Today I won’t be quoting or taking lines from the philosophers because this topic is something I need to face alone. It’s something that I need to speak about and release from my energetic field, from my higher mind, from my subconscious and rational thinking mind, This thing: a cactus.
A few years ago now, an ex of mine bought me a potted cactus out of the blue as a nice little present. It was low maintenance, had a soothing presence, a beautiful thing and made my home feel warm. I neglected it. I let it die on my windowsill, hidden for months behind eternally closed shutters collecting dust. I forgot about it and disregarded it and in the end, I threw it away. It was not just a cactus, it was my ex’s heart personified. It was them presented as a metaphor: low maintenance, beautiful, a little prickly yet endearing, a warming presence with unique colours of thought and presentation.
I threw it away and neglected it. I threw away and neglected them. I treated them like the cactus and left them on the shelf to collect dust and wither away as a background element in my life. I disregarded my duty of care and self-absorbed lifestyle.
It’s such a silly thing, a potted cactus yet when I think about it I feel a deep swell of self-loathing, pain, regret, sorrow, vemod. I say often that there are no mistakes yet, this one is harder to mull over casually. Perhaps because it was such a profound moment when I realized that this cactus, this silly thing, was the singular focal point of my vices. I think of all the people I’ve hurt along my journey to get to this point where I can look back and accept my wrong. I think of every word, every act, every flash of needless rage. Life is not like Sims where you can just say “well fuck it” after each failed relationship and start again or go back to a previous save to before when things were fine. There is no right or wrong just consequence and my consequence was inflicting pain on others and myself through that.
I actually cheated on this person, can you believe that? Every time I went to work and got drunk bartending it happened and eventually it happened more times than it didn’t. It was an arrogant disregarding of my ex’s feelings and total disrespect of their emotional sovereignty. They were perfect, you know? A perfect being, so mature and wise and beautiful in mind and body and spirit. My only comfort is that they are now so learned from the car crash that we were (thanks to me), that they will never stoop to share their life like they did with me with someone like me again. A strength born from a test of faith in self-worth.
The truth is that I fucked up and killed something that will never exist again within my material experience. So many things I can say that to, so many mistakes and so much pain inflicted with each harsh word or unvirtuous act. This cactus, now a shadow in a sea of landfill, was me and is me if I allow myself to be. This cactus represents my arrogance and reckless pride.
I fucking love that cactus.
It makes me feel so hollow and so exposed and so dirty. It keeps me grounded and keeps me from ever being the one to be so callous again. It pains me, this silly memory and this silly thing yet I hold onto it and its spines as they cut my hands to shreds. Right now, as I feel the weight of cold sadness above my brow and heaving onto my shoulders, I am grateful for it. It’s like a scar on my soul in technicolour. A self inflicted scar that I can only hope has strengthened another in its presence on them.
I lost contact with a friend recently. It was my own neglect again and it reminded me of the cactus and it stuck me with its spikes in the heart chakra. I just opened up a message one day and was so wrapped up in my own bollocks that I just didn’t reply. Here we are nearly three weeks down the line and there’s nothing but a pervasive hollowness. I reached out, I made my case to repair, to never leave a thing unattended again.
We all have a cactus.
They mean so little and so much. They are defining moments, metaphors, ghosts that haunt us. Ghosts that we wouldn’t be the same without. It’s not particularly stoic to carry ghosts yet what are we but the sum of our parts, and what we chose to do with those parts?