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How To Love A Porcupine

Yesterday when I was driving my very young daughters back to their mother’s house, the older one began a tirade of everything that her three-year-old sister does to make her angry. As I listened to her create this detailed list of every transgression that her little sister committed, I had to interject. I explained that her mother does things that make me angry also, but I still love her when all is said and done.

“Don’t use me in your examples,” their mom said later that day.

This was typical. I never thought it was possible for two people to bring children into the world and not love each other, at least on some level — but apparently this is not true for everyone. I suppose if I ever cheated or was abusive I could understand it; but this was not really the case. To put it politely, we were not right for each other and to be honest, my friends were beginning to point out to me that I had been complaining about the same issues for two and then three and finally, four years. It became obvious that nothing was going to change.

It shouldn’t be surprising that cold-heartedness is what led to the relationship’s demise in the first place. Living in a sexless relationship is no fun and living without affection is often unbearable. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even easy to be her ex. I mean, not in the sort of Family Court, drag you through the mud, fight for custody ways — we are far too evolved to have gotten any branch of the government involved in our lives — but in other less obvious ways. I feel something in my chest when I am around her. There is a conspicuous and discernable love inside of me for her and I am almost sure that the only palpable emotion she feels is anger. She is what is often referred to as a “porcupine,” and if you’ve ever tried to nuzzle up to a porcupine, you know that it is not a good idea. It’s as difficult as trying to get yourself not to love someone that has managed to leave an indelible mark on you.

Honestly, I would love — at least on some psychic level — to tell her to take a hike. There is a childish part of me that wants to have the attitude of “you don’t want to show love to me and now I don’t want to show love to you.” I haven’t been able to get there, though. So, I needed to figure out how best to love a porcupine.

Practice Humility- For myself, when someone snaps at me or says something mean or hurtful, it is my ego that hurts the most. There is an underlying defensiveness I feel where I can not even believe that someone would talk to me like that. Practicing humility helps me to not become indignant in these situations because when I become indignant, I lose sight of my connection to the universe and to source energy. And that never turns out well. Need an actionable step for practicing humility? Just stop focusing on yourself.

Check My Sensitivity- I’m sure my ex thinks I’m a jerk for a multitude of reasons, but not very long ago I realized that the only way I was going to live out my truth was to not really care what she thought about me. There are many other people in the world who think I am awesome. Let’s get real: even she thought I was awesome once. I didn’t change. The situation did. To get all worked up about what her current opinion is would be counter-productive. We are never defined by the one-dimensional perception of those around us.

Acknowledge My Part- In the situation with my ex, I knew exactly how drastically her life was going to change when I left — I mean, just in terms of finances. This was a lot of why I kept putting off the inevitable for so long. It seemed almost heartless to put her in a situation where she’d go from having all of my income to just a percentage of it. When I finally made the decision to “pull the trigger,” I did it with my teeth clenched. Part of me hated myself for doing it. Bottom line: yes, she’s got a reason to be short with me and angry.

Realize They Are Hurting- To turn the rusty crank on a dusty old cliché, hurt people hurt people. When I walked up to her last year and explained that I just left a deposit on an apartment twenty miles outside of town, I hurt her. I also set a new dynamic in our relationship. So, of course she is going to jump on every opportunity to reject me from here on out. She has her pride. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would probably do the same thing.

Porcupines were baby porcupines once. When I imagine my ex as a little girl — when I look into the eyes of my three-year-old and realize that in some way, this was who she was at one point — I inflate her with humanity and it becomes a lot easier to understand why she can be a little rough around the edges with me sometimes. And I love her. Even though she’s a porcupine.