Monday, April 18, 2011
The Boulevard Cypress
Years ago my mother bought four 12-inch Boulevard Cypress trees and planted them in the side garden. Now they stretch 15 feet high, reaching out towards the grapes and blueberry bushes and shading the arbor where the hammock swings in summertime. The trees are tall and spindly and their rich green needles are shockingly soft on top where they meet the sun. Underneath, though, the branches are skeletal - rickety and clumped with dead,wet, brown needles.
The Saturday after D$ and I's biggest fight I spent three hours pruning the Cypress. I delicately separated the dead needles from bright green new growth. I lopped off entire branches at the trunk. As I pruned,* I thought. These needles and branches I was clearing away had once been helpful to the Cypress. They were a part of its history; had formed and fed the Cypress as it made its way up to the sun. Now they are unneeded, hangers-on that marred its beauty and, most importantly, used up energy that could be used to move up, on, out towards the light. When I was done the Cypress stood proudly, slightly more naked but much more beautiful.
What D$ and I have been dealing with - the old emotions and defenses - are like these brown needles. They are a part of our history and in the past perhaps they were useful. Perhaps they helped us protect our fledgling identities or shielded us from old dangers. Now, however, they are not needed. They are holding us down and using up energy that could be used to bring us closer to light.
The last several weeks have shown me just what my dead branches consist of: anger. Vehement, nonsensical anger. I get frighteningly angry at the drop of a hat and viciously take that anger out on those I love most.
It has to stop. I don't know if I can do it all by myself but I do know that I cannot make it D$'s responsibility to help me. He has been on the wrong side of the broom** one too many times and, rightly, needs me to figure this out on my own. So for basically the first time in my life, I am going to start counseling.***
*My mom called it "poodling" and I sang a nonsense song about tree-poodling almost the whole time I worked. No one said serious thoughts couldn't be accompanied by made-up songs.
**No I never hit anyone with a broom. If you can name the song you win.
***I haven't started yet, but I will. I am trying to find a counselor but sort of don't know how to do that. Am I just supposed to pick from my insurance companies list and hope are good? Terrifying. If anyone in the Portland area has a referral I am all ears.