The Cactus Garden

Recently, I went to the Krohn Conservatory here in Cincinnati. I have always wanted a green thumb. I wanted to be able to dream up and plant gorgeous creations like the ones I saw that morning.  Instead, I kill every green thing, except weeds… they thrive in my yard (ugh).

One area of the conservatory spoke to me more than the others – The Cactus Garden.

As I walked the meandering path, all I could think about were the thorns and spikes all over these gorgeous plants. Part of me (most of me if I’m honest), wanted to touch the thorns, and see if they were as effective as they looked. How could something so beautiful, be made to hurt you? The beauty of each plant pulled me in and the thorns complicated my admiration.

Immediately, it hit me. Life is just like a cactus. Beautiful but complicated, and full of thorns. Sometimes, we can avoid touching those thorns and other times, we don’t.

In my past, I can clearly see the times that I was protected from hitting thorns and the times when I was thrust into them.  Heartbreaks, successes, love, hate, failures, and triumphs.  No situation was filled with more thorns than my divorce.

The initial impact of the thorn of finding out about his affairs was so shocking, I couldn’t feel it.  Then as I continued to accept what happened, the pain set in.  Even now, as I attempt to enter into new relationships, I discover the lasting impact of some of those thorns.

The lasting impact I have noticed lately is hesitation and fear.  I am hesitant to pursue anything that may lead to a similar outcome.  What if…. I get hurt again?  What if…. I fall in love?  What if…. it doesn’t last?  Then fear joins in and reminds me that the last time “I knew for sure” I was wrong.  I “knew” AJ was my person… and I couldn’t have been more wrong.  How could I not fear my own decision making…

Whoa.  It’s happening again… overthinking, trying to find answers I couldn’t possibility have and fearing something that may or may not happen.  Anxiety.  It’s normal, but what if we touched the thorns and nothing happened?  What if it was just a little sting?  All that anxiety would be for nothing.

I have to keep reminding myself that life is full of highs and lows.  No ones’ life is completely perfect all day, every day.  We experience lows so that we appreciate the highs.

In the beginning of my journey back to “just me”, I was so frustrated with the statements “it will get better”, or “you will find someone greater”, or “this will soon pass”.  None of that seemed genuine to me.  But as the pain of the thorns fade away, I see my future is full of endless possibility!  It has already gotten better, I have no doubt I will find someone suited for me, and it has passed very quickly (all things considered).  Genuinely, it gets better.

As I continue to walk the winding path of life, I’ll do my best to avoid those sharp, tough thorns, but if I run into them, I’ll brace myself for impact, and grow from the pain.  Thorns aren’t as scary as they seem.

In case you were wondering… I did touch the thorn of the cactus pictured here (bottom right). It didn’t hurt at all.  It was almost soft… false alarm.