Thorns and all

One thing I've learned as I've grown and matured is that people want to be loved thorns and all. Whether they have more negative attributes than positive, they want to be loved. Those same people may not know how to love back and may not even know what love feels like, but they desire to be loved. 

Let me make this personal. I avoided commitment for a long time because I had zero faith that a man could love me thorns and all. Could a man be in love with me? Absolutely, but that is a selfish kind of love, in my view. Being in love with me is about how I make you soon as I no longer make you feel that way, the fickleness of "in love" seeps in and "in love" flees. I did not want that. Could a man show love to me? Certainly, but that did not mean I would feel it. I could only receive love in the manner in which I understood it. If his version of showing love did not align with my understanding of love, it was purposeless to me. Could I love a man? Most assuredly, but only to the capacity that I have understanding of love. Could I give love in the manner that he could receive it? Only to the capacity that I had it to give. In many ways, I was tapped out... the most I could give was an encouraging word and that was it! 

So...I did not entertain "love." I did slip up and fall in love did not end well. Because of that heartache and heartbreak, I went on a journey of self-discovery. I wrote a book and went on (what my homeboy calls...) an apology tour (revisiting broken relationships and giving and receiving closure) trying to figure out the origin of my relationship decisions and views, and after I figured that out...I eventually went to therapy. Therapy gave me the tools to move beyond the point of self discovery and into the mode of a renewed life and a more optimistic outlook on life, love and relationships. 

Some time ago, I planted rose bushes in my flower bed. Well, I probably should not call it my flower bed because it was left here by the previous homeowners. I merely dug a hole and placed the rose bush into the ground. I never prepared the soil or anything. I just tended to the rose bush, as it grew. I gave it water, rose food, and pruned it haphazardly. (Bear with me...I'll tell you why I'm talking about this dang rose bush...)

One day, I decided that I needed to make the flowerbed my own, so I got some help to redo my flowerbed. I treated the soil, prepped the spots where I would plant flowers and the rose bushes, and put down brand new mulch. I had removed the rose bushes and prepared to replant them into my new flowerbed. Some days passed and my largest rose bush began to die. The flowers dropped and fell off. Then the leaves turned a drab brown and I just knew the rose bush was on its last leg. 

I did not want to say goodbye to the rose bush forever, so I looked for help. I found an expert rose bush
doctor... basically some DIY youtuber... She said I had to cut the rose bush down to the white meat in order to save it. That mean trimming all the branches, scraping of all the bark, and risking getting poked by the thorns. Since I wanted to save the rose bush, I did all of that...and patiently waited. I watered it. I fed it...and it was just there looking nekked. Then one day, I noticed a little burgundy colored bud poking out... could it be? Was the rose bush coming back to life? Heck yeah it was! 

Next thing you know, that joint was flourishing...I kid you not! 

What the heck does this rose bush have to do with love and relationships? Well...hold on I'm going to tell you...

Like the rose bush, when I first planted it, I was growing and maturing based solely on a foundation that someone else created (my parents, my environment, my upbringing, etc.). Much like anyone who grows up in a certain way, I had developed these thorns (defense mechanisms, escapism, walls) to protect me as I grew and moved about life. Those thorns served their purpose in keeping me secure and shielding me from experiencing the same kinds of hurt, pain, traumas, etc. again. However, they also would prick anyone who got next to me...even though those poor people were not the cause of the thorns being there. 

I wanted suitors to accept me thorns and all, with little thought to what those thorns could do to them. I never even fathomed the harm those thorns caused others, I just knew the thorns protected me, and if a man wanted to love me for real, he had to love the thorns too...even if they cut him up. There were plenty of guys willing to get cut up by the thorns because they liked the way I looked or how I brought a little rosiness to their lives. They did not love me thorns and all, they were just willing to get cut by the thorns to get to me. 

As I matured and decided that I wanted to understand life on my own terms, unlearn some things that were rooted in me, and flourish in a foundation that I created (see where I'm going with moving that rose bush into a new flower bed..... mmmhmmm I told you I was going somewhere with this...), I realized I needed some help to unearth some things that were buried within me and treat the soil (myself) that those things were buried in. I sought help, as I outlined above. I dug up all those things that created my thorns and faced the fact that it was not constructive to allow my thorns to cut folks up. 

Sometimes you have to scrape yourself down to the proverbial white meat and start a renewal process. That means facing past traumas, revisiting poor decisions, and having uncomfortable conversations. More than likely you will need help in doing so. It will not be pretty. It will not be easy. By the time you finish, you will be bare...everything stripped away, however, you will slowly begin to grow. New thorns will replace the old ones...but those will be different kinds of thorns, they won't have to cut anyone else. Instead, these new thorns will literally just be there to help you grow and blossom. 

To improve relationships, sometimes you have to uproot yourself from old foundations. You have to scrape away everything you've been through, and prepare new soil to plant fresh thoughts, fresh ideas, and fresh perspectives. Be willing to help new people navigate your thorns, but don't cut them up with them. 

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