Finding out that I need open heart surgery has opened my heart

I think that I have always known that life offers us opportunities to learn. I know that this belief became stronger as I studied psychology in college and graduate school.

And I am certain that over the past 12 years, this belief has become even stronger and it has become apparent that the opportunities to learn these lessons keep surfacing until we actually learn the lesson. Freud referred to this phenomenon as “repetition compulsion”. Eastern philosophy accepts this idea as a part of the evolution of the being.

With that understanding, I have been both participating in my life events of the past several months and trying to step into the observer role on occasion in order to take in the power of the changes in my life. This blog has made that process easier.

So what have I noticed? First, I have noticed that I say the word heart much more frequently than I would have guessed. “Touched my heart”, “melted my heart”, “does my heart good”, etc. It’s sort of like when I realized I process primarily visually, I became aware that I pictured things before describing them, talked about seeing rather than hearing a message, etc.

I have noticed that things do touch my heart more easily. I cry more easily and laugh more heartily. I have always been very observant, but that seems to have increased. I am much more aware of emotional fluctuations in those around me. And my already relatively transparent emotional processes have become even more transparent. You know the stereotypical therapist who maintains a passive expression, even blank, while in the session? That has never been me. In fact, I recall a colleague in graduate school advising me to stop trying to maintain an emotionless face in therapy because it just looked pained and uncomfortable.

Even my Facebook “likes” have changed. Prior to the news that I should definitely have surgery to repair the aortic aneurysm and possibly replace my aortic valve, I worked out 5 to 6 days per week with routine and some measure of obsessiveness. My interests on Facebook were primarily related to fitness, diet, and bodybuilding. Following that news, the recommendations that I alter my workouts radically, and my shoulder injury (which is nowhere near healed), I could no longer stand to see all of the news and posts about bodybuilding (an activity I had grown to love) and have since chosen not to receive those posts.

Instead, I have found the spiritual, philosophical, and visually beautiful sites to populate my Facebook feed.

I have also found that my sensitivity to noise, strong emotions (particularly hostility), and violent images has become magnified. I appreciate kindness, compassion, and acceptance more. I have found myself drawn to those in my environment who embody these traits and repulsed by those who do not. I have less patience for sarcasm, intolerance, and negativity – though I understand that these characteristics are a part of our world and that ultimately I must accept them.

I have always stopped to smell the roses, but now I do so more frequently. While walking the dogs the other day, the dogs who stop to smell EVERYTHING became impatient with me because I wanted to stop and smell roses along our path. I found it quite amusing.

Nearly two weeks ago, I began noting each day my feelings of gratitude. Last weekend I moved those to this blog (Gratitude Day by Day page). Taking a few moments every day to note the living beings and situations in my life for which I feel gratitude has allowed me to start each day with appreciation. That appreciative view has given me new eyes at work, at home, and at play.

But what is the lesson? What am I to learn from all of this? I guess it really just comes down to one thing. Finding out that I need open heart surgery has opened my heart.

3 thoughts on “Finding out that I need open heart surgery has opened my heart

  1. I have no idea what this must be like for you. When I imagine being in the same situation, I think my behaviors would look the same, but the underlying reasons would be different. I’d be thinking every day could be “the day” when something goes wrong, so I better squeeze everything out of it. I’d be counting down to the surgery thinking that there is a healthy probability that I would not wake up from it. I’d be looking for the most arrogant, self-absorbed, a-hole surgeon to do it because THAT guy, even if he is a dick, would go to extreme measures to keep me alive because he won’t tolerate a tick mark in the “lost” column. Totally understand the Facebook thing, though. I’ve made some changes to avoid drama from popping up all the time. On a low carb day last week, I almost hid everyone except my husband. (Ate and got over it.)

    • Thankfully I now know that only about 7 – 10% drop over spontaneously with this issue and they are mainly out of shape smokers. Only about 1% don’t survive the surgery and they are mainly overweight, out of shape smokers. So my day to day concerns are less dramatic. However, it does change my life perspective. Small things really are just small things now. And friends like you are even more cherished. 🙂

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