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  • SuePattonThoele

Keeping Your Heart Visible



Much to my surprise, Cynthia burst into tears the minute she sat down. As I quietly waited for her tears to subside, I mused about her, a woman I knew socially but had never seen as a client. To the outside world, Cynthia had it all—a successful career, a nice husband, good kids, and a beautiful house. Yet, she was crying as if her heart were broken. Turns out, it was.

As Cynthia’s story unfolded, it became clear that she had not been happy in her marriage for several years but didn’t understand why because nothing had changed, and everything was going smoothly. She’d run through all the chastisements we often flog ourselves with: stop feeling sorry for yourself, be grateful for what you have, your life is a cakewalk compared to so and so’s. Berating herself heaped shame on top of unhappiness. A revealing self-guided meditation had led her to therapy.

In her visualization, Cynthia was comfortably seated in her home. She invited her inner wisdom to show her what was causing her discontent. One of her daughters appeared, and Cynthia noticed that her own heart began to ache and she saw it was bruised and battered. Not surprised, because she and her daughter had recently had a hurtful confrontation, she was able to heal her heart and forgive them both for their falling out. Another daughter, with whom she was close now after a painful past, came into her mind’s eye, and Cynthia’s heart began to bleed. This, too, was easily healed and forgiven. With her healed heart still visible, Cynthia sensed her husband approaching. When he appeared, her heart completely evaporated in a puff of gray smoke. In her head she heard, “My heart is invisible to him.” Much to her sorrow, she then heard, “And you’ve let it become invisible to you, also.”


It turned out that, though a wonderful man, Cynthia’s husband was emotionally unavailable. An eternal optimist, she had held out hope he would change. The imagery helped her accept the fact that he probably would never be able to provide the emotional support for which she longed. After deeply grieving the loss of that dream, Cynthia decided she wanted to accept her husband as he was and enjoy what the relationship did offer—which was a lot, she assured me. A very strong woman, Cynthia vowed to take loving care of herself and carefully honor her own wants and needs. The other day, for the first time in several years, I saw her, and she is very happy. She has created a rich life surrounded by loving and available friends, has come to cherish her marriage as is, and compassionately cares for her heart daily.


During your day...


  • If your heart is anything less than content, spend some quiet time tuning in to what it is feeling and what it might want or need from you.

  • Keep an eye on your heart.


The heart knows the way. Run in that direction.


—Rumi

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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