Have you ever heard a song that hits right to the core and speaks straight to the heart? It’s happened to me a few times and last night was one of those magical times. I was sitting in my car with a few minutes to spare before I led my first peer support group. As I sat there I was raw from the day. I had driven two and half hours to Denver to meet a friend for coffee and to do a training for some young girls at a day treatment center. Coffee went well and the training…. well, not so much.

I spent two hours with these girls and it just didn’t seem to go well. As much I wanted to uplift and inspire, my words seemed to do the opposite. I saw in their eyes despair, overwhelm, and hopelessness; a look I know only too well. I know this pain and my heart ached to help ease it for them. My time with them was running out. My support group started at 6pm and I couldn’t be late. I felt a bit panicky. I can’t leave them this low. I just need a little more time… but there was no more time. I thought, “This sucked. I think this was one of my worst trainings ever.” My spirit sank low and I wondered why I was doing this. I was discouraged and disappointed in myself. I stood up to leave and one of the girls, who hadn’t to this point made any contact with me, looked me in the eye and said, “I think you may have just changed my life.” I was floored. I climbed a few rungs up the rabbit hole I had just spiraled down.

I got in my car and headed back up the mountain. As I drove I felt a pit in my stomach. I was almost nauseous. I was still a bit low from the training and another thought was haunting me… coffee with the “friend” earlier that morning. I had spent an hour or so with someone I very much wanted to get to know more. Our conversation was amazing and inspiring. It was deep, light, loving, and funny all at the same time. I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time– attraction. Without doubt I was attracted to him. As I got up to walk out of the coffee shop I gave him a hug. I wanted to say something, I wanted to acknowledge and speak out how I felt. My heart was on fire and I said nothing. This is the thing that that I carried into the training. My heart was on fire and I was scared… terrified. I said nothing and felt the pain of a call unanswered.

Driving home I began to feel worse. I wanted to give my love words and to cry it out… yet my fear silenced me. The gap between the desire and the fear literally hurt. Do you know what I mean? Have you felt it too? It brought to mind a quote a friend recently shared with me, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” The day had come. I felt my heart on fire; I could actually feel it. I thought about calling this friend and telling him how I felt. My stomach wrenched and my chest started hurting. I felt like I was going to have an anxiety attack. I was actually worried about how awful I was feeling in the moment, it was visceral. That was just too scary. My will didn’t outweigh my fear. I thought about texting him. While this still scared the S H I T out of me, it was something I knew I could do. My head was swimming as I crafted the text. It was finished, waiting to be sent. I paused. My heart hurt, I felt sick. I wanted to throw up. I hit send. “Oh shit, fuck, crap! What did I just do?” I felt panic. I couldn’t tell if it was exhilaration or humiliation. For a brief half of a nanosecond it was exhilaration, then total and complete humiliation. The voice of self-doubt went in to overdrive. For the next hour I went on a spectacular trip all the way to the bottom of the rabbit hole. Old feelings of being not cool, not good enough, ugly, unworthy, and broken surfaced. I began to feel totally unattractive. “What have I done? This was the stupidest thing on the planet. Fuck, shit, crap.”

I drove and witnessed this wave of feelings and sensations in my body. I watched as my heart spoke its truth and how my ego beat the shit out of it for doing so. My ego was now also on fire. My heart retreated and quieted. I felt small. I just felt it all, I was really in it. Slowly my pain did ease and the sensations in my body subsided. I breathed and I knew this was going to be okay. I was going to survive my text. I breathed.

As I sat there in the car before my group, I remembered a buddy suggesting I go on to Facebook and watch a short clip of his son singing. Feeling raw and shaken from this experience I clicked on Facebook and found the clip. I hit play. “Well I don’t know how and I don’t know why. But when something’s living well you can’t say die. You feel like laughing but you start to cry. I don’t know how and I don’t know why…Oh darling my heart’s on fire.” This was it! These were the words of my heart. This feeling in my heart was something, it was living and breathing and I couldn’t bear to hide it and silence it. The ridiculousness in it all did make me want to laugh. I was having a middle school nightmare. I saw the humor in it and wanted to laugh, but started to cry. But one thing was certain; my heart was on fire.

My ego and my heart did a dance or brawl or something in between the rest of the night. I felt compassion at times, sweetness for my honesty in moments, and humiliation and stupidity at others. It was a wave that I’m not completely through riding. I few minutes ago I looked at my text I originally sent as I was writing this and saw that he had replied. “Actually, I recently connected with a past girlfriend.” I got to ride the fun rejection roller coaster for a few minutes as well. Fun times…yeah. Yet that ride was very short, a couple minutes. Hmmm. It wasn’t the rejection that was painful; it was the voice of self-doubt that kicked the shit out of me.

As I reflect on this whole thing what I know for sure is that in this moment my heart is pure. I’m at peace with myself because this day I spoke my truth. I answered the call. I walked to the edge and I stepped. I was afraid, I felt alone, abandoned, beat up, and yet I came out the other side. This day I was loyal to my heart. I know that next time my heart is on fire I will have the courage to speak up. Maybe next time his heart will be on fire, too.