Liz Gilbert had something up on her Facebook the other day about having an open heart. I really, really want to have an open heart. I want to give people free love, no strings attached, to use a Tom Robbins quote my friend Becky sent me the other day. But I also don’t want to go on any stupid roller coaster rides anymore. I’m too old, and I’m a mother, and I just don’t have time. You wait in a 3 hour line for what’s maybe 30 seconds of thrills. And then you’re done. Kicked off the ride. Next! Anti-climactic.
So how do you do this? How do you keep an open heart to people, be willing to let people in, but at the same time not be taken for all you’ve got by manipulative types who are interested in you for only as long as you’re useful to them? I have been asking myself this since I went off to college.
According to Liz, you need to be a wild horse, specifically an alpha mare. Like wolf packs, horses have alphas and every herd of horses has an alpha mare totally in charge – stallions may come and go, but females lead forever. I find this true in humans as well. So basically the other horses take their cues from the alpha mare – oh crap! this just happened? Alpha mare, how should we feel about it? Oh no! This just happened! Alpha mare, what do we do?
Alpha mare is cool and confident, always the boss, and nobody messes with her because she handles her shit and if you’re not careful she’ll handle yours, too. No one wants that. How did alpha mare get this way? Because she doesn’t let herself be influenced by other horses’ fears and anxieties. She doesn’t back down to aggression. She knows what the right thing to do is, and she just does it. She just handles it. She doesn’t ask for anyone’s approval to do it and she doesn’t need your permission. And the reason she doesn’t is because she always acts from a place of integrity and appropriate boundaries. And because she does that, she’s confident and calm. And when alpha mare is confident and calm, so is everybody else.
And THAT’S how you have an open heart: you act from a place of integrity and appropriate boundaries. When you act from that place, you don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission and you are a cool, green jelly bean. ALL THE TIME.
I love this analogy, and it explains so much about almost all of my life and especially the last 4 years of it and especially ESPECIALLY the last year. I spent too much time anxious and worried about how other people feel, what will make other people happy. I spend too much time letting other people’s fears and aggression and mental problems have far too much influence over how I live. And I do this because I lack appropriate boundaries, aka a backbone. I am too nice. Far too nice to people who just say a lot of words and don’t follow through, far too open with people whose integrity does not match my integrity. Because really, I think to say: how I do things and see the world is the one, right way is pretty arrogant and control-y. As long as you aren’t looting, raping, and killing other people; as long as you’re being respectful of other people’s boundaries and are being very upfront and honest at all times, I really don’t think there’s one right or wrong way to live a life. But sometimes I think I’m too open to ways of life that aren’t congruent with who I am or where I’m at in that moment of my life. Does that make sense? In other words, when I keep saying: I need to figure out where I’m going, who I am…I think what I’m actually saying is: I’m worried I’ve become too open to letting other people decide those things for me instead of me deciding for me. And I don’t want that anymore.
I need to be strong, and very brave, going forward. I need to not be afraid of what someone else will think of me when I say: This is not okay for me. This is not who I am or where I’m at right now. I disagree with this. I need to not care about another person’s judgment or disapproval of me and be able to say: This is what matters to me. This is what I believe. This is who I am. I remember hanging out with some high school friends and some new friends they’d made the summer before I started college. The new friends (men) were passing around LSD…I said no. The man who offered me it was really upset and pushy about it. I just said no, no, and no again. It wasn’t for me, I didn’t want that in my body, and absolutely no.
Where did I change? When did I stop feeling the freedom and certainty of mind to say NO like that? Was it when my dad died and I no longer had his watchful eye looking over my shoulder, terrified I’d disappoint him? I have no idea. I just feel like, somewhere, somehow, I took a wrong turn.
I am too constantly worried about losing friends or making someone else sad or feel bad. I am too wrapped up in other people’s opinions of me, when what I really need to just do is be an alpha mare and gallop away from those people, and do what I want. Because they’re responsible for their feelings and opinions not me…and know in my heart that their feelings and opinions ABOUT me have absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.
I actually think I do this supremely well…on this blog, on social media, and in writing and emails. I do not do this very well in person, and this is where my battle lies. Oh, I got a backbone. But not face-to-face. And I think it’s because face-to-face I just want to love you. I don’t want you to be sad or upset. I’m a peacemaker. I want everyone to love everyone.
Except that’s not how the world works. Not everyone can have their cake and eat it, too. And sometimes No needs to be said. No, that’s not going to work for me. No, that’s not what I want. No, that doesn’t honor who I am. No, that’s not going to be one of my goals. No, that’s not where I want to end up. No, I don’t like that kind of food. No, I don’t like those kinds of activities. No, no, no.
And yet I don’t want to become so ramrod strong that I one day find myself closed to YES. Because sometimes it’s important to know when to say yes, too. Also, there would probably be no stories to tell if we all kept saying NO to each other.
…was this too out there? I feel like this was way too navel gaze-y. Gah! There I go again…being a Beta Mare, not an Alpha. SEE?! This is HARD.