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Watering Dead Plants

There is a hard truth that we find out as we get older. The truth is, not every relationship is meant to stand the test of time. Some people have expiration dates in our lives and you have to find out who is going to be your ‘ride or die’ and when it’s time to say goodbye. History is a beautiful thing to have with people. Having memories and experiences bond you, but these connections can’t be the only thing that’s keeping you tied to another person. When do we know when to let go? How do we decipher who we need to give up and those relationships worth nurturing? How many dead plants have you been watering?

This year has been an eye opener for me in many ways. Having a child who was hospitalized for 17 weeks through my family into a whirlwind of new challenges. Updating family and friends was not on my list of priorities. I was busy trying to manage my full time job, two children at home, the multiple appointments and meetings I was required to attend for treatment, education, doctor recommendations, medication adjustments etc. etc. My hectic and chaotic schedule didn’t allow for much room to relax or even relay information to the people around me. I was playing catch up at 2am, and I was pretty confident no one wanted a phone call or text at that hour to tell them our stressors and give the updates. I decided that was one thing I could take off my list. The results were pretty astonishing to me. I didn’t expect what happened next.

I continued to prioritize my threefold and myself over the course of #2’s hospitalization. I didn’t call or text anyone that was outside of our little family unit. Most days, I wouldn’t even know what day it was other than by whatever routine appointments I had each day. I was in survival mode, hypomanic and sleep was another friend I had lost contact with. I continued to write, but it mostly was ramblings and scattered snippets at 3 or 4am. After a while, my many phone conferences, zoom calls and my incessant phone calls at work made me weary of talking on the phone. The time that wasn’t spent on the phone with someone was spent with my threefold or ‘E’. Those late nights where sleep escaped me were the only time I had any time just for me.

After a while I figured if someone wanted to know what was going on with us, they would ask. I had enough going on to keep me busy, I figured I would hand them them one of my responsibilities, the only one I could take off myself. I made it a bit easier by posting a picture from visitation and updating impersonally to our ‘go fund me’ page. That was enough for some and not enough for others. It was telling for me which dead plants I had been watering without any return on my investment.

While I was busy putting all my time and energy into my family due to our current circumstances, I found out I didn’t have near as many people in my life or in my threefold’s lives that were down to ride this shitty ride with me. I also found that I had a few people who I didn’t expect to jump on our bipolar express that didn’t ask, just did. I was really hurt at how many people quickly distanced themselves from our trauma drama.

Calls and messages pretty much ceased from everyone other than my dad and my brother occasionally. Outside of those two I didn’t have anyone other than ‘E’ to vent my feelings to. I felt very isolated throughout that period. I wasn’t hiding, I was open about what was going on, but it felt like the people closest to me didn’t care, not the family members or the ‘so-called’ friends. I had more people I didn’t know reach out from my Facebook page for my threefold than my friends and family. I had more people that I had barely spoken to in years reach out to make donations and check on our family. I realized I had been too busy to water any of my relationships and so they were dying. Why was I the only one doing the watering? I needed to decide if I could revive them or if I even thought I should.

It was difficult and some people did get a piece of my mind. My ‘best friend’ and my dad were probably hit the hardest with my frustration with their seemingly lackadaisical efforts to do a simple wellness check. My ex was hit with the biggest amount of resentment for the lack of support, assistance and not checking in to see how the kids or I were making it through. Unfortunately, ‘E’ would get the unintentional and undeserving blowback that my frustration with others brought.

In the end, I decided to stop reaching out at all. I wouldn’t put forth any effort and see what happened. 2 weeks seemed like a decent marker and that’s how I applied the dead plant discarding method to my life. If I didn’t hear from someone within two weeks {dependent upon circumstances} then I needed to evaluate my continued contact with this person. If after 2 weeks they contacted me I would look at the facts and the initial message to reconnect. I decided if there was a pattern of periods where communication halted, I would look at reasoning behind the lack of communication, and I would evaluate how their absence or presence in my life made me feel. Dependent on my answers to those things I would make my decision. Most of the time, I would decide it was worth at least of conversation.

I emailed, I know informal, but it gave me a chance to think through my words and also a way to feel heard without interruption or getting sidetracked and defensive. I also felt this gave the other person time to reflect on a response instead of being emotionally reactive. It helped in some cases, others not. I am accountable to ending my effort, but if I’m the only one putting it in then it seems like a one-sided relationship. That was my thought process behind adding more distance to the fizzling flame of friendships.

I felt with the end of 2022 approaching, this would be an important message. If you have been watering dead plants in your life you can leave them in 2021. Know your worth. Don’t continue to allow yourself to be an option to people. No one needs fair weathered friends, because when the shit storm hits you need the people around you who will help you through it. Those that aren’t worth your energy will show you their true colors. Actions speak louder than words, but not near as often.

If you are not protecting your peace, who is? It is important to note we all get wrapped up in our own lives, get busy, and experience massive life changes that are all encompassing. The benefit of the doubt may be worth giving to those that have major stressors complicating their life, but it must be said that if anyone is not giving you the courtesy of communication about that then maybe you’ve fallen off of their priority list. Sometimes when you know someone is struggling you need to take the reigns on communication and check in, especially if you know that they are going through difficult times. Maybe, it’s just a plant not worth watering anymore. Guess what? That’s ok! It can either be rekindled at a later time or left in the past. Instead choose to turn the focus on your own priorities instead of dwelling on what was or could’ve been. Your energy will be best spent on yourself. The lesson remains: Don’t busy yourself watering the dead plants in your life. You’re not an option and should never allow anyone to treat you like one. Stay positive. You’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊~M