“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted” – Christine Caine.
I started this post with a quote because when this one popped up on my news feed earlier it sparked a train of thought that in reading this post you’ve just bought a ticket to ride.
I’ve never battled through the tough stuff (as people seem to think). Instead I’ve been buried by it without having the strength to shift it, and have grown from that point onwards. In being buried, I was planted. Like a vine on the wall of a building I climbed from the low points in pursuit of sunlight; I climbed mountains one disaster at a time, growing new roots each time the rains washed away the soil that held me in place. Each time I nearly died, each time I nearly lost it all, each time I went back to my parents’ house and remembered why I was so desperate to leave it… I never fixed anything, I never overcame it. I simply stopped right there, grew new roots, and grew a new shoot. Because that was the only way to weather the storm. Even in life’s darkest depths, there was light when I reached for it. It was always the darkness that forced me to grow – I started this blog, I met some of my closest friends, I learned the value of life… All in some way as a result of tough times. There was never any other option but to start from the beginning again.
Each disaster became an opportunity for success – another time for me and my body to defy expectation, or for me to overcome other huge stresses which could have been far worse (but were still incredibly difficult to deal with). Again, because it had to be. I kept churning out grades, I survived despite the numerous times that I almost didn’t, I carried on when others wouldn’t have, but also when others wouldn’t even have batted an eyelid. People, even (possibly especially) at university, were impressed with that for some reason. They didn’t see all the times I almost lost it. They didn’t have the conversations I had. They didn’t understand the situation or the effect it was having on me. They saw what looked like success in the face of adversity. They saw the flower in the sun – the product of… I don’t even know what, because I’m not sure how I made it through.
But nobody taught me what to do if the rain didn’t stop washing away the soil – how to survive if I couldn’t anchor myself and start again. I became confetti – impressive at a distance, but in reality falling, hitting the floor, left to wither and/or trampled beneath high heels and fancy shoes until my colourful petals bled to brown.
Conversations with my uni parent usually remind me that things often seem worse in my head than they are in reality. I’d panic about being buried when in fact I’d been planted. We’d both admit that yes, things were rubbish, tough, completely ridiculous… But that despite the odds I would get through it. Those conversations had always been right. After the (usually justified) freak out, I’d take a day or two to get it out of my system, pull myself together, and spit out another grade, or manage to stay awake for two hours of lectures, or get out of bed every day for a week. Yes I had been buried, but it was up to me to fix that. It was up to me to define whether or not I had been simply buried, or whether I was going to grow aimlessly until I found fresh air again. I was the only one who could decide that I had been planted.
But eventually it became apparent that it isn’t that simple. Don’t ask me why, because I’m still not sure; but if you think it is, you are either deluded, or you’re a superhuman who has figured out this whole ‘life’ thing far better than I have (tell me your ways, I bow down to your awesomeness).
For the past couple of days, walking my dog as soon as I woke up and spending a couple of hours with next door’s puppy helped to briefly relieve me from the mess of thoughts stuck inside of my brain. It made things feel more survivable, but by no means made them ok. I just had something to depend on, and something to hold on to, and the familiarity of the place where I used to run all my worries away. Today walking through the woods and spending time with the puppy (and my lovely next door neighbours) wasn’t enough. I remembered why I found myself wanting to leave this place, was reminded of the feelings that are often generated in this house. Briefly, only for a flash… But it was enough to have me fighting back tears and wanting to run all the way back to London.
I am so lost. So, so lost. I can’t burden my uni parents any more because my conscience won’t let me bother them. And they were keeping me afloat. Nobody knows how close I currently am to drowning. Even with my cries for help, people do not grab hold of me, or offer me a float. I struggled for so long that I am breathing in water instead of air, my head is no longer above the surface. And yet, even with all this water, the seed of my motivation refuses to grow. It doesn’t matter if you’re planted and convinced that your buried or vice versa. Sometimes things that are planted never grow, and if they do, their survival isn’t guaranteed.
I am trying and failing, but eventually I will find a way to grow new roots, and maybe my petals will return.
Because even though right now I am buried under so much earth that I can feel the heat of the molten rock beneath me… Wait, I don’t think there is a ‘but’ to this metaphor. Let’s try again…
I’ve been planted in an environment that I’m not sure how to grow in.