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    Abandonment Part 2: CARDIOPLASTICITY

           Neuroplasticity is a buzz word in the field of neurology. It states that the mind is perfectly capable of creating new neural pathways at any age. At any point in our lives, new experiences can create neural “re-wiring”. Therefore, we are not “hard wired” by adolescence, as previously believed. The mind, both consciously and non-consciously, can learn to think differently. In other words, we can literally change our minds.
            The same holds true for the heart. No matter how old we are, profound experiences can shift us emotionally and spiritually. If the heart was closed but is now open, we literally “feel different”. Our attitude shifts and our emotional experience of life expands. This literal change of heart impacts our lives in amazing ways. It happened to me. It can happen to anybody. So I’m coining a new phrase: Cardioplasticity.
            I used to equate love with pain. Whenever I started falling in love with a woman, the inner turmoil was unbearable. I experienced so much anxiety and fear of abandonment, that I eventually retreated to a place inside myself that was safer. I felt so absolutely out of control emotionally that I had to do something. Because if she knew how out of kilter I was, she wouldn’t like me anymore. I couldn’t let her know how nuts I felt inside. How scared I was. Because nuts and scared is ugly. So to share this with her would be the kiss of death.
            Because all of these fears came true with my first girlfriend. More than once. And that was all the proof I needed, thank you very much. But really, it goes back much further than that. It goes back to my original wound of abandonment. My experience from day one was that to love with all your heart, the only way a child knows how, was synonymous with abandonment. And to be left was to suffer unbearable pain. So don’t ever love with all your heart. It could kill you.
            When I was a kid, feeling and expressing love was a mostly unpleasant experience. I experienced a constant yearning that was met with only sporadic episodes of joy. Or even more rarely, bliss. And when that joy and bliss came, it was so unpredictable and short lived that I learned to expect it to end soon. And it did. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
            In adulthood, I learned how to get love without risking too much. I learned how to give love without leaving my flanks exposed. This wasn’t a conscious plan or a calculated scheme. This was autopilot emotional survival. Which isn’t to say that I’m not responsible for it.
            I honed an ability to pull away emotionally, just enough to stay safe, but not enough to lose her or drive her away. Because abandonment was still the overriding fear. I gave love, but I never gave it all. It was a psycho-emotional tight rope that I walked so that I could love, be loved, be safe, be in control, and not be abandoned. And like anything practiced, I got good at it.
            I never grasped the truism that love is something you get more of, the more you give away. The key was to give more. Not try to get more.
            That formula got lost on me. Because I was getting what I wanted: love, sex, and companionship, without giving away the store. And because I was coming from my head most of the time then. “Give to get” just didn’t make any sense from there.
            The only place that I gave everything I had was in the bedroom. That was the only place I felt safe. That was the only place I really knew who I was and what I was doing. Because my guard was down between the sheets, all of me came out there. All the love, all the passion, all the wonder, intensity, playfulness, and excitement. I just couldn’t carry that over into the rest of my relationship.
            Until we become conscious of what we’re doing, we keep repeating ourselves. We develop coping skills and strategies to minimize the fear and the pain. But we’re always missing something. We’re missing true intimacy. That was me.
            Operative word there is “was”. Thanks to cardioplasticity, I’m not there anymore. I still struggle with abandonment, but I’m aware of it now. More importantly, I know, not just intellectually but in my heart, that the way out of that abandonment pain is to go through it. Not around it. Or over it. Or past it. The way out is always through.

    ©2008 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a stupifying amount of Wrongs) Reserved.

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    Reader Comments (1)

    Wow. Well your blog certainly is helping get into the male mind and help me understand why the Frak do they DO that. Hm. Got to approach this topic with compassion instead of judgement. A guy I met recently said to me "I can't get close to a woman though I really want to. I don't want to get hurt again." By not allowing himself to open up to how he was feeling about the object of his affections he ended up driving her away with jealousy, control, and cold shoulder. Hardly the energy to create true intimacy tho he was very good at the art of SEDUCTION (he could attract a lover) when it came time to put his money where his mouth is, he could NOT allow intimate moments, only shallow interpretations of what he thought was expected which ended up grossly disappointing both parties (so I was told). Sad.

    November 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterer-eee-kaaaaa

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