I am going to have to start this post with a story about poison ivy.
We had some coming up in the back of our property… about 6 ft away from where I wanted to position the kids play equipment.
We are also the kinds of people who really don’t want to have to use roundup or any kind of poison in our yard if we can help it and so the problem, plus our convictions about how we wanted to deal with it lead me down an online rabbit hole searching for non-toxic ways to deal with poison ivy.
My search led me to a permaculture website (a really, really cool approach to gardening, farming and landscaping - you should check it out).
And the writer explained that before you can eradicate anything (even poison ivy) it is helpful to understand what its ecological niche is. In other words… What role is the poison ivy playing in the ecosystem?
We live in a wooded area and before there was a neighborhood, there was a forest. Poison Ivy’s unique role in a forest is to protect it. It will only pop up where the ecosystem is vulnerable to invasion and in my case, I had poison ivy growing at the edge of my backyard ecosystem where it was vulnerable.
I don’t have to leave it there, I also don’t have to poison it (and everything or everyone around it) - I just needed to find a way to protect my ecosystem in a different way, so that the poison ivy would no longer be necessary. Once I provided my eco-system with a safer alternative, the poison ivy would cease to grow. Needless to say - next spring, instead of poison ivy, the vulnerabilities in my ecosystem will be protected by sunflowers. No round-up necessary.
You might be wondering what poison ivy and sunflowers have to do with bitterness.
Well, much like poison ivy - difficult or even potentially destructive emotions like resentment and bitterness only ever grow because of vulnerabilities or a need that is arising in your emotional ecosystem.
Resentment and bitterness grow when our boundaries with others are weak or non-existent. It crops up to signal that something or some part of our lives needs protection, but it is also potentially harmful for others when we leave it there too for long and can cause serious damage if we or others get tangled in it once it matures.
We often try to deal with resentment or bitterness the way we try to deal with poison ivy - pull it out, we bring out the round-up or we just let it grow - we uproot ourselves from relationships, we poison our relationships, or we just ignore it and it keeps on growing until thats all there is.
A healthier alternative would be to ask yourself - what is this resentment or bitterness trying to protect? What vulnerability in my relationship or in my self-care is it trying to draw my attention to?
My poison ivy was an invitation to strengthen and protect my eco-system. It was also an opportunity to grow sunflowers.
Your bitterness and resentment is an invitation to care for and love yourself and others safely.
It is an opportunity to deepen mutual trust and respect in your relationships, to truly be loved for who you are and, it is an invitation to take back the power over your life that you have relinquished or are giving to others.
It’s time to plant sunflowers.
It’s time to practice self-care.
It’s time to establish or repair boundaries.
If you are a woman battling bitterness and burnout - or if you’d like to avoid it altogether - I would like to invite you to my free facebook community for women who are doing just that - we would love to have you join us!