There is a cardiologist in California who asks this question to his patients at every appointment. It appears to be a pretty standard question, but it is actually a super personal question if you think about it. In a cardiologist’s office this question gets to diet, stress level, exercise, and amount of sleep. However, if you’ve ever watched an epidsode of House, you know that people aren’t always the most honest in the doctors office. To really get at the true status of a patients heart, a cardiologist runs a stress test. The way your heart responds under pressure is the most accurate picture of your heart’s health.
Stress brings out the truth about your heart’s status; but not just our physical heart.
It’s so easy in daily life to put on the facade of being great. When everything is easy and peaceful, we can convince ourselves and others that the state of our hearts are double-rainbows and unicorn happiness. But what happens when your life gets hard, complicated, and messy? How do you respond? And what does that say about the state of your heart.
I’ve always considered myself to be super open; to a fault perhaps. My best friend once said that one of my weaknessess was not protecting my heart well enough. I didn’t mind though, I wore my heart on my sleeve with pride. Convinced that anyone in my life deserved privleges to all of me.
Then my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer last year.
Last July/August, when I was waiting for test results from my mom’s colon cancer diagnosis… I shut down in a lot of ways; and I wonder now how much that says about the state of my heart. I was definitely not open to people; I did everything in my power to avoid talking about it. I waited weeks to tell my best friend, because she was a friend who KNEW my mother; she wouldn’t let me get away with not talking. Maybe my heart isn’t as open as I thought it was.
So, here’s what I decided: there is a part of me heart that is deeply afraid to rely on most people to understand the complexity of the pain that I carry with me. The “stress test” I went through last year told me that my heart has grown to be protective and selective, but that doesn’t mean I am avoiding everything all the time. If the issue with my mom’s cancer was JUST cancer?
I would have been fine; but it wasn’t. The diagnosis required a quick and magnified focus on the relationship I have with my mom. The painful parts. The parts I don’t talk about 99% of the time, because talking about them hurts like hell. This is a part of me that is not meant to be shared with everyone. However, there is no part about the pain I carry that isn’t known by someone else. Everything about me does not need to be known by everyone, but everything about me needs to be known by somebody. Sharing everything with everyone is probably a good thing to grow out of. I told my best friend eventually and we talked about all of it and I made sure to find someone here to talk to also.