Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved blackberries. When I was growing up, there was actually a blackberry bush right outside my house. It grew along a muscadine vine wrapped around our chain link fence, which housed our famed enormous Great Danes. I remember being very small, maybe seven or eight-years-old, and picking the plump surviving blackberries off their thorny little homes, amidst our LeBron James-sized dogs.
These are good memories, but if you didn’t grow up in the South, then I probably need to explain something to you. Loving blackberries came with a price. I can’t tell you how many times that I ran through the woods as a kid and got scratched the hell up from these types of bushes.
Thorns = a southern kid’s worst nightmare.
Nevertheless, they tasted good and there was something worth the chase of being able to pick your very own blackberries. I always got excited when I saw those little treasures growing freely along the side of the road by a cow pasture filled with haystacks.
Wow, that sounded more southern than I anticipated, but it is true.
They tasted better that way.
They were better that way.
Lately, my friend has been on my mind a lot. I’ve been trying to help her through a really stressful loss. She asked me to write something on the topic of breakups and how horrible hers went down. I wanted to, but I hadn’t written anything remotely serious in a very long time.
I’m not going to lie. Considering that I’ve been out of love for almost a year now, this was a really hard post for me to write. It’s almost like I didn’t want to go back to that place. Getting your heart broken is a serious trauma that sticks with you. While you may have forgiven, I promise you’ll never forget.
Every time I tried to sit down and discuss what had just happened to her, I just spewed out this dark, hateful, frankly, really shitty writing, because I was mad. Mad at the way people can be sometimes. Mad that someone so special to me wasn’t being treated fairly.
But if I’m going to write about love and the risks you take when you fall in love, I wanted it to be meaningful. It’s more nuanced than just, “Men sucks, let’s burn this bitch down from the ground up.” I started thinking about what it felt like to go through losing your first real love. All this nostalgia washed over me. As I plopped a bitter tasting blackberry into my mouth this afternoon, I thought, “Wait, this is it!”
When it comes to love, you’re not normally scared to stick your proverbial hands into a bed of thorns, hoping to pull out something sweet when you see it.
But if you’ve ever picked wild blackberries, then you know that sometimes you might pick one a little too ripe. Sometimes the other person isn’t ready and your love ends up a bit too bitter, like the red and green ones that are mixed in between the black ones. It could be that it’s too young to survive, not ready, or just wasn’t given a real chance.
Normally, that’s not the love that hurts you deeply, though. You might get stuck with a bad taste in your mouth, but you’re still willing to bear through the thorns and try again for a better one. Moving on doesn’t seem impossible at this point.
While getting your finger pricked a few times isn’t going to be the death of you, there is one thing that could cease your blackberry picking for good:
As a child, I remember ceaselessly being warned that snakes loved to lurk in blackberry bushes, simply because blackberries taste good and they want some too.
Snakes hide in blackberry bushes because love feels good, even when you’re not giving it back in return. I don’t care how much of a snake you are, you still want to receive that attention. See, you’re willing to consume the love, but you’re going to end up biting the person searching for something real if they get too close to you.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of snakes out there. Men and women a like. Their intentions remain hidden until you find yourself suffering from the poison they’ve injected into your life.
Yet, that’s still not the saddest kind of love there is, to me. That might be the one where you find yourself hurting, but snake bites aren’t always lethal. Most of the time, you’re able to recover from that.
What about the blackberry, itself?
What about the ones that are still clinging onto the vine for life, but are riddled with holes from insects? Often these ones are the sweetest. They’re normally the darkest in color, because they’ve been on the vine the longest. But because of that, they’re already dying a bit.
Used up, partially missing, grotesque.
This is the kind of love that my friend experienced. Even though she knew going into the relationship that there was going to be some problems, she still picked this person, because she saw that there was potential in him. Parts of their love was sweet, but parts of it were entirely missing.
The decay was already there and once it’s filtered its way into someone’s soul, the rot only continues to get worse when the person decidedly doesn’t do anything to rid themselves of it. These are the people who are suffering from multiple snake bites.
The blackberry picker has now become the blackberry in this weird analogy.
It’s basically a fruit-based adult version of the Oregon Trail.
Another person’s love wasn’t going to save this person from themselves. The damage had already been done, because the rot had began long before she ever came into the picture. It festered in unsure moments, depression, and an inability to trust that anything would ever get better.
Even in the face of a wonderful woman offering every inch of selflessness that she had.
My friend is not someone who thrives in sadness, death, morbidity, or self-pity. She’s a happy, energetic, confident, smart, beautiful, and all-around wonderful human being. At times, I don’t think she realizes how special that she truly is and how lucky someone will be to have her.
But this negative energy and depressive, unsure, wilting love isn’t for her. That much has always been certain from an outsider’s perspective.
This person was incapable of appreciating her and ultimately loving her, because he is that riddled-with-holes blackberry.
She wants to know why things happened the way that they did and that’s my best explanation. Everyone wants to be loved, but some people just aren’t capable of giving it back. They’re either snakes wanting a one-way relationship, or they’re out there trying, and maybe even believing that they might be capable of it, but not totally sure.
Always being the hopeless romantic, my best advice is that seasons come and go. That’s more of a statement, but you get the point. Old love fades away and new ones emerge.
Love is painful sometimes, but it’s a part of life. Falling in love is a risk that we all take, because it’s something that we all want. Don’t let one sour blackberry or a run-in with a snake scare you away from love, because we wouldn’t keep doing this shit if it wasn’t worth the risk.
I remember every year that blackberry bush at my house would die as summer ended, but sure enough, as spring came along, there it was, producing new fruit and more memories as I grew up.
Even in the darkest moments, it’s important to remember that there’s always another season.
Love will reemerge again.