When Gentle and Open don’t Work.



Finding a way to be open in this world is a brave and beautiful thing. I’ve always had an open heart – even if at times a closed body or mind – my heart has always extended beyond my own borders and settled in places that need love or give my heart strength. I love knowledge, ideas and emotions. The good and the bad – it all feels Real. Some of it’s nourishing; some of it painful. But the openness has been a saving grace … without it I may not have found the fertile grounds from which to reseed … to revive and keep beating.

To be open is to be vulnerable … but aren’t we all? With an open heart I can see my vulnerability and respect it. I am made of flesh and bone. I can break and I can grow. I’m human, and in my humanity I need to be …. Gentle.

Finding a way to be gentle with myself – that wasn’t so easy to nurture. My whole life I had been told – like many of us who survive – “You’re so strong” “You can beat this” “Be brave” “Don’t give in” … and I was. I built extra layers around myself. A mask of indifference. An accent of the robust. A casual smile on the surface. How to divert the eyes from the triggers.. then meet their gaze, the green turned to grey. To say out loud, with feeling, “Yes. I am okay. Yes. I am much better, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you …”

But gradually I learnt (am still learning) that being strong was no longer what I needed. What I needed was to NOT be okay. To let the trauma in. To sit with the fear  and the loneliness; the anger and the shame. I had to cry. I had to hurt people.  Let my voice shake. And sometimes I had to stop answering the calls and the queries, and listen to myself. I have to be gentle. The steel I placed in my bones is too heavy to bare for life. So slowly, little shaving by shaving, I’m finding a way to go back to The girl, Without. Most days I forget this … but some days I remember. Those days of remembrance are nourishing – by letting myself be in pieces, I can love those misshapen and ill formed edges. From easing off the tension …. I found space. And in that space luxurious joy and delight. Real Love.

I  can reveal to myself the beauty that lies in being through …. being.


But … I suggest that sometimes, open and gentle don’t work.

They seem, and often feel, a match made for Life. Open hearts and gentle approach can be like massaging the world with luminous fingertips. Sharing warm embrace with all we love. Lately, though, I’ve found gentle isn’t always enough. There is a need for depth. ….gentle touch needs to be rough…and some days open hearts need a gate in front of them. When one opens without a strong resolve? The result can be exhausting and cold. The result can be standing naked in front of love and not having the strength to embrace it, nor the will to step back.

Open hearts often need a strong hand nearby, to protect ourselves from the harm that comes with the good. For not all we open to will serve us. Gentle stride and touch is so necessary … but is it too weak to push back the fear and lead us to the road where we find release? Don’t we all need a closed door to retreat behind when the rain comes?

Maybe there is “too open” or maybe there is ” too gentle” ….but today, I feel that there are just times – few and far between-  when Gentle and Open Don’t Work.


Sian Alexia.


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