Talking to the house.

I like the delete button. It solves the anxiety that comes when a piece is out of control and heading off the rails. I couldn’t make it do what I wanted. It was a literary teenager, all sulky and willful. Select all and goodbye.

I don’t want to write about the arguments I have with my eating disorder on the semiregular. A quick survey of my written works (and doesn’t that sound pretentious) reveals the longstanding hate-hate relationship, wherein she tries to kill me by destroying my sense of self and will to live, and I try to not get dead. It’s endless, and I don’t feel like discussing my eating disorder today.

It’s boring at times, being ill. Mostly because of the chronic. Problems with soundbite resolutions are better. While I sometimes feel aspirational and want to share the inside life of my eating disorder, other times, doing so seems nauseatingly repetitive. The conversations I have with the plants in my house are more interesting.

Possibly. Interesting is subjective, after all. I’m not crazy, either. Or at least, no crazier than the rank and file. Lots of people talk to plants. It’s only a problem when they talk back.

I’m not sure what happened, but I’m suddenly passionate about my plants’ growth and health. It’s a step up from the benign neglect that’s historical. I’ve been watering, feeding, dusting, and rotating on the regular. I even set up humidity trays.

I’ve added to my jungle with inside plants destined to stay: I’m going to need more horizontal surfaces soon. I also have some temporary seed trays soon to be transferred to the front yard flower bed. The cat likes the trays very much: the young shoots seem tasty. Luckily, I keep the misting bottle handy.

Lizzie, the Cat.

Nobody does a dirty look better than a cat.

I guess I owe the vegetation another apology. My plants get those regularly: I’m enthusiastic rather than expert. Talking to my plants isn’t new, but I have increased in frequency lately. It started with the apology I gave my Ficus after a round of heavy pruning. I was worried it would go into shock and die: I became attentive to compensate. I was not having my Ficus Benjamina keel over. It’s twenty-two years old: I’m committed to maintaining its existence.

The increased attention is working: my plants are thriving. Their good behaviour ensures my efforts continue, and then they thrive some more. It’s a vicious circle.

Plant guilt is not the only guilt I deal with. I also have house guilt. There’s so much that needs to get done. Not just seasonal chores or my “renovate the en suite” project. There’s ageing-corrections stuff. There’s replacement appliances stuff. It’s all expensive. I’m grateful I have a home: I’m not trying to complain. I’m also not trying to be neglectful. Houses are money pits, and sometimes, I’m not sure I can afford it. Prioritizing means some stuff will remain undone unless I win the lottery or figure out a way to collect one small penny from every bank account on the planet.

I wish I could do better by my house. I wish I could make it sparkle by adding fertilizer to a mister and giving it a squirt. I like my house. I appreciate the way it protects me from the elements. I’m grateful I have a place for my stuff. I’d give her expensive paint and a weekly cleaning service if I could. If I had the money, there’d be crews installing carpet and making semi-necessary electrical repairs right now. In lieu, the occasional compliment or expression of appreciation doesn’t seem over the top.

And if I give an occasional wall an occasional pat, or express gratitude for the way the structure is getting things done, is that really so bad? I read an article I can’t find about doing this very thing. It can help create an harmonious vibe in the house. [i]It’s not that I believe the house hears me. It’s not that I believe the plants listen to me (though perhaps they appreciate the extra carbon dioxide as I yammer on) or that the floor feels joy when I occasionally say thanks. It’s that doing these things puts me in a position of appreciation. Doing these things finds me practicing gratitude throughout the day.

I tend to anthropomorphize, to treat non-human things as though they have human characteristics. I’m not crazy. I’m appreciative. I like to think of it as an endearing quirk. And, if you look up information on how to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorder, mental illness, addiction, and so on, you will find that a practice of gratitude is always listed as necessary for recovery.

I feel better about myself when I’m kind. For me, part of kindness is being polite. Mostly. I’m absolutely done with tolerating racists and bigots. I’m no longer interested in turning the other cheek. I’ll leave that to the better angels. But I will keep on thanking my plants, and the french doors, and Siri. Not because of them. Because of me. I like feeling good about myself. It’s a good thing. Good feelings help when you’re dealing with mental illness. They help when you’re dealing with chronic pain.


[i] I’m not being pretentious. I rarely use “an” with “h”. It’s just that sometimes, the word suits it. “Harmonious” is a case in point.

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so things start to make sense. I suppose that once I figure out life, the universe, and everything (my thanks to Douglas Adams), I'll have nothing left to say. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

16 comments

  1. I’m grateful to my plants, because I’ve had this current batch for a while and they’re still alive, which is unusual in my world. I do a daily gratitude entry in my journal, and “home” makes a regular appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly feel that the corner of the room where most of them live (in the blog photos) is more calming and more oxygenated. I can even feel the humidity. Plants are good 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  2. beautifully put, Em. I love this piece. Being in a place of gratitude is so helpful and comforting. And necessary to recovery, as you said. I’m with you 100%. and your plants appreciate you keeping them appreciated! take a photo or two and post a few of those gorgeous plants!

    I’ve been there (select all, delete). It takes courage and bravery to lose and start over. Congratulations…writers know when they need to recreate.

    Please keep sharing. I love your blog. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The pics in the article are some of my babies 😊 I put them into word docs and snip them to remove the tagging data. There’s probably a better way but I don’t know it. That’s my house too.

      Like

  3. My grandma talked (talks?) to plants and they do much better than other plants tended to by other people, so there might be something in there.

    Appreciating floor… that really got me thinking because … it must be rough to be walked all over all of the time…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great. Way to make me feel guilty. LOL Before the pandemic, when I could not scream in the office or just lie down for a moment, I would throw pens against the wall when someone angered me over the phone… Thankfully, working from home has stopped that. For the most part.

        Liked by 3 people

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