As I walk around my growing garden before sunrise, noticing how each new plant is faring I dig out the tiny weeds before they become troublesome. I tie at an angle each main shoot growing from the base of the climbing roses. I look for signs of stress for each plant and then find a way to alleviate it so the plant can thrive in the place I planted it.
I think about the word ‘tend’. I am tending this garden to the best of my ability. Yet I also think about the fact that as I grew up nobody tended me.
Infant-child abusers are consumed with their own existence. I can’t even say that they are truly consumed with their own self because much of the time their connection to their self is NOT what is operating in their life. Their Trauma Altered Development that most of them experienced in their own earliest stages of life interfered with the development both of their self – and with the development of their healthy connection to this self.
What we who were abused in the early times of our life had done to us was anything but a reflection of being ‘tended’. I took a glance at this word ‘tend’ and immediately found that it is connected to ‘attend’ and to ‘attention’. What most strikes me is that all of these words are related to the action of COMPANIONSHIP.
And here immediately with the word COMPANION is the connection to FOOD – to sustenance – to the mutual sharing of nurturing.
Infant-child abusers are NOT the companions of their offspring. As I wander around the many adobe pathways I have created as I built my garden, as I tend to the plants that are growing along the way, I am actually in companionship with each one. We are sharing this life. They, each according to their nature, are sharing their life with me and are helping to sustain me just as I am doing my best to help each one grow into the best plant possible.
As we survivors participate in our own healing from abuse and trauma we are always mutually sharing a life journey with all life around us. We can make choices and decisions now about how we wish to be in the world that we could not make when we were little. Certainly any physiological trauma-related changes that we experienced have altered the body-brain we live with in this world, but those changes DO NOT exclude options for healing every step of the way along the garden path of our lifetime.
A plant cannot usually eliminate the weeds beside it that are competing for its nourishment. It cannot get up and walk away from the base of a tree that is blocking its sunlight. We can pay attention to what we need, take a look at what is blocking our best growth and development in the present, and make positive changes to the best of our ability.
There are both passive and active ways to make changes in life. A cactus by nature preserves moisture within its structure. A snapdragon cannot. Some plants in my garden amazingly survived our 2 below zero deep freezes of last winter. Others did not and vanished. All abuse survivors are strong and resilient, capable and clever at surviving. The question I ask myself right now is, “What are you going to do today to TEND to yourself in the best way you can today, Linda?”
I am going to pick up my seven newly hatched soon-to-be hens this morning! I can hardly wait to see their fuzzy tiny bodies hunting and pecking around like they know exactly what they are doing – even without having a mother around to show them!
There are many, many things I know that I certainly DID NOT learn from my mother. Any attention she ever paid to me was of the harmful and abusive variety. But that never stopped ME from growing into an amazing and wonderful person. I just need to remember this and get on with tending – something I am pretty good at!!
Soon I will have seven more little ones to attend to! Off I go into the sunshine to get them!