Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Arsonist's Garden

I know it's still dark before I open my eyes. The dog snorts and shifts in his sleep, his feet kicking my ribs. I grab my phone and watch the numbers 2:27 slowly come into focus. I've only been asleep for two hours but my brain has started to spin. It's slipped quickly into the same groove for the past month and I cannot turn it off. I am an encourager, a problem solver, a "let's talk about this, let it go, and get on with life"-er but not every issue is that simple and I'm growing frustrated with a problem I've been handed that doesn't have a quick solution. There may not be a happy ending and I'm hesitant to hope for something that might not happen.



An unexpected conversation with one conflicts with conversations with another and I'm left to wonder about who and what is behind it without any means of contacting the person in question. Sleep is elusive and different outcomes play like scenes in a movie. I roll over and close my eyes, platitudes rolling through my brain like a marquee. "Go with your gut." "Everything will be ok." "Have some faith and let it all go" "Maybe there's something to be learned in all this." "All this wondering hasn't solved a damn thing, so just deal with it when the opportunity arises." But I want that opportunity to be now. I'm tired of carrying this weight and make plans to see the person I need to talk to.

The retaining wall will be built on both sides of the brick walkway.

 But the event that was supposed to bring resolution doesn't happen and I'm left with a mouth full of words and no way to say them. I head for the basement and shut the door behind me. I tip my head back and yell at the Universe until tears, thick with salt, run along my cheeks and into my mouth. I sit on the bottom step, my head on my knees, until my breathing calms. "I don't want to feel so much. I wish I were a robot", I whisper to the walls. "You're being stupid", I tell myself. "We all have our talents", I respond. 


A new plan is made and I get in my car and drive in silence across empty country roads. I go straight until I have to turn and tell myself to think every thought and then leave them behind, mental confetti to litter the roadway but it doesn't work. I come home exhausted.

The wall will include three different levels.

Sitting at the table, I grab a stack of paper and cut it into strips. One strip at a time, I write down all the thoughts that gnaw at the edges of each day and chew into my sleep. They are frustrations, concerns, and hard things that might need to be done. I do not like them. I grab another stack and write down everything that's right in my life, before stuffing the strips into two different bags. 


The back garden is a mess. A series of long trenches dug deep into a slope for the retaining wall has turned the yard into a scene from a war movie. I sit on the top step on the brick walkway that runs between the two sides of the planned retaining wall and open the bags. I quietly read aloud each problem before letting the slip fall into the trench. Between problems, I read a slip that reminds me of what's right and beautiful in my life. I tuck these back into the bag when I'm done while the others cover the bottom of the hole. I grab my lighter, reach into the empty space, and quickly light the paper on fire.

An unexpected text that brought me to tears.

I am terrified and fascinated by fire, a feral childhood spent in California watching hills burn and cheering with my brother when orange flames from a road flare we'd ignited engulfed our turquoise polyester couch. But this is thick red Virginia clay, moist from rain and the pages smolder and smoke before burning. The ashes will soon be covered with concrete blocks and river rock. If I must wait to solve this problem, I will transform it into something beautiful. It is the only way to let it all go. I am desperate for the peace.


My brain grows still and I watch the ashes blacken the soil. "Maybe everything will be ok" I whisper. I look across the mounds of dirt and weeds and imagine a happy ending. "What are you growing in this garden?" I ask myself.

"Faith"




34 comments:

  1. You have made big changes, it takes years for the dust to settle and even then an odd thing will stir it up! You are doing it right! My Mom told me when I was going through a life changing event that the quickest way through Hell was straight through it! I am sending you prayers of healing and hugs!

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    1. There is wisdom in your words. This situation is completely separate from the divorce but the idea of having faith that you will get to the truth and sort out what needs to be done is the same.

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  2. I'm a fixer my nature too and, when I run into obstacles I can make myself crazy seeking out routes around them. But there are limits to how much control one person, no matter how focused, determined, or creative, can exercise. You have a clear internal compass and I trust that, when the opportunity presents itself, you'll know what to do and say. Time can feel like an enemy but, as a friend once told me, not everything is Chernobyl. Using the time interval as breathing space to regroup, as it appears you're already doing, is productive. Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks, Kris. Time gives clarity and helps you to emotionally untangle yourself from a situation. Life is complicated and so are people but patterns always tell the truth. It's the ugliness of the truth in front of me that I'm struggling with. But this too shall pass.

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  3. My garden is the single most restorative element in my life, and having it to lean on regardless of it's condition has propped me up many times. It sounds like you are not through the fire to the rebuild yet, but the rebuild is there waiting for you to find it I'm rooting for you.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. I think there's a lot of fire in front of me but I'm a survivor.

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  4. I hope you feel better now. Fire is cleansing. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. It was cathartic and I know what needs to be done. :(

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  5. Out of the ashes, a phoenix shall rise...

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    1. I had totally forgotten than phrase til I read your comment! I'm not sure if I'm a phoenix but I'll be wiiser for the experience, that's for sure.

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  6. Yes, everything will be ok. There's so much upheaval around right now I think you're surprised by how consuming it can be, but it will settle down, and when it does you'll find the level you thrive on again. Somewhere out of the blue you'll get an answer to what's bothering you but it's hard to force that. You're doing exactly what you need to right now just hang in there!

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    1. I know what I need to do and while there's a possibility there will be a happy ending, I've prepared myself for the opposite. But the reality of that really sucks. That's the hardest part. But life does go on and I have a lot of faith in my ability to make the choice that's right for me.

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  7. Sorry you're going through this. They say that whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger but what do they know. Sending you hugs and hope that you end up stronger instead of dead. (One hates when that happens:)

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    1. Then I should be made of iron at this point in my life! Hugs right back, my friend!

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  8. Tammy girl ... something that we should know by now (dare I say in our "mature" state) is, "one of the first people we should be kindest to ? .. is ourselves" .. so much of our lives is spent caring about others and letting ourselves be the last on the list .. being kind to ourselves, brings a better "kindness" from ourselves to others.
    You have been through so much upheaval .. you have to let some feelings wash over you .. cleanse your thoughts, and start fresh again .. this isn't any sage advice .. it is a dose of common sense and better understanding of human nature that we need.
    You are strong ... you are a host of amazing capabilities ... you are going to be just fine when you have your feet underneath you once again .. allow yourself that time and be whole again !

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  9. Thank you so much for all that love, Joy! I take things to heart too much sometimes. I can let a million things go but the things I take to heart really affect me. It’s both a strength and a weakness.

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  10. Hello Tammy, burn the negatives and bury them deep under several tons of bricks, concrete and soil. Hang the positives up in the window so the sun shines through them. Lots of love and I know you will make it through.

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    1. I love the idea of hanging the positives like flags that the sun can shine through. I may just do that!

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  11. Gardening and blogging are two important soulful activities that hopefully will help you to get through the dark times, dear Tammy. Being passionate and creative are wonderful characteristics but they don't necessarily bring you peace.

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    1. You are absolutely right about that. Passionate people just feel life deeper than others. Sometimes it’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a bane. My mind set about this has already shifted. I did what I needed to do and then let go.

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    2. Sun on the flags in the window time?
      Letting go ... is hard.

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  12. I know that inability to get back to sleep all too well - the girls at the local Tim Hortons are not at all surprised when I wander in at 3:30 in the morning, laptop in hand, and spend a few hours sipping coffee and catching up online...a welcome distraction.

    It's so easy to let our worries consume our thoughts - a concerted, deliberate effort is needed to help us embrace the good, the blessings in our lives. Sending you lots of love...and an IOU for a big bear hug when we see each other next, which can't be soon enough for me XO

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    1. I write sometimes in the middle of the night just to get everything off my mind. It allows me to capture those thoughts and then let go of whatever’s bothering me. It will be so good to see you again!!!

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  13. I hope you can feel more settled soon. You're going through a lot. You express your personal tumult in words beautifully.

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    1. Thanks, Jason. My life is both blissfully simple and profoundly complicated right now and the juxtaposition of that means I have plenty of time to torture myself by thinking things to death. But life goes on and all will be well.

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  14. The way you write fair takes my breath away at times. This was brilliant....so poignant! I hope you do have a happy ending to this problem, and if not, are able to let it go.xxx

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    1. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a happy ending but that’s life. Life goes on and I’m ok. It’s something I’ll have to deal with on a daily basis once summer is over but I’m wiser for the experience. As for faith, I have faith that there are better things waiting for me.

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    2. Actually, since I don't like absolutes I'll say that while this doesn't have an immediate happy ending, life and people can surprise you and the potential is always there for this to turn out ok in the end, even though the end may be quite a ways away.

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  15. A beautifully written piece about pain. Unresolved conflicts with others are seriously the worst. It's hard to not keep thinking and worrying when there is something like that going on. Wishing you resolution and peace!

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    1. Thanks, Indie. I've found the silver lining in this situation and have come up with a creative and unexpected way to deal with it. I don't believe in returning pain with more pain and adhere to the philosophy of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" so a plan is in place to make something beautiful out of this shit sandwich. It's not a piece of art or happy thoughts kind of beautiful but something much more real and with a powerful ripple effect. It's the sweet after the bitter.

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  16. Oh gosh, Tammy... Having no idea what you are going through, I can only wish you find some peace soon. I admire your resolve to tackle it head on, whatever it is. Lauren's Mom's wise words resonated with me, and I think you're doing just that. All power to you, friend - sending you lots of love and good karma.

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    1. Thanks, Anna. I tend to tackle everything in life head on and I’m having to play a waiting game, which is hard for me. But it’s given me time to work through the situation and see it for what it truly is. I’m at peace with how I’ve chosen to handle this. Karma exists in how we treat each other and I will not return pain with pain but I will protect my heart and move on.

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  17. I'm vague on the meaning of the text but love the photos. Looking at them, I wonder what part of Virginia you live in that the soil has such big rocks--probably not the coastal plain. I also think your house is lovely--a bright and happy house, although I'm surely better off in my blue, ranch-style house (from 1955) with its flat yard and no rocks except for some large landscaping rocks and a pile of AA lava in the backyard that I named Peggy Mountain, after my wife.

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  18. Kind of hard to understand; both, the writing on the post and the writings on the paper, but I know that your Heavenly Father... knows, and He knows what's best for you. Wait and you shall see the light.

    Cielo

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