I’m a day late this week. This post didn’t come easily because I had to work through some emotions to understand what I need to say. Hopefully it’s worth the wait.
I’ve stopped watering the tomatoes for the year. This simple act, while making the plants look ratty, also sends the message for the remaining tomatoes to turn red. It’s a small act of tough love, if you will. Our nights are already getting cooler…I saw my breath this morning as I worked in the garden…so the plants’ lifecycles are nearing the end. In less than a week, I expect to be done with my tomato harvest, and I will have removed the black pots from the deck where they grow so as to prevent possible diseases.
Speaking of tomatoes, remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? It’s one of my favorites. I remember the beautiful line: “You know, Miss Ruth was a lady. And a lady always knows when to leave.” If you want to relive the tear-jerking scene, go here.
I haven’t always known when to leave. I’ve stayed in jobs and relationships longer than I should have, because I’m stubborn and assume there’s always a way through.
The problem is, when you stay longer than you should, some drama always ends up happening.
In a recent personal situation, I had become too involved in something that wasn’t my problem, and it was taking up too much of my time and energy. Since this is a small town and all, I wanted to handle it quietly, so for months I just made myself unavailable.
The individuals involved persisted. My time, my involvement, were expected — I was too accommodating for too long, so I take responsibility for teaching them that I would always have time for them.
As I grew more stressed, I pushed back pretty hard — and we ended up having a minor skirmish via e-mail.
For a few days I have pondered the emotions that have risen and what I need to understand about the situation.
And there it was: it was time to go. I needed to make it official. No finger pointing, no blame, no drama. Just a goodbye and wishing them well. It’s what I need to do to protect my time. It is time to stop watering the tomatoes of the relationship.
It took me longer than it should have, but maybe that’s okay. Maybe I needed time to be absolutely sure. Sometimes friendships go through rocky phases but come out the other side, after all.
It’s hard to watch the tomato plants droop. It’s hard to stay silent when one of my now-grown stepchildren makes a questionable choice (though less so now that I’ve learned I’m sometimes wrong!). And it’s hard to watch good people do foolish things.
Yet I have my own schedule, my own work, and my own dreams, and if I focus too much on taking care of others, I stop taking care of myself. The people I love, and Mother Nature, are fully capable with or without me, and I am free to take care of my own issues. Apparently, I still have plenty of those.
Have you ever stayed too long in a situation? Or, do you leave too soon?