SGLY: Sticker burrs

By Tiffany Chartier
Special to the Prosper Press

I wrestle with wakefulness. I have for most of my adult life. While trying to unwind, I have a goofy habit of rubbing my feet together under my weighted blanket. Eventually, I tire myself and slip into slumber. Yesterday, something new kept me awake: a sticker burr in my sock. If you have ever stepped on these spiky weeds, you know two things: 1) they hurt beyond description, and 2) they are hard to remove.

While rubbing my feet together, I felt a sharp pain burrow into my right ankle through my sock. I threw my blanket to the side. Within seconds, I had my right sock off, tossing it to the floor. In my sleepiness, I decided to wear one sock for the remainder of the night.

Covers and thoughts realigned, I was cozy once again and fell back into a peaceful state, rubbing my feet together. Within moments, the sharp pain returned to my right foot. This time I flipped on the nightstand light before tossing the blanket aside. Under the light, I inspected my bare foot. Nothing. Then I noticed a sticker burr proudly presenting itself on my left foot’s sock. I thought I had taken care of the problem, but I was mistaken. I was looking at where the pain was, not what was causing the pain.

The memory of the sock fiasco returned to me the following day when a woman confided in me about her marriage. I had known this friend for several years, and I had difficulty believing what she was saying. She never appeared unhappy, and her spouse was always so kind to me. As her story unfolded, I kept thinking about that sticker burr.

Have you ever repeatedly blamed yourself for something not working out only to realize later that, although you played a part, you were not the main reason for the difficulties? During that time, the pain you felt was a reaction to the friction you experienced by the “sticker burr.” Instead of looking to the cause, you allow others or the situation to convince you that it is your problem. So, you shift and adapt to try to convince yourself that this is doable, it isn’t as bad as it seems, this can be fixed, and you can make it better by being better.

But no matter how hard you try to persuade yourself that you are okay, you never are entirely at ease. Why? Because even when you do create your own sunshine, you are still playing footies with the sticker burr. And just like that spiky weed I found in my sock, such relationships and situations 1) hurt beyond description, and 2) are hard to remove.

When someone begins to question your memories or your perception of reality, pay attention. If you are not careful, you will begin to feel confused, anxious, convicted, and pressed down in thought. You will instinctively try to shed what is wrong to fix the situation — to right reality, telling yourself that it isn’t all bad and perhaps you see things wrong.

STOP. You are not wrong. You are not crazy.

There are far too many types of pain that no one sees: gossip, rage, verbal abuse, gaslighting, lies, slander, the silent treatment, to name a few. EMOTIONAL STICKER BURRS ARE REAL. Maybe you have never experienced them, and for that, be thankful. But many have, and they

often come in the form of narcissists who go from being brilliant, warm public performers to eerily cold manipulators in private.

A narcissist will play victim, all the while tapping into your fears to convince you that you are selfish and small-minded — that you need their strength, provision, and protection. They may tell you they love you, but more often, this “love” translates to mean they don’t want to lose control of you. They simply don’t want to lose — ever.

It is hard to remove yourself from such a situation. Even trying to tell someone is a risk because of the fear you will not be believed. After all, a narcissist is known to be friendly, gregarious, and kind — such a great person. Others do not see behind their superficial mask. Consequently, you put on a mask too, wearing a smile and telling everyone you are happy. You even tell yourself this because, in truth, sometimes you are happy — and that alone messes with you.

It messes with you until one day the weighted blanket is not as strong as your resolve, and the sticker burr burrowed in your “normal” no longer fits in the future you want. You must give control back to God where it belongs. Ask God to help you remove yourself from the sticker burr. Enlist those you trust to help. Eventually, the most painful steps will be behind you.

Pay attention to the spiky weeds — they are sneaky and cunning. If a friend confides in you that they are being gaslighted or psychologically abused, do not traumatize them twice by doubting them. I almost did this to my friend simply because it seemed unreal. What I learned was what I had seen for years was partially fake — the raw truth she kept much too long to herself. She took the hard step to come to me. Please do the same for others. Be a safe harbor in the presence of their vulnerability. There are too many people living with unnoticed sticker burrs.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile God Love You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.