The evening air was cooler than normal for a June evening, the sky was a bit bleak with big heavy clouds slumbering slowly east. I decided that going anywhere to eat outside wasn’t going to be smart, a thunderstorm was going to eventually hit the area. One of the things I actually like about Connecticut’s rivers and Long Island sound shoreline is that there are places to eat outside. Tonight I went to my old standby, Red Lotus.
Red Lotus sits in a shopping mall, a few doors down from Stop ‘n Shop. It has an inviting interior where the lighting is low, big half- moon booths on one side of the dining area and beautiful mosaic glass bar tucked in the corner. Larry and Mia, the owners, are generally there all of the time, seating people, overseeing the sushi chefs and pouring drinks at the bar. They are hospitable and friendly and make you feel as if you are there 6 nights per week. I feel like I am home there, treated well and comfortable eating alone.
I hadn’t been in a while and with the impending storm I decided that made sense. It is also next door to a really nice Dress Barn. I know, Dress Barn! But this one actually has a nice selection of really well made dresses and jackets, I have shopped in there often since I have been working in Connecticut.
I sat at the bar and was greeted immediately by Mia with a hug. She recognized I hadn’t been there in a while. That was true. I had been meeting friends out for dinner and heading more toward New Haven of late. I like the array of restaurants there and the anonymity that comes with being out of the area. Too many a night have I run into a group of people from my company. I need down time when I am at dinner, not needing to put on a pretense or pretend to enjoy the never ending work conversation.
As Mia walked away, here came Larry. First a hug and peck on the cheek and then a generous pour of the Pinot Grigio that I was drinking. Larry is the perfect host at times, with his ability to talk to you and ask you questions as if he really was interested and listening and at the same time, make you feel as if he really knows you. As we were talking, he asked why I was alone, where was my partner? I laughed and told him I haven’t had a partner in a very long time, in fact I really don’t date.
He looked up at me and very naturally said, “you need to open your heart up first, then he will come.”
I sat there stunned that he would use those words, and know that my heart is so shut it actually is hurting me these days. He saw that I was stunned and he looked right at me and said, “you are a beautiful intelligent woman, you need to open your heart and let people in.” I really don’t know how he knew that I was shut down, I didn’t even realize it until lately.
As you have all read, I have dealt with the idea of living with an open heart for so long. That is my natural and authentic way to live, but I have been hurt and crushed so many times that right now it is just closed off. I am so fearful of being crushed again and not being able to recover that I would rather be distant, and more like Teflon.
I do know that is not healthy for me nor is living like that a happy way to live. I have so much love in my heart to give, I know keeping locked up isn’t something I can sustain and still be happy in life. Right now there is little joy in my life and a lot of pain in my heart. I thought I was masking that to others, the way I have so many times in my life. I have been so good at not letting people in, not letting anyone know the struggle and pain, but I guess I am really not fooling anyone except me.
Larry knew I had locked up my heart and was closed to anyone trying to get in. And that is someone who sees me 2 to 3 times per month for 1 hour of eating sushi and having a glass of wine. I can’t be hiding my pain very well.
His words made me realize that I need to do something to push through this pain, and begin to live authentically again, with an open, loving heart. This has become a self -fulfilling prophecy, I lock up my heart and let no one in, I end up alone, which is my greatest fear in life. But I have done that all on my own. I isolated myself, said no to invitations to get together with people sounding so busy. I sit home in tears watching my world go by.
I don’t even have my heart open to myself, being loving to me, taking care of me.
As I recall this night with Larry, I realize that I need to change this dynamic and get back to Suzy, with the loving beautiful heart that I am so very proud of. I have had it crushed so many times in different ways, always being able to put it back together and continue to love. Each time I put it back together I am changed from who I was before, but I am still always the loving person I actually like.
It is time to put it back together again and start to open my heart again. I am done living as a prisoner of my fears, my doubts and my hurts.