May you receive more such love, @Dru!
And yes, it is actually quite common for us to be able to receive love from total strangers in ways we may not be able to from our “closest” loved ones… especially if we had issues of broken trust or safety with people close to us when we were young.
In Chinese medicine, part of that is related to the Pericardium or Heart Protector, trying to keep us safe from heartache. Its role is kind of like a gate to keep the Heart safe (as the residence of our spirit) — but if we’ve had painful experiences with loved ones in the past, it sometimes tries to close the door on love itself… keeping out the good stuff as well as the pain.
But the Heart Protector is meant to be a semi-permeable membrane, that only filters out the bad stuff, but lets in all the good, so we can be nourished. It’s unfortunately common for this to be off-kilter — but it can be brought back to balance too!
With so much protection of the inner sanctum (usually due to past trauma or pain), one way of working with healing this Inner border gate is to go to the Outer border gate (that’s actually the point name!) — which is more accessible with people we are not intimately close to. Perfect strangers can help open this up, and remind the heart that it’s ok to receive love!
(This is one reason I was so glad acupuncturists were considered “essential” in our state in the pandemic — this is exactly the kind of work we do, and it’s so important for many people’s well-being!)
Having a massage therapist or other professional bodyworker can be profoundly healing for our hearts and bodies, in ways intimate partners may not be able to access —precisely because we feel too close to them…
A degree of distance can help us feel safe enough to open to love. It can allow us to build our capacity to receive love in ways that can deepen to more intimate love, as we keep practicing.
It can help to start with a stranger and grow that therapeutic relationship over time — they gradually feel closer and safer, and we naturally grow our capacity to open to that, without the higher stakes and complexity of an intimate love relationship! (Or of all the many parts within ourselves…)
Right distance, right depth… it’s always a dance!
Wishing you deeper peace with opening to love.
(Also, there are plenty of embodiment practices to support this deepening of love for ourselves and with others, too! Because whatever pain taught us to shut down is still held in the body somewhere, and it’s through working with the body that it is most likely to resolve thoroughly!)