A Happy Open Heart


“You can’t put a price on happiness.”    

That’s not entirely true. For me that price was $17,947.95.  That is the amount of money my wife Arlene and I spent on our cruise.  To clarify, we spent that amount on new hurricane windows for our home in Fort Myers and received two free tickets on a Caribbean cruise. 

The entire ship including our balcony room was completely accessible.  A must for any vacation to be successful. The shows and the food were beyond extravagant.  Needless to say, my body hung just a little bit lower in the hoyer lift after that trip. 

I reflect that I wouldn’t be on this trip if I had not made a decision to open my heart to the prospect of falling in love.  I was 45 years old when my wife and I were married.  Being injured at 18, it was 27 years living in my wheelchair before I was rolling down the aisle.  This was not because I was a young man sewing my oats and living it up. The 27 year gap in large part was because I had a mirror in my bedroom.  Each morning I could see what I looked like and that always posed the question.   Why would anybody want to be with me?

Subconsciously, these thoughts created a fear inside me and that was the vision I saw any time I thought about letting somebody in.  I did have some experiences but I always made sure to keep my emotions at arm’s length. I would reject myself before anyone could reject me.  Why would anybody else want to live the way that I have to live? That was the overwhelming question that monopolized my thoughts whenever I thought about falling in love.  

Before my injury I was very affectionate and not afraid to express myself.  Post injury I shut down those emotions and found fulfillment in other aspects of my life.  Ultimately this strategy was doomed to fail.  I could convince anyone that my life was happy despite being alone but I could never convince myself. There was one prayer that I remember around that time.  I did not ask God to heal my body. I asked him to heal my heart. After that and a lot of reflection I decided to never reject myself when it came to relationships ever again.  That did not mean that I went out and found Arlene the next day. It was years later when I found the confidence to open my heart.  It took me many years to get to that point. There’s no way it was going to be a quick fix. 

That is what makes that cruise the best vacation I have ever spent. I made the choice to open my heart and let somebody in to share my life. Happiness in life is much better when you share it with someone. My advice to you- Don’t let it take you as long to find the courage to open your heart. Happy Valentine’s Day to my wife Arlene!

Written by Michael Maruzzi