Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I am a survivor

 All of the pictures in this blog are of the same plant in my garden.  Duh ... you say.  I think I can figure it out by myself ... you might also say.  And you'd be right.

However, have you asked yourself the question why I would take - and display - so many pictures of one plant?  Of all the plants in my garden, what makes this one so special to me?

This plant and I have a lot in common.  We've both been traumatized. We've both survived.  And we're both blooming.  Slower than most other plants in the garden.  Stunted surely.  But glorious nonetheless.

I love the colour yellow and I had seen a peony in a catalogue that was yellow.  I wanted it.  Badly.  Problem was that it was very costly.  Over $100 just for the root itself - with no guarantee that I would get a plant out of that root.  I vowed to myself that if I ever saw that plant - or any yellow peony, it would be mine.

The plant on the left is not the one I saw in the catalogue.  It is a tree peony.  But hey!  it's yellow - and that was all that mattered to me at that moment.  The colour.

When I planted it in my garden, I applied too much force getting it out of its container - and broke off the stalk at the root.  Not good.  Not good at all.  Plants come with a guarantee - if they die of natural causes.  Not if the gardener breaks them.

I really really wanted that plant.  So I did what comes naturally to me.  I held body and soul, that is stalk and root, together and planted it deeper than normal.  Packing soil around the broken stalk.  Hoping it would knit itself together - and live.  I watered it deeply to give it a better chance to develop a good root system - and life.  Then, I put my hands on it and prayed for it.  Having done all I could at that moment, I left the plant in God's hands.  The ultimate gardener.

Not to say that I abandoned this plant figuring I could bow out of active duty now that God was in charge, because I didn't.  I kept watch over that plant daily.  It was a dry, very dry summer.  Every time the plant drooped, I was there with the watering can, watering it deeply.  Each time it perked right back up  Time after time, I applied more water.  Ever vigilant.  Ever hopeful.

The next spring came.  Everyday I watched for signs of life.  Finally they came.  Starting with tiny bursts of new growth which became ever larger as the days passed and the growing season progress.  Hallelujah!  The peony was alive!  However, the worst wasn't over yet.  The rabbits also discovered my little survivor - and pruned it down.  Again, it lived.  Problem is that tree peonies bloom from old growth.  Unless my survivor could grow up without pruning, it was not going to bloom.

I appealed to a "higher source" for help:  Papa Bear.  He put a tomato cage around the plant and fastened chicken wire around it to discourage the rabbits.  Now the waiting game began - again.  The watching, the waiting, the anticipation all over again.

Meanwhile, I bought a second yellow tree peony and planted it somewhere else in the garden.  This time I didn't break its stalk.  This time, the plant was protected from the rabbits from the beginning.  This plant didn't suffer any of the traumas the first one did.

A year or so passed.  The second, untraumatized tree peony bloomed.  The traumatized one still struggled to grow, to catch up.

Year three.  A bud!  My survivor was going to bloom!  Yes!  She was still smaller than her non-traumatized counterpart, but she was blooming!

 Not only alive, she was blooming!

I resemble this plant.  I have complex PTSD from many different life situations dating back to childhood.  Verbal abuse.  Schoolyard bullying both by students and teachers.  Molestation.  Just to name a few.  I've struggled to survive the trauma.  Now I'm struggling to recover.
I don't remember where I was in my journey when I planted this peony.  Probably somewhere between my first two bouts of workplace bullying.  In a dark place.  A place of anger.  A place of sorrow.  A place of unresolved issues.  A place where there were no answers to my questions.  A place I never want to go back to again.

Which is why the colour yellow meant so much to me.  A bright spot in an otherwise dark time.  Hope.  For a brighter tomorrow.

That is why this plant's survival has meant so much to me.

At the time she first bloomed a year behind the her "healthy" sister, she was still noticeably smaller than the other plant.  Less blooms.  But blooming happily away nonetheless.  A survivor. My survivor.

Like this plant, I am behind others in my ways - especially emotionally or EI as they now called it: emotional intelligence.  I've struggled to recover from all the traumas of the past - with new ones occurring in the present - most noticeably my second bout with workplace bullying.

My road continues to be tenuous in some ways.  Yet spring always comes.  New growth.  New life.  Blooms in their season.

I've been stunted.  I've needed extra care.  From friends.  From counsellors.  I've needed protection from unfriendly aspects of my environment just like my peony needed protection from the rabbits. I've needed extra "watering" so that my roots would go deep and enable me to survive.

Yet, as I work through recovery there are times when I thrive.  Times when the buds come.  Times when the buds spring forth into glorious blossoms.  Time when I know that I will survive.

And I will bloom again.

Like my plant, I am a survivor.

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