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Fortress Around Your Heart

Names changed to protect the humans

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.”

—William Goldman, The Princess Bride

We're drawn to people because of how they're different from us and how they're the same as us. Because they show us some quality we're wanting more of in our own lives. Because we recognize ourselves in them. Because our own unique ways of being crazy match up with theirs in ways that teach us more about who we already are and who we want to become. And once we're drawn, we can't be undrawn until we figure all that out and start to manifest it on our own.

I fell for Misha before I even met him. Before I even saw him (although when I did see him, I was glad I was alone...once-in-a-lifetime stunningly beautiful men always make me blush). Before I even had one single reason to—I just heard his energy as soon as he pointed it at me, and it resonated at just the right frequency and that was it, I was cooked. Everything else was just playing out the game. I fell like a teenager. I fell like it was the very first time. Every single door of my heart didn't just open, it evaporated as if it had never been.

He decided he did not want to find out if he wanted me back. Or...something. I'll never know. It's none of my business.

“Eh, that happens all the time,” a beautiful Russian friend said, sighing mournfully with the understanding born of a thousand lifetimes of regrets.

“It doesn't happen to me,” I thought. I file men under one of three headings: men I've slept with, men I haven't slept with yet, and men I turn down. The possibility of a fourth category flummoxed me and I had to scrounge back into my college days to remember it.

Because my heart had cast aside all protective insulation and armor, it was totally defenceless, and when it broke, it broke like that of a teenager. Like it was the very first time. And that all this got accomplished in just a few weeks must be some sort of world record. The last guy who broke my heart took sixteen years to do it! ….But Misha is beyond-the-bell-curve in many ways.

The murky energy and unclean fracturing he left behind kept me wondering, “why?” in exactly the way women must never wonder. The way that has no good answer and only makes you unhappy and unattractive. I hated myself for wondering. It was none of my business. There was no answer that would make me happy, and coming up with postulates would just prolong my misery.

The wondering kept me from healing and moving on. I simply could not fathom a world in which it was humanly possible for him not to want to get to know me and go on some kind of journey with me, Destination Unknown! I was stuck.

Also he kept yelling something very important but inarticulate, and, once I had been attuned to his frequency, it was so very, very loud, I could hardly hear anything else! No matter where he was (and he likes to be many places), I heard that energetic restriction demanding my attention, insisting on it, blotting out everything else with its deafening knotted-up-ness. “WHAT,” I wanted to snap at it, like a tired mother at a two-year-old pulling on her pants and wailing. ….As a xin-worker, I often see people's xins as entities belonging to the personalities that run them, that get brought in to me for work like people bringing their animals to the vet. I never met a xin I didn't love, although I know plenty of personalities who leave me cold. ….I took pity on this poor xin, in so much pain from its knots. I softened. “I can't help you, you know,” I said to it. “He doesn't want me in his life, and you belong to him. You can't do anything without him choosing it.” It kept yelling. “Maybe I can help you...a little,” I said to it. When an off-duty vet sees a wild hare limping along with a broken leg, he sets the leg. It's the way things are. We can't not.

But at the same time, we can only meet people where they are. They have to go through their own process, whatever that looks like, and we can't force our hopes and ideas onto that process. We can offer the possibility of healing, but it's their choice what they want to do with our offering.

In the meantime, as my own healing process took a step forward, then a step back, then a two steps forward, then five thousand steps back, and so on, I was asking myself that same horrible question that I have been trained never, ever to ask: “why?” A useless, pointless, dangerous question that only gets you in trouble and never has an answer. I thought I had mastered the art of not asking why...but it turns out, I had not yet begun to learn! In my heart, over and over again, I kept asking, why this man? Of all the men out there, why this one and not some other one? Why such a catastrophic effect in so little time? He is, in himself, innocent and harmless. Why such calamity, Jane?

My first answer was that he was a Grade A artistic catalyst and God apparently wanted me to get something done. A good answer.

Then time went by and I still wasn't over him and I wondered, the other monk set him down as soon as we crossed the river, why am I still carrying him (I assume you all know this Zen parable)? ….I decided I was still carrying him because I had something to learn or take from him. I reminded myself that we seek balance in the beloved, so whatever his dominant trait was was probably whatever I wanted more of in myself. I looked at his cardinal characteristic. Superbrilliance. In xin-work school, they teach us this handy but unnervingly accurate rule of thumb: “if you can spot it, you got it.” ….And I realized that as soon as he'd come into my life, he had reawakened a side of me that was getting insufficient validation. I had spent the last few years sinking deeply, deeply, and yet more deeply into an endless sea of somatic spiritualism, sinking my consciousness into my body, learning how to feel and be and leave my head behind. I had come to view my head as a bad place to be, oh, I'm in my head, fifty lashes with a wet noodle, we should never be there.

But at the height of my body-and-spirit-oriented process, here was a not-so-gentle wake-up jab: don't devalue the thing that makes you really special, Jordana! God broke the mold when he made me, which is 100% not a helpful thing and is usually a really hard cross to bear. But it's the way things are. I can't change them. He gave me a beautiful mind. It brings me suffering, pain, and hardship. But...apparently it wanted to be loved again, because here I was, loving that quality in someone else! And as soon as someone came along saying, “brain,” my brain took off the corset I didn't know I'd been tightening around it, and it flourished and blossomed and breathed deeply and came back into its own. And I realized...when I needed to get into my body, I was drawn to body people. Now it's time to integrate my brain back in and celebrate it for the unique one it is, and let it do what it needs to do. So I was drawn to a brain person.


So why was I still suffering and grieving and feeling absolutely no resolution at all? Why was he acting the way he was—which is always the Devil's question, sent from Hell to torment us? Why was I still acting the way I was (i.e., getting all in my head and being wounded and hurt on an absurdly out-of-proportion scale)?

Why was I still wondering why?

Then, there, in my pranayama mentor's office, it all came clear why.

His most dominant characteristic was not superbrilliance. It was that yelling, screaming, deafening energetic restriction that woke me up from hundreds of miles away. It was his distancing from himself.

It was the fortress around his heart.

That was what was really upsetting me! It hurt me as a me, because it kept to him the thing I wanted him to open up and share with me on a personal level. And it hurt me as a xin-worker, because I really, really wanted to help. But most of all, it hurt me because...if you can spot it, you got it.

When he left, my mother thousands of miles away saw the moment in her mind's eye, as it happened, when it happened, without having been told one single iota of information in advance, without even having known there was a man. She asked me about it later. Yep, Mom, all details accurate. (It runs in the family.) Why was I so upset I projected the moment halfway across the country?

Because in the root-entanglement theory of sociology, I am my neighbour. So if this man does something, in a way, I'm doing it. And the central theme of my life was the fortress around my heart! —I had told him he had made an art form out of masterfully building his life up around his fortress. And the exact same thing was true of me. I had taken the fortress as the starting point and made every single grain of life-sand into an elaborate mandala around the fortress. I had given my whole life to this pursuit. And now, please, I was begging him, I was begging myself...a lifetime with this fortress, this is the wrong direction to be going in, lock the doors with more padlocks and you will keep suffering forever. I do not want to live with a fortress around my heart, but I do live thus, and seeing someone else manifesting their own fortress in front of my eyes brought my attention to the central painful truth of my own life.

What kind of healer is there other than a wounded one?

“You seem very expressive and open, Jordana,” she said. “But actually, you're really not. In all the time we've spent together, you almost never talk about your inner feelings. You never Go There. It's almost like you're expressive and sparkly on purpose to draw people's attention away from the fact that, really, you're not telling them very much at all. You hold a lot of important stuff back. You have a lot of secrets, don't you.”

Hole in one.

I cried. I had assumed that life was an endless dance of pain and healing from pain, for everybody. Wasn't that the case? I rolled myself into a little egg, and cried more and more, as my life passed through me exactly the way a bug's butt passes through its head when it splatters on a windshield. A lifetime's worth of abandonment and pain, concentrated into a few minutes. “Every single thing I do is therapy,” I said. “Every single choice I have made in my adult life is therapy.”

There must be a lot of pain there, to have devoted your entire life to dealing with it, she mused.

I cried more and she put her hand on my back. And I was terrified, because I felt the energy of my body reaching out around her hand and grabbing it and holding it to me, and I knew, from having read many many Cosmopolitans and from having been around many men, that the A#1 surefire way to make anybody run screaming in the opposite direction is to exhibit neediness. “If she feels me grabbing her hand, she's not going to love me any more. She's going to go away and leave me alone,” I panicked, while I cried. I had devoted so much craft into becoming a skilled nondisplayer of neediness! I had, in fact, built up a whole way of living specifically so that I would not feel neediness and therefore not exhibit it, because it's so bloody unattractive.

But she did not leave. She stayed with me. I decided to Ortho-Bionomy my neediness. Go into it instead of denying it. “Please don't leave me,” I whispered under my breath, petrified, in a new place where I had never been before.

Nobody had ever come into the dark side of my heart and sat there with me before. The dark side is not for sharing. Nobody ever gets to see it, ever. Because if they see it, then they will go away. I go away, and it's my own heart! I know human nature. I know what it's like to be around darkness. It's no fun. I leave as soon as I can, and I expect the same of everybody else.

But she did not leave. And for the first time in my whole life, I was not alone in the dark side of my heat. I did not have to be there on my own. “Stay with me,” I whispered, a tiny, inaudible plea.

Part of the defining characteristic of the dark side of my heart was that it was a place only I could go. Just as the light side was the side for sharing, the dark side had the fortress around it specifically so that I could make my way through life in a literally physically sustainable way. The fortress was there for everybody's protection and well-being. If someone else came inside the fortress, suddenly its definition was, in part, voided, because a “truth” had been proven false. The aloneful darkness suddenly had someone else there, a benign someone who just wanted to help. And once this had happened, every other search parameter had to be reassessed, as what had been a static state of lock-down now admitted the possibility of....


And I knew right away that if I kept my dark heart locked up in its fortress, I would be protected from it, I would live a sustainable life, and it would never bother anybody...and I would suffer forever. I knew that the only way forward, the only way to really get out of my own way and allow myself to become the person I really am, would be to, bit by bit, start to at least try to dismantle the defence mechanisms of a lifetime in order to integrate both halves of my heart. I would only be able to act authentically once I learned to act from my whole heart. Everything in my life has been moving toward now it's time for the hardest possible dance lesson of my life. It's time to integrate my heart.