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To Plant Or Not To Plant - My Need for Roots

My need / desire for home runs deep. A need that wasn't ever filled until I met John and of course that itself was such short a time span experienced that even now I sometimes wonder if I made it all up in my head, the cute house, the loving husband, the shared respect and love. I sometimes wonder if I made up this fantasy life of unconditional love and safety because it's what I longed for and dreamed of for so, so long. In the years that I John and I were married my home was with him, happily, blissfully with him wherever he was, that was my home. Of course when he died I became untethered once again and the word and actuality of "home" was just a nice idea the existed for other people.

Truly, I've longed for a place to fit, to belong my entire life. A place that was safe, that was stable, that would always be consistent. A place that would be home. I’m certain this is because as a child there wasn't really a consistent place where we lived, and really none of those places ever felt like home anyway, mostly they felt like a temporary layover till the next crisis moved us somewhere else. We lived in all sorts and types of housing from dangerous neighbors, to simply neglected spaces, and sometimes we lived nowhere. It felt like each time I began to breathe in a space it was suddenly gone and so I learned quite young to not expect anything good or even tolerable to last. 


I suppose that is why even as shocking and traumatic as John's death was, I was not exactly surprised. Why wouldn't he die when I had at last allowed myself to breathe a long, deep breath and felt, dare I say it? Safe at last. However, not even a full month after I acknowledged that I at last felt safe, on that rainy morning of baking, with Jack Johnson playing in the background and John working away in the basement when I thought to myself, "this is my favorite place on Earth" did John die. Bam! In an instant I was as vulnerable and as scared as I ever was as a child.


His death wrenched away every morsel of safety I had managed to find in my life. Exactly in the moment of learning that John was dead, my life imploded, my hard won safety net failed, and I found myself looking around our pretty house and I didn’t feel housed or sheltered there at all anymore. I only felt a sorrow so consuming that I was nearly swallowed by its hunger.


To help ease that harrowing sorrow I moved nine months later and there I found some solace from the memories of a life shared, of love experienced and of a marriage truly lived. I am still grateful for having found the courage to move then. I am still grateful I was brave about moving and for the healing I found in my little house, in a little town in the country.


Now, I find myself in transition again, moving from a place that helped me heal and absolutely sheltered me when I most needed it, and I feel sad and anxious and even a bit frightened that the next place won't ever feel like home. But over time, through some trying situations, I’ve learned to not hold too tightly to places, and maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.


Since there was so much uncertainty in my childhood I have in the past been known to be barnacle like and not let go when I should of, or as a book I read a long time ago described it, often I found in hindsight that I should have let out the long breathI was holding, determined to be extremely patient – and moved on instead of staying and hoping where I was would improve. I know I’ve often resisted change because the unknown is frightening, and also because in my life both as a child and as an adult, change and certainly moving has almost always occurred because of sad or disturbing happenings. Job losses, divorce and being widowed- I moved for all of those reasons-not one of them a happy one.


So, although change and a new house immediately bring up excitement for many, it is absolutely terrifying for me, even now when it is a happy reason to move. A new marriage, a new page to write on, a new space to make our own and invite our children into with us. I'm finding that I'm excited but crazy scared too.


I'm trying very hard to just let be what will be and embrace what is here right now, without telling myself any long-term stories about the house we are moving too. I’m trying to embrace the adventure and fend off the fear of the unknown with the knowledge every widowed person holds, we do not control the outcome of anything, we never did, and we don’t now. No amount of worrying or inner storytelling can change what will be.


Still, my healing touch therapist told me recently she had been in her house for 45 years! Oh, I can't imagine such a wonderful thing!  I looked around at her cozy, well kept home and exclaimed my delight in knowing that was her place, of being able to plant asparagus and be there three years later to eat it, of having roots- true roots to the land she calls her home. But I was surprised at her response, “Well, yes we do love it here, but Jenny, my husband and I, we are root bound here and that's not good either!”


Perhaps that is true as well. It can certainly stunt the growth of any plant if it isn’t free to search out the nutrients and life giving forces it needs. I can see how it would put a damper on things like travel or adventure or dare I say it, embracing change! But for a potted plant like me, that has bounced around in the back of pickups, old cars and U-Haul’s more than I care to remember, root bound in actual land sounds pretty good to me. It’s all in a person’s personal perspective I suppose. The question for now is, to plant or not to plant asparagus?

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Comment by only1sue on May 28, 2015 at 1:21pm

I have had my house for 46 years but only livedi n it 35 as we had some years away.  I don't feel root bound I feel cosy.  The house nurtures me, my roots are spread in a good place.  But I will move into more appropriate housing some day.  I agree moving is hard as we moved a lot when I was young, which in my case made me determined not to once the choice was mine.  We all operate in a different way.  I hope you find that image of home you are looking for and make it come to life again.

Comment by bis4betsy on May 22, 2015 at 4:44pm

Great perspective!  Thank you for sharing.  What a perfect description from your therapist- I feel "root bound" here in my home of 29 years. Your courage is giving me courage to keep moving so I can keep growing. 

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