Growing

Being Cactus

Even with all that armor, cacti can be beautiful.

Even with all that armor, cacti can be beautiful.

Speaking truly from the heart can be frightening. What if the listener doesn’t understand? What if he/she doesn’t feel the depth or breadth of what we are trying to say? What if the listener is uninterested, and you feel like you’re casting pearls before swine? What if the listener scoffs at something that is so heartfelt for you and ridicules your feelings? What if you are so psychologically armored that you can’t find your heart, living strictly in your head? When that happens, there is little ability to speak from the heart.

More beauty among thorns.

More beauty among thorns.

I have often been too far in my head to be able to find my heart. It was so much safer in my head, where I didn’t need to worry that my feelings would be laughed at or I would be ashamed. I spent many years in a place where anger was the only safe expression of feelings, and it took me quite some time to unlearn some of those habits and find what lay in my heart. It took even longer to find the courage to speak from my heart when the need was clear. It’s been a long struggle to be at a place where I could speak the truths that lay in my heart, and I’ve not entirely arrived. I vacation there more often now, let’s say.

This cactus has grown tall, strong, and flowered magnificently.

This cactus has grown tall, strong, and flowered magnificently.

It’s like my heart was the squishy center in a strong, healthy cactus, protected by a thick skin and prickly spines. My heart was protected and as I psychologically armored, my body grew to reflect that same level of armor. An armored body is quickly one in pain, and I spent many years seeing pain as my enemy before I saw it as a lesson. As I learn to release the pain, the armor eases away, and I’m leaving my soft center more exposed to the world. I feel vulnerable and worry that my feelings aren’t safe. But to remain armored is to remain so defended that my heart cannot find another’s. Is that any way to live? I don’t want to live safe and sound but isolated and alone.

Sedona cactus 3All my life, animals have been my safe harbor – the one place where I felt truly safe to love with an undefended heart. I am now boosting my courage, hoping to expand the small circle of people whom I trust and love. This small circle has begun to feel confining. Wish me luck, and godspeed, as I release more of my armor, my spines, and thick skin so that I can place my heart in a more open place. It takes courage to be so vulnerable – but it also leaves me able to live more freely.

 

Categories: Growing, love

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21 replies »

  1. I’m trying to vacation there more, too. Beautifully expressed, and to play with the apt cactus metaphor, it’s only when the flower opens that life-giving pollination happens. I’d love to have a conversation about the small confining circle. I identify with that.

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  2. To open to Self and others makes us vulnerable, but that’s okay. I applaud you for opening up and putting your truth out there. Every one may not get it, nor may all approve, but all that matters in the end is that you approve of yourself.
    Take the risk, Karel. Be soft, be vulnerable, You never know who may need to hear your truth as you see it. Hugs to you. Brenda

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  3. It really does take courage to open yourself up after you’ve been closed off safely from the potential for pain. But it’s definitely worth it. You sound ready to take on the challenge, and I have no doubt you’ll reach your goal successfully. We’re all behind you!

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    • *Sigh* I have an awful headache tonight and these aspirations that felt so possible for weeks suddenly feels unattainable. It sounds so tiring. And my social skills are so lacking. Thanks for your encouragement. Tomorrow is a new day! Give my love to Daisy!

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  4. Fantastic insight! What wonderful growth you have achieved. How nice it would be if we could all grow up that much. I am so proud of you!

    Your understanding of your feelings is remarkable. One of the heavy issues with our minds and hearts is to know where is the line between the philosophy of “the best defense is a good offense” and “the best defense is just avoiding exposure” and where is the ground where we can relax and not be concerned with guarding anything! We all need to find who we are in our hearts and minds and to reconcile the two. While we need to know and understand our feelings, we don’t have to expose them to everyone. Too much exposure of our feelings sets us up for being bullied and abused. So where is the line? How do we determine what is safe exposure and what is appropriate privacy? Lots and lots of reality testing and trying to read and understand other people is the only way I have found. That is a tough way so hopefully, you can find an easier way. I think the trick might be to develop an attitude that is non-aggressive, reassuring, kind, approachable that you don as a face for the world. But there are some feelings that are just more private. If you don’t have some boundaries, you are set up for trespassing by others. The users of the world will eat you alive.

    But then I am your mother; so maybe I am the cause you had the cactus approach to begin with because I didn’t show you a better approach? Mother’s don’t always have the answers or the right approach. We have to learn how to mother, as well as how to be a friend, how to be a lover, how to be a worker…on and on. It is a lot to learn as you have well found out. I am so happy that you are at the point in life where you are learning for YOU, for self development instead of just learning what it takes to do for everybody else.

    Keep up the good work and I pray for many blessings on your effort. You can be a cactus flower instead of a cactus thorn! How nice! Cactus flowers are lovely. Interesting combination God made there: lovely flowers and thorns to protect them. You made some great observations.

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  5. Several years ago I had to speak frankly to some friends. I liked them very much, but I felt they had seen in me what I really wasn’t. Perhaps I had agreed with them just to be polite. I wanted to be liked and we did share some interests. But when it came to some core beliefs, I finally had to explain how I felt. Unfortunately we are no longer friends. It made me sad at first because I knew I was just being truthful. Today I no longer care and really don’t seek many friends.

    Of course I wish you luck. Knowing what you want and knowing how you are going to go about getting it…….that is lucky in itself. :)

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    • Thank you . I’m trying to strip away all that which isn’t true-me, which makes it easier to find my heart and keep it open. It’s a daunting task which is nonetheless liberating and fulfilling.

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