My Own Garden

You know I once broke up with a guy because he liked to garden. This was many many years ago before I knew pretty much anything, and especially before I knew how confused and scared I really was. 

I distinctly remember, it was a beautiful sunny Sunday and I was down on my hands and knees planting bushes 1.2 meters apart, along a fence line of my then boyfriends back garden. I can see myself, even now, in my young 20’s as I rocked back on my heels looking over at the man digging a hole next to me, and I can still hear myself think, “What the fuck am I doing!?”    

After a couple of moments, I take a deep breath, get up and announce that I am tired and need to get a drink of water. As I walked towards the house, I don’t even look back to see if he had heard me. I am not even sure he looked up from his shovel. As I walked through the back door I did not even hesitate, I grabbed my bag and a few things like clothes and tooth brush, took my car keys and left. 

What a horrible thing to do to someone. I often think about what I did and how mean that was, especially now when I am in my own garden weeding and digging away. I look around and see all the care and growth flourishing and all the trees, bushes and flowers blooming, this garden is me. I guess that was the problem all those years ago, I was a person in someone else’s garden. 

I wonder what the girl jumping into the car all those years ago would think if she met me now. Me as a wife, mother and gardener, I even (try) and cook healthy meals. I am not sure she would like me, and to be honest I am not sure I would like her that much either.

The person I used to be came across so angry and people were nervous around me, which I secretly enjoyed, and at times, I did it intentionally just to hurt people. I can’t pin point the reason why, I guess partly because of the power you can have when you unnerve or upset someone and I was good at it. The other reason was that I knew the people I was with would get a kick out of it, then it just turned into a habit. 

However every time I was nasty, I would see myself whilst I was speaking, and a very small part of me would say “Stop! What are you doing? You don’t need to do this!” I am learning now that all I was doing was harnessing all that negative energy to keep people away, to cut everyone off before they left or hurt me, and then in the end I would do it because it was expected of me, It became my “brand” – Come and meet Allison, she can be scary.

But over the last couple of years I have been slowly changing brands, I will no longer be the bitch at the party, I will not talk behind someones back just to make the people around me feel comfortable, or make myself belong. I will no longer be that confused and scared little girl in someone else’s garden, I have my own garden now. 

I often wonder if I was to meet the younger me, what would I say? I could warn her about a few mistakes that she was going to make. To be careful around people, to take note of how they treat you and watch for how you treat them. I would let her know that it is not weak to be kind and gentle, infact this is a safer way to be. I could tell her that apart of being kind is setting boundaries and that deflection and avoidance will only hurt you. I would let her know she doesn’t need to float from one experience to the other, and that being still is hard but also the most powerful and beautiful thing you can do. Most importantly I would not tell her she was wrong, as she has heard that a lot already. 

But sadly this is not possible, so instead I just need to let that all be in the past. I need to understand that I was a frightened little girl who did not know the anger she was feeling was just being in survival mode. I need to love that girl for all her potential and the person she has turned into now. I need to move forward and not spend the rest of my journey looking back. I need to forgive the younger me for her hash behaviour, acknowledge her fear, and give her the love and acceptance she so desperately needed, but kept pushing away.

I wish I could explain all this to that poor gentleman, that was digging the hole next to me. To let him know that I was just not at that part of my life yet, infact I was in the wrong time zone, several decades to be precise. 

However, since that is not going to happen either, instead as I potter around my own garden I picture those bushes we were planting all those years ago, straight and perfect, nestled up along the back wooden fence, all of them growing lush and green, flowering with wonderful colours and fruit, supported by thick and bouncy grass all soft and trimmed. Displaying all his hard work, making the whole red roofed suburban street jealous, and I hope he wishes the same for me. 

Peaceful to everyone, be kind to yourself and stay safe.  

Published by allihoward123

Allison Howard main passion has always been story telling works predominantly with illustration and completed her MFA at Monash University, Melbourne 2012. Graduating with the Chancellors award for best Thesis. Allison Has worked and collaborated with many artists and exhibitions, in both Australia and New Zealand. To be kept up to date with Allison's latest activity and to view her current and archived works please visit Instagram @alli.howard123 and hit the follow button.

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