In our backyard stands a beautiful tree. A liquid ambar that is at least 20 meters tall.
She makes a heap of colorful mess for three months of the year, but bathes the back deck in gorgeous, dappled shade for seven more. So we forgive her.
Not long before we moved here, the previous owner cut half the tree off. Top to bottom, straight down the middle. Like splitting a piece of firewood.
Like it was never there.
It always made me sad – this beautiful, damaged tree.
Last week I was sitting in the early sun writing procrastinating, when my eyes fell on the missing half.
And I was filled with a ridiculous delight to see that it’s growing back. Little by little, tiny branch by tiny branch, the balance is returning.
Gradually, and with the right amount of care – light, water and time – it is regrowing, rebuilding, reconstructing the part of itself that was cut away.
We all have a heavy half. The half that needs to get things done, that’s responsible, accountable. It’s the half that makes sure the kids get to school on time, won’t forget to pack snacks for the doctors appointment, pays the bills, turns up to work every day, sweeps the floor, mows the lawn and cooks dinner.
But what about your other half?
The half that is passionate, creative, spontaneous? The half that makes out with your husband, wears red lipstick, writes poetry, dances in the kitchen, dreams of great big trips, and reads for fun?
The half that fills you out and makes you balanced, well-rounded, whole. How’s that half going? Is it looking healthy and well-tended?
Mine? It could be better.
Photo by Brooke McAlary
Let me preface this by saying:
I really do love my life. I love my husband and I love my kids – wholly, completely, unconditionally. I choose the welfare of them over everything and keeping our family unit strong is my biggest job. I take it incredibly seriously.
But since our first child was born, I have been that tree. Half of me was unceremoniously cut off. Top to bottom, chopped down, thrown away. As though she never was.
My kids didn’t do this to me. I did this to me. Because I forgot about my other half. As though she never was.
I threw myself wholly into parenting. I didn’t accept help. I didn’t take time. I didn’t slow down. I didn’t give myself the care I needed to be a strong, protective, well-rounded, balanced tree.
And the years that followed saw me lean dangerously. Had the wind picked up, I would have fallen down. And a tree that has fallen down can offer shade to no one.
I’d cut off important parts of myself, pretending they didn’t matter. I pretended I didn’t need time alone. Didn’t need to write. Didn’t need strong, positive relationships outside my family.
But these things matter. A lot.
So here I am, tending the garden, working on my other half. And I’ve started to grow back. Different, but better.