to love and accept him as he
was. He then started to relax. About six years ago, he told me that he felt free for the first time in our relationship. Things
improved between us, but I still wanted more — more love, more
cherishing, more intimacy, more affection. We were also stuck in
the modern struggles of financial stress, both working full-time,
work schedules that didn’t match, raising kids and so on. So hard
to find time to just be together and focus on our relationship!

In his year of struggling with his terminal cancer, he went into
survival mode and detached further. As his carer, I also became
detached. He was convinced he would live. I knew he was going
to die, and I was angry that he wasn’t savouring every damn last
minute with me and the children. Finally, in the last ten days before
he died, I got through to him by telling him that if he died, he
wasn’t going to lose us, that we were going to lose him, because we
would still be in the physical body, in the human experience, mostly
experiencing each other with our five senses. I begged him to write
something for each of us so that we would have some recent words
of his to comfort ourselves with. He agreed.

Now, whenever I walked into his room, he poured love and
gratitude into me. He told me how much he had always loved
me, that he could only have been with me. He told me what a
wonderful mother I am and how happy he was to have kids with
me. It was a relief, but it was also very painful. Why wait until the
end of our lives together to tell each other how much we
mean to each other?

My plea to you is — love your loved ones up every day or as often
as possible. What I know now is that I gave up too easily early
on in our relationship. I believed him, that I was too demanding,
too much. My regret is that I didn’t strive harder to find the
ways around our defences. I know that we were both doing the
best we could with what we had, but I also know that I won’t give
up so easily again. I have learnt that the way to love is with an
undefended heart.

So, how can you cultivate an undefended heart? Focus on what
you love about your partner, your children, your family and
friends, and tell them. Tell them often. Ask for what you want in
positive terms and not through criticism. Express your feelings, both positive and negative. Tell them how you feel, not what you
think. Don’t get hung up on the story. What is it that really
matters to you? Is it really about the dishes? Or is it that you
want to know that you matter to them? Be honest. Don’t pretend.
Don’t perform. Be vulnerable. Be yourself. Show the way by
dropping your armour first. Undefend your heart and others’
hearts will follow suit.

– Filippa Araki, The Compassion Lounge

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.