Safeguarding love, protecting it in the hustle of life, and making it last is hard, especially when you have prickles, and I have prickles. When I don’t have prickles, I am more love than anyone might know what to do with. A deep and wide, potentially suffocating amount of love…deep as the ocean. I can float that sea; I’ve always been this way. In spite of that, and even with my sturdy rowboat, I sometimes find myself in a gale that is much too large.
When the waves are big like that, and I fear the boat may tip, I grow prickles. The prickles have a job, they serve as a sign, to steer others away. The bigger the prickles, the bigger the warning…because, the bigger the storm. It’s a messy system right? I wouldn’t disagree.
In our world, we are told that prickles are a problem. If you have prickles, you are seen as unkind, harsh, unloving, or words even more cutting. Sometimes you are told these things to your face, which is by far the most desirable, but also most quarrelsome and wearying way to address prickles, especially while the prickles are out. Sometimes people whisper, stare, or counter with spite – quietly, secretly, until resentful counter-prickles spew out of their mouths like fireworks. Other times people just grow tired of the prickles over time, and drift away as your prickles chase them, growing ever larger on the storm that such prickle perpetuated self-sabotage stirs.
It’s hard to live with prickles, and really it doesn’t make any sense in the long run. All those with prickles know this, deeply in the stitching that holds their bones to other bones, and muscle to connective tissue, and the like. That horrible truth is from where the prickles spring, birthed out of fear, darkness, and the echo that loneliness rings forth. It’s a inky spot on the heart, a collective clenching of every cell in the body, and then a great whooshing release when they are freed, until the debris is surveyed. That is the problem with prickles. There is always debris.
It’s hard to talk about having prickles. Especially when you have chosen to work toward higher callings, of peacefulness, kindness, patience, gratitude, acceptance. When you talk about the prickles, people share their stories, about how you have made them, their hearts, their efforts, into debris. These are hard.
Late at night, over the years, when no one else can see or hear me, I have quietly, repeatedly, rolled the stories out and scanned them, looking for gems of truth. If the truth is that I hold some key, I want it, because prickles wear the carrier down, and over time, as for Atlas, the burden weighs heavy. The stories become a version of the truth, and you don’t know what to do.
I have swung widely here; what to do? I’ve ignored them, tried to party them away, run from them – a marathon even. I’ve attempted to cut them off – but never into my own skin, thankfully – others have, and they don’t deserve that. I’ve avoided relationships, ended relationships, ruined relationships. I’ve done yoga. I’ve sat, despondent, and looked at my prickles, and cursed them. I’ve broken things; I’ve been unkind. But mostly, I’ve been sad. Woefully sad. I’ve tried everything, and anything in between. In the end, they are still my prickles and they still cause problems.
I’m writing about the little bastards, because recently, my prickles caused me an egregious error. I prickled when someone was rowing in, to join me in the storm. Someone safe, and strong, and viable. After a lifetime of prickling, I didn’t choose another option. They were already out. Now, that wave having crashed, I know I will try something different next time. I am hopeful there will be a next time.
There certainly will be more prickles; maybe not as sharp? I don’t know. In my learning curve, which has been steep lately, I wanted to write about the prickles, to invite others to recognize – we all have prickles. And, most of us are working toward a higher calling. Some have razor sharp prickles, others are small. I’m thinking of hedgehogs, porcupines, and things more venomous. There’s a spectrum. Maybe it sounds wrong, but I am learning to befriend them, again – as an undesirable, albeit effective way to warn others away from the turbulence inside. They are a way to provide love, but they don’t feel loving. Maybe by talking about the prickles we can somehow keep ourselves from the consequences inherent.
And what to you who love a carrier of prickles? Do you accept them, no. That doesn’t seem right. Do you row into them, maybe – if you are brave or foolish or just plain trying, because you love that prickly beast. I don’t know the answer, because the issues are shifty and prolific, and different for each beast. All I know is that I, as a bearer of prickles, am worthy of love, and I am steadfast in the love I have to offer. I make mistakes, but I tabulate them carefully, and store them where the scary stories are held, and I look them over fastidiously and often. Because I have to go back and repair the damage, every time, and do everything I can to change the pattern. I believe strongly that everyone deserves a chance for redemption. Especially if we desire it, and work for it, hard.
If you have prickles, own them. They are yours, you earned them honestly, and they have tried to serve you the best they know how. If you love someone with prickles, be patient. Don’t accept abuse. Set limits. Don’t row into the prickles, nor rush from them; they will chase you. Put on your shell, if you must, but don’t submerge too deep. You’ll both be safer, but you’ll lose sight of one another in the long run. It will happen.
A compromise? If it’s safe, maybe try just putting a beacon out – a strong, warm light, on the tip of your own sturdy vessel. Stay just outside the perimeter of the storm, but close, so your presence is known, and when the storm passes, your love can find you, and there might be less debris. I am hopeful, at least.