Nurturing Dead Things

It’s been too long since I last shared.  I’m in a place where I can share today.  Please be gentle with my heart.

Disclaimer : I will use the word “relationship” in this blog.  Please do not limit this to a romantic relationship.  I mean that word to mean “connection.”

| Nurturing Dead Things |

It wasn’t in my direct line of sight, but out of the corner of my eye, I could see a hazy vision of it.  A yellow pot, filled with dirt, showing no signs of life occupied space on the bookshelf in my office.  Another day had passed.  Neither had it bloomed again nor had I thrown it away.  “This is it,” I thought to myself.  I finally built up the courage to let it go, and I did.

Having plants has taught me that I can’t nurture everything.

Approximately five years ago, in recognition of Administrative Professionals Day, I was gifted a plant.  It was and is no secret that I do not have a green thumb; however, that day, I pasted a smile on my face and expressed my appreciation despite my uncertainty of how I’d care for that plant or the fact that it just wasn’t the right gift for me.  According to the paperwork included, it was low maintenance, but left to me, it would be dead by the end of my shift.  That day I made a vow that unlike some plants of my past that didn’t last very long, I would devote my energy to making sure this one had a fighting chance.  As to be expected, I had my share of ups and downs with this piece of greenery over the last five years.  I’ve talked to it (because that’s what I heard you’re supposed to do), watered it, and watched it flourish.  When it was growing beyond the capacity of it’s original pot, I moved it to a larger pot and gave it fresh soil.  When it had a few dead leaves that threatened the life of the entire plant, I cut those leaves back.  After awhile, I started to receive compliments, and people asked me how I kept my plant looking so good.  Just when I thought my innate nurturing skills were on autopilot, my plant succumb to the side effects of transition.  The concise version is my plant had journeyed from place to place and climate to climate until it ended up in my office at work.  It was that last move that allowed me to give it the most attention but not the right care simultaneously.  Basically, I was around all the time but wasn’t the right person to take care of it.  It was in this office that I saw the plant grow with branches so long that they could be cut off and planted in new soil to produce a totally new plant.  It was also in the atmosphere that I watched my plant shrivel and begin to die.  I continued watering and talking to the plant just as normal, maybe even more than normal.  As before, I cut back dead leaves in an effort to save the entire plant, but nothing I did was enough. 

The same people who once complimented my flourishing plant grimaced at the sight of its withered leaves and dried soil.  Without really knowing or caring how much effort I had already exhausted to revive my plant, they offered their own set of sure-fire solutions.  “Chris, what you need to do is cut the branches all the way back, get some fresh soil, and maybe you should move it to another climate.”  I was over it, but I allowed my coworker to cut back the branches and search for new soil, but there was nowhere else for the plant to go; it needed to be where I was so that I could remember to take care of it.  Two weeks passed, and I found myself trying to ignore the dead plant that occupied space in my office with the exception of the times that I’d water it in hopes of resurrection.  Having that plant so close to me was a painful reminder that despite my best efforts, I couldn’t save the gift that I was given long ago.  So I did what I need to do; I picked up the plant, and I threw it away.

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That was a long introduction for a short message…I hope.

Recently, I found myself taking a review of the relationships that I’ve been watering.  That in and of itself took a bit of courage because I wasn’t ready for what was on the other side of the review.  I have already watched so many close friendships dissolve that I have developed a bit of a complex, and what I didn’t think I could stomach was losing another person or realizing the rejection that comes with a break up/ending of a relationship.  That rejection piece is a whole other blog for another day.  Anyway, when I started sifting through the remaining relationships in my life, I found one that mirrored this plant.  At one point, it flourished beautifully.  It was my pleasure to nurture this relationship, so I paid it extra special attention.  Just as my plant, I watered (showered) the relationship with love and affection, and when things appeared to threaten the life of our connection, I foolishly cut it off…including people.  If I am truthful, I gave this particular relationship extra TLC because I was working extra hard to keep it.  Consider what I just said about the dissolution of prior relationships.  I had series of significant relationships fail in the past; therefore, I attempted to go above and beyond to maintain the health and life of this one amidst transitions, but I failed.  No matter what I did, how hard I tried, or how often I prayed, the relationship was dying.  After awhile, I accepted that there wasn’t anything I could do to make the plant be what it once was.  Still, I couldn’t part with it.  Like the lifeless plant that sat on the bookshelf in my office, this relationship was merely taking up space in my life.  I’ll honestly admit that I had an array of emotions.  I went from crying endlessly because this relationship didn’t live up to the promise of flourishing to praying that God would help me accept that the relationship would never be what I hoped for.  But I just didn’t get it.  This “plant” seemed to withstand the array of transitions that life had taken me through, so why did it start dying once I was settled?  A reality check gave me an answer that was harder to accept than the death of the connection itself.  The plant I received five years ago on Administrative Professionals Day wasn’t the right gift for me because it was outside of my scope of care.  Just the same, this wasn’t the relationship for me.  I was trying to make something work that would have never worked because it wasn’t meant for me.  He wasn’t for me.  He didn’t belong to me.  Like that plant, I spent hours, minutes, and seconds watering a relationship that didn’t truly belong to or should I say for me. 

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Back to my story…  There were no commentators to give me advice as to how I could rescue this relationship, and rightfully so.  My desire for a private life meant that this relationship was hidden in plain sight; furthermore, I hadn’t shared my woes with anyone to even receive advice.  As a matter of fact, I was the only one coaching myself to continue watering this thing.  I was nurturing a dead thing in secret and praying that no one would notice.  To no avail, I offered some measure of care to something whose season had ended in my life.  Daily phone calls dwindled to once or twice a week, and text messages went from engrossing conversation to small talk.  Even though I wasn’t still pouring at the same measure, because my heart and feelings were involved, I continued watering my dead relationship.  I watered it every time I rehearsed with him that stale conversation of what happened vs. how/if we could fix it.  I watered it every time I walked on egg shells and bit my tongue in an effort to make things feel like they once did though they weren’t what they once were.  I watered it every time I suppressed how much this relationship had drained me in order to care for the feelings of the other party.  I poured into soil that refused to receive what should have given it life.  One day I decided enough was enough.  I didn’t want to replay the scenario, I didn’t want to review how well I did/didn’t take care of things, I didn’t want to remember how I felt when there wasn’t any return for my investment, and I didn’t want to be responsible for what wasn’t anymore.  I didn’t want it to be my fault anymore or take blame for what I didn’t deserve.  I no longer wanted to carry remorse because I had transitioned to a new space (way of thinking, maturity level, and level of expectation) that wasn’t conducive for us anymore.  I was done apologizing that I couldn’t reduce myself to who and where I was in order to make this thing thrive again.  I WAS DONE!  So when the conversation arose as it periodically did, I expressed my concerns for the final time and gave the benediction.

Benediction – the bestowing of a blessing at the end [of a religious service]. 

I didn’t pick a fight.  What’s done is done, and I’m not holding a grudge.  I don’t hold grudges, but I hold feelings.  Everyday, I am making myself choose not to hold those feelings of anger, regret, and resentment.  Truthfully speaking, some days are a lot harder than others.  Today, as I face the memory of a relationship that ended so long ago, has become one of those days.

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THE MORAL OF THE STORY

Here’s my truth, my hesitance to fully let this relationship go had nothing to do with whether or not I could live without that person.  I’ve had people walk out of my life before and some without saying, “Good bye.”  Letting go of this relationship meant acknowledging that the ending of this feels like yet another failure.  Letting this “plant” hit the trashcan meant accepting that I wasn’t the one meant to carry this particular plant to its full bloom and keep it alive.  Me… Christen Diane Rouson?  I wasn’t the token one to make it work.  Me… Christen effin’ Rouson?  The one who was supposedly perfect for this but still not good enough.  Me?  Me.  I’d have to embrace that after pulling out all of the stops, jumping through hoops, and tirelessly giving of my resources, it, the relationship, died right before my eyes.  If you know of my Superhero Syndrome and my need to be needed, then you’ll understand how this hurts. 

Regardless of what pain I felt in my office that day, I had a dead plant, a trashcan, and a choice.  In the same manner, I had a dead relationship, an opportunity to walk away, and a choice to make.  I chose to count my losses, shake the dust from my feet, and end the toxic cycle of feeding something that refused to live. 

Self Pep-Talk: Chris, you are no less of a woman or nurturer because you couldn’t bring that plant back to life or because you chose to not try anymore.  You didn’t need to try anymore.  It was over, and the dead thing was zapping you of your strength.  You chose to walk away, let it be, and clear your space for something new.  You needed to do this for your peace of mind’s sake… that same peace that you fought to have. YOU FOUGHT FOR THIS PEACE!

I told y’all this feels like failure.

Talking to you… Maybe it’s time to evaluate what in your life is living and what is dying despite your care.  Keeping some one or something in this season that is dead and, more importantly, not meant for you will only be a space consumer that wears on your heart.  Yeah, it will hurt to let it go, but it’s just as detrimental to let it stay. 

Side note: I received a new plant the other week… not much longer after I trashed my old one.

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I’m sorry this was long.  I hope this made sense.

I hope this helps.
-Chris

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