Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Pulling Weeds

The mind is a funny thing. When it is lacking in a specific area it tends to make up for the loss in strange and unusual ways. We, as a society, see this every day. The crazy homeless people on the side of the road or the "eccentric" activities of our neighbors are all examples of this. I recall watching a short movie in my 8th grade health class about anorexia, and it explained that often this disease is less about weight loss and more about control. When a person feels that they have lost control in some area of their life, or in all areas of their life, they look to anorexia - because controlling their eating habits is one thing that they have absolute say over.

I was out at lunch just a little bit ago and noticed that the weeds are coming back for the year. Yes, spring is upon us, and with it comes the ugly stalks of weeds growing out over the grass and in the plant beds here at work. Sister, out at lunch with me, noticed a weed growing at her feet. She reached down and plucked it out of the ground. It was such a tiny weed - little more than a couple of leaves sticking up out of the mulch - but she noticed it. As I looked out over the rest of the beds and across the lawn I saw many more of these little blemishes peppering the ground. It brought back memories of last year - last year when my mind compensated for it's troubles with weed-pulling.

At this time last year I was at the end of my rope. I was stuck in a marraige that no longer made me happy and I had no idea how to get out. I was afraid. I didn't know if I could make it on my own. At my worst times I wondered if "this" was as good as things would ever be...if "this" was all I could ever hope for. I felt out of control and unable to fix things. I felt like my life was overgrown with problems that I could not seem to get a grip on. I was completely lost.

One day at work on my way down to the shop, like I had so many other days, I noticed a very large and ugly weed growing just on the lawn side of the walkway. I stopped and yanked the weed out of the ground and felt tiny twinge of pride as I looked at the immediate improvement made to the look of the walkway. This tiny action, and the resulting feeling, was the most rewarding and probably best thing that had happened to me in weeks. However, it was also the beginning of one of the most mentally unstable times I've ever had.

You see, I remembered that good feeling that came with pulling that weed and it became an obsession. Every afternoon when I walked down to the shop I took a wad of paper towels and a plastic bag with me to pick up any weeds I might find on the way. I stopped eating on my lunch hour, opting instead to walk the campus at work and pull weeds from the sides of the roads and walks and pacing back and forth across the lawns looking for any more imperfections to pull from the ground. It was late spring and early summer and insanely hot outside. I would come in from my lunch hour dripping and on the verge of heatstroke, but I could not stop. On days when there had been a bit of rain and the weeds were thick I felt triumphant! On those days when I came in with few "kills" I was dejected. Pulling weeds had become my sanctuary - the only thing that I thought about. Since I was unable to pluck the negativity from my own life, I depended on pulling it from the ground. I'd crossed over into a completely insane activity.

Time passed and the seasons changed. Autumn came and everything started to die. The wealth of weeds that grew across the grounds at work stopped, and I was crazy. I fell further down into a depression and was quite mentally unstable. It's amazing the profound impact that losing that "hobby" had on me. While it was an unimaginable tragedy at the time, I look back and realize that losing this release was good for me. Mentally, I went off the deep end. I was g-o-n-e GONE. But from that mental rubble, I emerged and got out of my unhappy situation. In September I left my marraige. Today I am so much happier. I looked out today at lunch across the lawn at the weeds and imperfections and was able to see them for what they were - just weeds. I didn't have to go out and start picking. It felt wonderful...it felt SANE.

To sanity, or at least a little of it!



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