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?
Sadly, I keep thinking “I CAN make things work out!” I think I’m the little Engine who Could… BAD move. But as they say “There is a time and a season or reason for everything.” I keep learning. Good for you for taking hold of the situation to take care of you!. We sometimes forget that WE COUNT too!
Yeah, I can be the Little Engine Who Could, too. It’s a great quality on many levels, but it can definitely bite us sometimes.
I held a job at a company for close to twenty years (a month shy, in fact). I should have left after five, when they announced a merger with our biggest competitor. It was pretty well all downhill from there, but I was determined to hang in there with my friends. Of course, after a while they all left, and I was stuck there looking like a big meshuginah. The place was horrible for my health (I gained over a hundred pounds and I had enough blood pressure for two people), and two and a half years later I had… Read more »
John, I’m so glad you shared your story! Hijack away! I had a couple of jobs that were really toxic for me, too. Although my health problems weren’t life=threatening, I ended up disabled for a while due to the job-related stress…so I can appreciate what you went through, even if I didn’t exactly walk in your shoes. On my last job, when I saw it was time to go, my husband and I decided I would stay home and write. The month before I left, I got a promotion — I think they knew I had one foot out the… Read more »
Sounds as though you have made a good analysis of the situation and acted for the best. AND I’ve learned something about tomatoes!
The more I look back, the more I realized how much I wanted to get away. Yesterday, after ending the situation, the husband and I walked into town, got a pot of tea, and sat around chatting and reading the paper. Then we wandered over to the Wednesday farmers’ market. This morning, a massage. I’m starting to feel a lot better!
A burden has been lifted.
Indeed. I’m starting to feel much better.
I’m always paranoid about leaving too soon, so I stay too long. I’m working on that, but I don’t think it’ll be solved any time soon.
Yeah, I may be working on this one until I’m in the grave.
It is hard for me to say goodbye, but when it comes to maintaining a relationship that robs me of my energy, I’d like to think that I am quick to react. Especially when it comes to my music or my writing, I am very quick to end a relationship that tries to come between those two things. Besides that I believe that everything changes, nothing remains the same. So in my life as in the life of others there are not constants.
You’re absolutely right, everything changes. I think I was resisting the “flow” of life in this situation. Some people are meant to be in our lives forever, others for a time.