Niamh Ennis: ‘The deep grief and loss I’d experienced had closed me off from actually allowing love in’
How many of us think that because we have been hurt once, we will get hurt again?
I wrote an article recently, on why I had so willingly jumped on board the cacao-drinking train, mostly due to its renowned “heart-opening” qualities. I knew it’d raise some eyebrows but what I didn’t realise when I referenced my own need to let love in, was just how much it would resonate with so many people. It clearly struck a chord.
How many of us who have experienced abandonment at some point in our lives believe it will happen again? How many of us have felt bullied, targeted, different, isolated and just wanted to feel the same as everyone else? How many of us have had someone walk out on our lives and not look back and we vow to never let anyone do that to us again? How many of us know the pain of grief and loss and find ourselves worrying that it’ll happen to more people that we love?
I wondered, how, when something life-changing, traumatic or difficult happens to us, that we, quite cleverly, organise things to avoid a recurrence. We carefully put structures in place, often unconsciously that we believe will keep us safe from any future pain or hurt.
And in truth, it works. For a while at least.
Fences don’t make good neighbours
The fences we erect between us and others reduce the risk of being hurt or feeling that sense of loss again. Hiding ourselves mean that we avoid those occasions where we might risk further damage or sadness. By blocking others out, we feel we are taking the best care of us and our hearts. Which sounds good, right?
But what we don’t fully grasp is that when we do this, we also close our hearts off to the joy of loving and of being loved. I’ve shared before, that some time ago I declared I was going to focus on my own heart. I saw that I needed to work not just on my ability to love but my capacity to allow myself to be loved.
I recognised that the deep grief and loss I’d experienced had closed me off from actually allowing love in.
I’d truly disconnected from my heart, from love, and while I could see that it had successfully protected me from pain, its absence had left me really wanting more from my life.
I wanted to tell people how I felt and not to worry about being too much. I wanted to be vulnerable, to not be so scared of letting others know how terrified I was. I wanted to be able to show them who I really was, to express myself as I really am and not be afraid that they would reject me. I wanted to stop being who they expected me to be and to start being myself. I just wanted to be loved for being me.
To get there a lot of healing needed to happen. It required a significant amount of effort on my part and I won’t pretend it was easy. Not everything I tried worked but the thing is I did try everything.
I took a step back from all that was familiar in my life. Every day I journaled. I did a lot of breathwork, visualisations, affirmations and Reiki. For the first time in my life, I found incredible comfort in nature amongst the trees. I parked my cynical self and opened my stubborn mind to new ways of thinking and new ways of being. I made a very conscious choice to let whatever change needed to happen, happen.
Slowly the walls started to come down. And it was slow because every so often I’d panic about being so vulnerable, worry about how it would look and the walls would go back up again.
I learned how to forgive myself even more than I was able to forgive others.
I focused more on the ways I was trying to do better than the shortcomings I knew I was guilty of.
I was patient with myself and I gave myself as much time as I needed. I began to observe, that the less guarded I became, the more love started to flow naturally into my life.
When I reconnected with the heart inside me, that same heart that has never once stopped beating for me, everything became possible.
I learned to embrace the people who let me feel so deeply and became so much more aware of all of the reasons I have to feel so grateful for having them and allowing them in my life. I learned how to love myself and in so doing I allowed others to love me too.
So think about knocking down your own walls and letting love back in to your life. You’ll feel so much the better for it. Think about all that you have to gain and remember that how you love yourself is how you teach others to love you. So start there. Always start there.
Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Transformation Coach. She works with women who feel disconnected from themselves and helps them bridge that gap between how they show up in the world and who they really are inside. Niamh is hosting a very special online workshop RECONNECT in April. To find out more click here.