One of my friends, a former heart surgeon, wrote to me about Constrictive Pericarditis. This means there is scar tissue around the heart like clamps which are constricting it. An inflammation causes the covering of the heart to become thick and rigid, making it hard for the heart to stretch properly when it beats. As a result, the heart chambers don’t fill up with enough blood. This condition prevents the heart muscle from expanding and instead tightens the muscle. A heart surgeon would have to do surgery and dissect away the scar tissue that is squeezing the heart.
I think about this heart condition as a metaphor that serves to describe my resistance to others, my dislike of them that tightens up my thoughts and feelings towards them. I am mentally, emotionally squeezing my heart and not allowing it to expand. It is very much like saying, “I don’t want to make room for you.” I become rigid and inflexible. I tell any story I can to keep this miserable-tale alive. I excuse my behavior, even it if means blaming them for causing the pain and heartache I feel.
I am numb and don’t even know I am doing that. It is as if I am in a daze as I systematically put clamps in place one by one, sometimes so unconsciously, I don’t even let myself notice them. However, every clamp has limited my love, joy, and spontaneity. I have squeezed the life out of my heart.
So, what is the surgery that will help at a time like this?
What is a compassionate way to begin to loosen the clamps?
If you have noticed a tightening of thoughts or feelings to someone in your life, here is one way I have found to loosen the clamps: Bring someone to mind that you truly respect and trust. Hold them and all they mean to you in your heart. Appreciating them, create a little breathing space and feel some relief.
Then begin to look through their eyes at the uncomfortable relationship. Wonder and consider what they might see that a constricted heart has been missing?
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