A blossom opens, held by extended hands. Three drops of blood drip down.
Opening to another is a key transition in the progress of emotional intimacy. We expose our pain, our inner turmoil, our regrets, our fears, letting them gush forth heedlessly and unguardedly. We've passed the stage of smiles and kindnesses, and are now ready to let down our barriers. Being open is a delicate choice, and timing is crucial. Our world would become emotionally overloaded if everyone opened emotionally all the time. We would be paralyzed in a maelstrom of strong feelings, unable to navigate the needs of the day and maintain our sense of composure. As children, we learn that the uninhibited expression of emotions is not always appropriate, that others expect restraint from us, and we should not bombard them with feelings.
The message, alas, can be taken too much to heart, leaving us fearful of opening up under any circumstances, locking our feelings in a permanent internal cage. But release and sharing is an essential part of cycling emotions through the psyche. If we never open to others, our feelings can become poisonous and impossible to manage. Good parents welcome emotional opening from their children, teaching them that although it may not always be well received in the outside world, the home and family is an environment where it is safe and healing to open. As adults, we can recreate the safe environment of the home for each other, allowing intimacy to grow.
In our goal-focused culture, emotional opening may become confused with asking for advice or support. Opening is not about enlisting the other in solving our problems. The role of the other is simply to provide a safe space, to let the emotions flow forth and wash over us, recognizing and acknowledging them, but not trying to clasp them or change them. It is the release that matters, and release makes its own healing. In fact, attempts to solve the problem or make the other happy may actually be detrimental, as they send the subtle message that the expressed feelings are bad and need to be replaced with better ones, which may imply that the listener would rather not deal with the emotions as they are, and is uncomfortable with the act of opening.
Opening is not about doing, it is about allowing...allowing the natural flow of feeling to wash through, unhampered. By allowing ourselves to open, and by allowing others to open to us, we make the spaces between us safe havens, grottos where love may blossom.