Hard lessons I learned from my (dead) garden.

This past winter it snowed in Las Vegas after an unusually rainy winter. Because of all the extra wetness in the desert, my yard and everyone else’s were invaded by a strange type of weed. My neighbors weeds started to flower with tiny purple flowers, mine with white. While most responsible homeowners started to pull their weeds before they started to take root, I was more impressed by how quickly mine were growing. I was curious. I wanted to know what would happen if I didn’t pull them. Eventually I noticed white desert butterflies started to show up to our yard to snack on the flowers, and then little red sparrows came to snack on the butterflies. Spiders, beetles, flies, bees. Tons of bug started to come but so did the birds, and then the cats came too. I realized an ecosystem was growing here around my gigantic towering weeds. They grew as tall as me. I have never seen weeds so tall and so strong.

At one point I considered the idea of watering my weed garden to keep them alive and thriving for the insects and the neighborhood animals they would attract. But I didn’t because of what I thought my neighbors might think. So I didn’t water my weeds, and I didn’t water my trees, and I didn’t water my tiny vegetable garden I set up last fall. I let it all die because the weeds had taken over. It’s a big job to go in and take everything down. I wanted to throw money at it, hire someone and not think about it. But I don’t have the finances for that. I thought I’d go buy a weed whacker and chop em all down that way, but I watched my neighbors landscaper do a similar job and he used a lot more tools than just a weed whacker to get the yard clean again, so I didn’t have the finances for that either.

Then a couple days ago, I was gifted some plants that I really was hoping to grow successfully. It’s funny how when I ask the universe for these things and they literally show up on my very doorstep. I set them up in my backyard after not having even stepped on to my patio in weeks and I was immediately depressed. After a day of looking at these vibrant plants that came from a healthy yard, slowly start to wither and loose their vigor I realized I was trying to grow something in a completely dead environment.

Huge dead weeds that once attracted birds and butterflies were now brittle and dying covering my dog in sticks and thorns every time she went outside. Bad bugs started to move in and eat up the new plants I put out there. I had the wrong amount of sun, my patio was a mess. What had I done with my dream yard? Why had I let it all die.

I have quite a few Italian cypress trees in my yard. Over 20’ tall, and they cost a lot to maintain. Every landscaper I had called to come clean my yard no showed our appointments. Once I let them die they became even more of a problem because cypress like to fray as they die. So instead of a tall maybe gruff looking green tower of spiders, (because cypress become invested with spiders) Now I have these frayed ropes of death that literally are bleeding sap. When I got up close to them recently I cried. I felt bad for the tree. I was watching it bleed to death and I was emotionally destroyed to see the effects of my own negligence.

I was neglected as a kid. Ignored, locked in a room, separate from the world. I didn’t know how to tell people I was in pain, but there I was, bleeding. If only my parents came into my room and talked to me I would have been able to tell them.

Without thought, I grabbed the largest pair of paper scissors I had and began cutting down what ever weeds I could. I have been working on it for three days now and I’ve made progress but there some weeds I literally feel I’ll need an axe to take down (I’m not even exaggerating).

Today was a breaking point for me. Gardening is inherently emotional. Depressed people garden. Unhappy people who don’t want to be unhappy grow things. There’s no way you can dig through dirt and not dig through your own emotional bullshit. I cry every time I do a big project outside. Not because it’s hard, but because I see all my failures so clearly as I try to turn hard ground and weed out the enemies of the healthy environment.

This weed project has got me staring at myself in a mirror asking myself why I keep letting myself die.

My life as a bipolar person is a roller coaster. It’s hard for me to maintain stable moods. Weekly my life is a new phase of highs and lows. I get excited, I become depressed, I feel charitable, I become irritated, all within the span of a couple hours, some days, lately.

I let myself slip far down this last phase of my moods. I let myself go. I stopped doing all the things that make me happy. I stopped being disciplined, I stopped trying. I gave into fear and overwhelmed myself with anxiety. I let myself get depressed this time.

Just like my dying garden. I hoped the sun would come. Scorch the plants and they would shrivel back into the ground. Like a cartoon or something. I was naive and ignoring the reality of life. Everything takes work and maintenance. Everything has to be kept up with. Homeownership, gardening, spiritually growing. It all requires work.

In the shower I began to cry. I realized the weight of my own actions. I realized how neglectful I had been to myself and in turn began to neglect others. I wanted to be better than that though. I’m not someone who will die without a fight. This time of my life is so scary though. I’m in a season of total uncertainty. I’m lost and have absolutely no idea what happens tomorrow. And yet somehow I have faith that if I put my nose to the ground and create all this art I dream about I will save myself from this scary place I am in. No God is coming to save me anymore. No Heavenly Father is reaching out his hand and guiding me along. No one is here for me but my art. Praise be.

There is a beautiful facet to nature that I will always hold on to no matter how hard my life gets. Everything that dies, can create new life with hard work. The trees in my yard dying (if given their own time without human involvement) would eventually fall to the ground. That brown matter could then be mixed with green matter and that would create compost, that would create healthy soil. Death brings new life.

I am someone who struggles with the idea of death given the sudden death of both my parents triggering an existential/identity crisis in my life. However, this is the new idea I am attempting to embrace. Death brings new life. In order for things to be reborn, they first must die.

I have died many times in my life. I have let myself go completely dark and given up entirely. I have brought myself back every time. I’d like to think I’m smarter now, I’d like to think I know myself better than I ever have and I can actually maintain my own life, but in case I’m still learning I will hold onto this blog and remind myself, if you put in the hard work your situation will change.

I’m writing like a mad woman, yet not giving myself the credit. I’m (finally) finding my painting style, after 14 years of searching and being too afraid to experiment. I’m gardening again, keeping my house plants alive and thriving and expanding to my back yard now. I’m trying. That’s all I can do. Try. I don’t give half-effort. I’m an all in or all out type of girl.

I hope you’ll take a look at your yard today.
I hope you’ll ask yourself hard questions.
I hope you’ll be brave enough to work hard for change.
I hope you’ll stop getting in your own way.
I hope this all for me too.

Good luck.

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