I have a confession to make.
I’ve made a cactus spend a few years in my kitchen cupboard.
I don’t even remember how it happened at first. But every few months I would open that cupboard by accident, think “Holy shit, I totally forgot about the cactus!”, then immediately close it back. Just looking at it made me paralysed with guilt.
You know what’s even worse?
It took me a few years to acknowledge that yes, I have a dying cactus in my kitchen, that’s only dying because of what I did, I ran away from this problem a million times already, and it’s not helping.
Yes, I’m not proud of myself either.
No, the cactus is no longer hidden on the bottom shelf of my cupboard.
This is only thanks to our wedding succulents.
So, the succulents. We had a personalised wedding ceremony that was all about growing together, so as a symbol of our love we gave everyone succulents in a jar. We brought 4 of such cute succulents back home.
For the first 3 weeks I completely avoided them, knowing how many plants I’ve unintentionally killed.
Around the 4th week I gave up and bought an online mini-course that explained the 101 of succulent care. This is the kind of stuff you accidentally come across working for WooCommerce.
After the first two lessons I came to conclusion my succulents desperately need to move to a bigger home, so I bought some nice ceramic pots, decorated them with glitter, and then planted them carefully along with the poor cactus rediscovered among the candles, making sure I precisely clean off the roots.
I only saw the third lesson a few weeks later, and then I found out that my deliberate cleaning and separating every tiny succulent from one another harmed their roots a lot, as they won’t be able to get help from their neighbors anymore.
Now all of my friends and family have beautiful, happy and thriving succulents in their homes, and we have two big, shiny pots of some very sad, lonely, and miserable plants. I’m too embarrassed to show you how the other one looks like.
It’s not easy to make a confession like this.
Especially when I know that on top of it, I haven’t finished the article that had its deadline some two weeks ago, a few people want to start the training I’ve been putting off for weeks, I’m still yet to write the actual training material they could use in their work, I haven’t talked to some family members for ages, and there are dirty dishes piling up in the kitchen sink.
All I dream about is to shove it all down into the darkest corner of my cupboard, and never look at it again, or to change my name, jump on a one-way plane to Caribbean, and hide in the jungle for the rest of my life.
I’m not proud of myself, but should I feel guilty?
If my poor cactus could talk, he’d say feeling guilty was the only reason I ran away from him so many times when I could help instead.
He’d say I’d better acknowledge what I did with no shame or guilt, take the next problem out of the cupboard, and actually deal with it.
He’d say guilt and blame are both a distraction. The only thing that matters is the actual problem at hand.
And if there’s multiple of them, and they’re piling up, then running away from it all won’t make the pile any less.
He’d say the only way to change reality is to accept it as it is.
As painful or embarrassing some bits of it might be. You can’t just throw them away into trash… Well, you could, but then you’d be the person who threw a dying cactus into trash, and you certainly wouldn’t want to live with this knowledge for the rest of your life, would you?
Accepting reality isn’t easy. When you muster the courage to tackle the first problem, more issues might keep piling up. Other people might judge you that you’re not dealing with them fast enough. You might judge yourself even more.
But if you let shame and guilt overwhelm you, you’ll never give that poor cactus a chance for a better life.
Once you do, you’ll find out he’s not looking for revenge.
After all that he’s been through, he only wants water and light.