Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prickly People Need Love Too

My husband and I have noticed that marriages between strong personalities tend to have moments of prickliness in them, which people survive when they practice forgiveness and tolerance of each other's character defects.

It's harder to practice a good recovery program at home, where we somehow feel free to let it all hang out. It's easier to be a good AA in meetings than it is to be a good member of AA when your partner annoys you.

My husband and I are both strong personalities. He is a self-confessed control freak, and I am often stubborn. We struggled for years to learn how to have mercy with each other, keep our side of the street clean, and grant the other person the right to be wrong.

But he's been sober for 22 years, and I've been sober for 16 out of the past 19. We've grown together. Forgiveness of ourselves and each other has become second nature, except when we have the usual sort of heated words that crop up when somebody's being a butthead. We made a promise to accept each other as the way we are, warts and all.

One day, when it was it his turn to be a butthead, I wrote this poem:

Cactus Love

A work of art the cactus is
a hymn of symmetry
a prick and proud to be

How primal yet complex it is
austere, yet blooms appear
delicate but severe

Compelling is this crown of thorns
it makes you want to touch
but pain results from such

It sounds like you, the cactus does
a fearsome man apart
yet beautiful at heart
Chris Alba (c) 2009


Karen said...

Ha! What a great comparison! This could be my husband of 36 years, prickly but a man with a beautiful heart. Love the crown of thorns image and the terms "fearsome man apart".

Madison said...

Sort of a sweet poem about a prickly topic, ending with 'beautiful at heart' - in spite of pain. You must be a wise woman.

big Jenn said...

Oh this sounds familiar! jeNN

Shadow said...

what a delight. the cactus as comparison to a personality is perfect.

the walking man said...

I am a prickly person without the ly at the end. The old lady and I have found our way to accommodation. I don't stand in the way of what she wants to accomplish and she lets me not help.

It all works out that way. She doesn't help me write and I don't help her do everything else.

ha ha ha ha

It is good you and the old man have found your way. Nothing better than being at ease with another person.

Dave King said...

It's a wonderful image, the cactus, very adaptable and you have used it superbly. Enjoyed the post very much.

Tall Kay said...

It sounds like a very healthy marriage! Great idea to take turns being the butthead! Loved the poem.

Syd said...

Nice poem--I totally can relate to the prickliness of two people living together, whether the personalities are similar or not. My wife tends to be passive but in a powerful way. She doesn't want to talk things out. I tend to be the controller or the one who used to try to talk things out ad nauseum. Now that we are both in our respective programs, we have let each other have space. We have been married over half of our lives and have just within the past year allowed each other to simply be without my trying to fix or her having to sulk. It seems that we love each other more than before in so many ways.

Scott W said...

Sometimes the prickly has to protect the tender heart.

Angelita said...

Nice post and poem. That's true and very inspirational for us newly partner, we're also trying very hard have a healthy relationship like you guys. Bless you...

Rhetorical Nonsense said...

Had me laughing at the start (out of identification with the poem), then it kind of struck an emotional cord within me and made me look down in thought in realization of my somewhat destructive nature. How inspirational, from a writing perspective. Emotional evoking as well... outstanding work.