In the movie, "French Kiss", Kate lives in fear of everything falling apart. And despite all that she does to protect herself, everything still DOES fall apart. But through that tragedy she learns she can survive and she is eventually able to let go of all the things she has set up around herself to protect herself. She realizes that all of that which she had set up had actually prevented her from truly LIVING, and that since you can't actually protect yourself against tragedy, it is better to fully live despite the risks, than to fail to live in an attempt to protect oneself against the inevitable.
The movie resonates with me deeply. Because I had done the same. I had tried hard to surround myself with the "safe", or to protect my heart from more heart-break and loss by being very careful about who I trusted, who I really let in.
The "wisdom" of this exists in the greater culture too. Songs such as "owner of a lonely heart" preach this.
I also saw recently a quote posted on facebook, "Be careful who you trust. The devil was once an angel." And my first reaction was "yes!" After all, the angel I had trusted fell for me during those few years, breaking my heart, breaking trust in a way I could not possibly anticipate. Additionally, loss compounded loss. Broken trust led to more broken trust. And my broken heart was shattered in more than one way.
But sometimes it is only from the most broken shards that we can begin again. Sometimes the break does need to be complete in order for us to begin to build new hearts that are more full of love, more able to survive betrayal, more able to take the risks of trusting, even while knowing that sometimes that trust will be betrayed, and sometimes our hearts will be broken.
"The devil was once an angel." But now, two things occur to me about that.
First, when people are angels, we can't anticipate which ones will become devils. We can't. The only way to protect ourselves then against our angels becoming devils is to trust no one. In other words, again, we can choose to fail to really live, fail to really love, in order to protect ourselves. But we won't succeed in protecting ourselves because life happens even when you don't trust. And in choosing to not trust anyone we will fail to have experiences and build friendships and relationships and connections that do give us life and do build us up and do enrich us and help us grow.
Second, why is it that the angel-that-was became the devil? I wonder if the angel had been loved more, if this would not have happened. No, I'm not so naive anymore as to think that love really conquers ALL. But I think it does conquer a whole lot. Sometimes angels become devils because they aren't loved with the depth and fullness they really need. Sometimes they don't experience enough compassion, enough caring, enough trust to trust fully themselves in such a way as to avoid falling, or at least to minimize it. In other words, we don't just serve ourselves by taking the risk of loving and trusting. We also serve those around us by choosing to invest in people, trusting them with our openness, our love, our honesty, and our care.
Is it still hard? Is it still risky? Will we be hurt? Yes, Yes and YES! It is hard and risky and we WILL be hurt when we make the choice to trust people. But life is hard and risky and we will also be hurt if we don't trust people. And personally, I'd rather live and love fully, taking the risks and suffering the cost, than choose to not live and love at all.