Thursday, March 21, 2013

Heart Attack

The heart and the brain always seem to disconnect from each other when we need them to communicate the most - and not just in times of trouble.   When we fall in love, our heart is so full of light, it flutters around like a disoriented butterfly.  It completely ignores our brain's warnings or cautionary tales.   "Don't fall too fast!   Keep yourself safe, silly heart!  Remember what happened last time!"  For those of us who are lucky enough to have found our great love, it's a good thing our heart didn't listen!  In love, our heart really knows us best.  Our brain wants what's best, but it can't process the illogical nonsense that love stirs up inside us.   The crazy churning of emotion that fills us with excitement and reservation and fear and courage all at the same time.  There is a very true statement that goes "When you know, you know."  If you have to question whether you are feeling love, you aren't.   At least not yet.  Love is unmistakable and all-consuming.   So, we listen to our heart when it comes to love.  We tell our brain to shut it.  We won't let its analytical detours steer our car away from our desired destination because usually, our brain isn't really sure of where we are supposed to be going.

In times of grief, things are slightly different.  In grief, our logical brain is our best friend.  It understands the situation and how to move through it efficiently and with the least amount of pain.   The problem is our brain is very quiet in its direction - and our heart screams in agony, drowning out everything else.   Our brain is like the less than assertive parent unable to do anything while their child throws an all out tantrum on the floor of Target.  The child screams and cries.   She writhes and kicks.  Tears stream from her cheeks.  Fists pound on the floor.   People are staring and judging, but what can you do?  With many tantrums, sometimes you just have to ride it out.  So, that's what our brain does.  It simply rides it out.  Our heart is broken and moaning on the floor.   It won't listen to reason.   It refuses to believe anything logical.  It just wants to feel.  It can't do anything but feel.  It feels flaming anger and resentment.  It feels unbearable sorrow and despair.  It feels guilt, painful and sharp.  It feels everything all at once, its cries piercing through us like shards of glass.  Our heart doesn't listen to our brain because it can't.   

My brain understands that what happened was not my fault.   My brain knows that there was nothing that could have been done in the days leading up to Kenley's death.  My brain tells my heart that my crushing guilt is false and I should ignore it.  I know these things, but I don't feel them.  My heart is still broken and bleeding.   It is still screaming on the floor and it won't listen to reason.   It hurts.  Dear God, it hurts!  I can't separate the logic from the pain.  I can't stop my heart from crying out "You should have known!   You should have done something!  Why...Why did you let this happen?"  My brain stands by silently.  Whispering, quietly and calmly, "You didn't do this.  This wasn't because of you."   But it's like the sound of a gentle breeze lost in the roar of a raging river.   Eventually, like the toddler in Target, my heart will cry itself out.  It will stop making so much noise and I'll be able to hear the soft advice from my brain.  I'll be able to actually listen to what it is saying to me.  Just not right now.      

Like our brain can't process love, our heart can't process grief.   It's too much for them.  They can't handle it.   I suppose it's a good thing, then, that we have both, so that at least one of them can guide us through whatever we may face, but it sure would be nice if they could help each other out a little more.   Maybe then, we all wouldn't be such a mess all the time.

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