What Grows in My Garden?

Would you like to know what my garden is like? Before I tell you, why don’t you stop and close your eyes and picture in your mind’s eye what you think my garden looks like? That’s right, conjure up the image that forms when you think of me and what my garden might be like. Take your time, move around it and ensure you have given it due consideration as you generate the image. Have you done it? Did it take you long? I suspect you managed to envisage it rather quickly didn’t you, after all, you are well-known for your amazing imagination aren’t you? I often find I have to apologise for your fantastic tales and over the top comments, but that is to be expected of somebody like you. Anyway, let’s leave your behaviour to one side for the time being (although I will return to it when nobody is looking, you can be assured of that) and let’s consider what you created in your mind.

I should imagine that the landscape you have formulated is one of two outcomes. I expect that some of you will have pictured nothing but concrete. All plant life and flora banished by a solid slab of grey cement that has solidified into an impenetrable barrier that stretches in all directions, lifeless and uninspiring. Once there might have been a flourishing and verdant garden but it has been banished by this concrete covering which has extinguished anything that grew or blossomed. If the concrete carbuncle is not what you saw in your mind then you will have opted for the alternative. You will have pictured solid, barren and lifeless soil which will not sustain anything of beauty. A toxic and poisonous stream flows through the centre of it, dead fish floating on their backs as they drift lifelessly along. Not even algae grow on this polluted stream. The few trees there are in this garden are dead. The bark grey and lifeless, forlorn limbs stretching into a dark grey sky, where there is always cloud. The branches and twigs are leafless. The bushes consist of brambles which hinder anybody who might try and move through this uninviting place. There is no grass and there a few brown, dried-out husks which suggest they might have once been something greener and vibrant. There are no sweet smelling flowers here, only the awful stench which rises from the slow-moving stream which looks more like treacle that water. Even the weeds are few and far between, struggling to find any sustenance from the sterile soil.

Is this what you saw?

Come and follow me as I take you into my secret garden. I produce a key from my jacket explaining that very few people ever get to see my secret garden but I am letting you inside because you are special and I like you. I open the thick gate and usher you inside. You do not see me hurriedly lock it behind you since you are busy staring at the beautiful garden that rolls out before you. Capability Brown must have laboured long and hard here. The lawn is flat and even, the grass has been rolled so that stripes have formed and there is not one blemish to be seen amidst the green, green blades. The edges of the lawn have been carefully cut so that no grass overhangs so that there is a distinct line between the lawn and the flower beds. The soil looks fertile, well-nourished and is free of weeds. A dazzling array of flowers grow from this well-tilled soil. Strong stalks reach up towards the azure sky, shiny leaves sprouting from the stalks before the injection of colour appears. Every shade of the rainbow is represented amongst the many varieties of flower that flourish in my secret garden. Brilliant blues, fiery oranges, ruby reds and sunshine yellows abound. The flowers have short petals, long petals which move in the gentle breeze, there are bell-shaped flowers, trumpet shaped flowers and others shaped like stars. White, purple, scarlet and ochre all combine to create this tapestry of beauty. A stream gurgles as it passes through the garden, cutting across the magnificently manicured lawn, so that an intricate bridge has been created allowing one to traverse from one side to the other. Bushes ring the flowers, an expert in topiary having crafted them into sensational shapes. Beyond the bushes are the trees, tall and trimmed so that they form a fence around this paradise. You stand on the edge of this magnificent garden utterly transfixed. The scents waft from the roses, from the lilies and the sweet William combining to create a heady concoction of fragrances. You are over awed by this display.

“Do you like it?” I ask.

You are dumb-founded, unable to speak. All you can muster is a slow nod as you feel a tear trickle down your cheek from your left eye as you are overtaken by how beautiful it all is.

I beckon to you and you follow me to a nearby apple tree which is festooned with fruit. The red and green apples hang from the branches and I pluck one and pass it to you. You smile and take a bite anticipating how fresh and crisp the apple will be. Your teeth easily sink in as you are surprised to find the flesh of the apple soft. You taste bitterness in your mouth and instinctively spit out the piece of fruit.

“What’s wrong?” I ask as I select an apple too.

“It is sour,” you explain. I take a bite from my apple and you hear the crunch as I take a chunk from it. I chew and through the mouthful explain that mine tastes fine. I hand the apple to you and you bite into it. It is soft and again tastes sour. Confusion rises inside you as you look at the apple and see a maggot wriggling beneath where you have bitten into the apple. You hurl the apple away as I invite you to sniff a magnificent rose nearby. You lean in and inhale its perfume, pulling the petalled head towards you. There is no scent and instead you sneeze. As you let go of the rose you give a short cry of pain and find that a thorn is wedged in your finger, the blood already spooring from the wound and trickling down your finger. You sneeze again,your nose irritated by something and you keep sneezing as your eyes water. You stagger away from the rose still sneezing and into a bush but it is not the sculpted creation you saw moments earlier. Instead, you feel a prickling sensation as you are stung and realise you have stumbled into a bed of nettles. Pain rising you stagger away, eyes streaming and make for where you recall the stream is hoping to use the cool, clear water to wash away the irritation you have suffered. You can just make out where it is through your blurred vision as you drop to your knees only to cry out again. You have knelt on some thistles.Where did they come from? This lawn was flawless before. You reach out flailing for the stream but there is nothing, The water has gone and the stream has dried up. You feel something wrap around your left wrist and as you try to wipe away the tears from your eyes with your free hand, you feel pain as a vine begins to tighten about your wrist. You pull trying to free yourself from it and twist around to call to me for help.

The smooth lawn is no longer there. Gone is the rolled grass. Instead you are looking at a mountainside, rugged and steep. You yank your arm as the vine is trying to pull you and look upwards. You can see me standing there smiling at you, looking down from my lofty position atop this mountain which has sprung out of nowhere. A cold wind begins to blow as you shout for help, another vine beginning to snake towards you. I tilt my head as if I cannot hear you, a smile still plastered across my face.

“Help me, what is happening?” you shout.

“Nothing,” I call back, ” I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“This. The garden, it has changed,” you yell above the gathering wind. You see that I am shaking my head.

” Not it’s not, everything is just the same, Beautiful isn’t it?” I reply.

You frown. How can I not see what has altered? The beautiful glade has become a hostile and hurtful place. How has this happened to you? You try and crawl forward and I stand watching you, offering no help as more vines snake towards you, the ground beneath you hard and stony. The vines wrap about you and threaten to pull you into the abyss below you. All the while I stand and watch smiling.

Welcome to my secret garden.

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17 thoughts on “What Grows in My Garden?”

  1. Some similarities with the yacht piece you wrote last month but I like this one better:-)

    It’s funny that you chose the ‘Secret Garden’ allegory to illustrate the false self! I just finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances H. Burnett to my daughter. In the book, I identified two narcissistic characters: Mary (the main character) and her cousin Colin (the “malade imaginé”.) Interestingly, both of them were raised by a narcissistic/co-dependent couple (their respective parents) – at least that’s how I read the book.

    Their secret garden is their escape from the trap of their young false selves, but the difference to yours is that theirs is real stuff: nature, life, colours, scents, animals, growing, change and even friendship and love (represented by the character of the farmer boy Dickon who is 100% true self:-)). And finally, even healing! Colin discovers that he can, in fact, walk and be healthy and lovable. So does Mary – she discovers the gift of true friendship and connection.

    I found some fascinating sections and sentences in the book that relate directly to the young, severely wounded child that the narcissist has inside of himself (or should I say: that the narcissist is trapped within?)

    We read the German translation so I can not quote verbatim, but one of these sentences were:

    “The worst one can do to young children is to always give in to their wills, or to never give in to their wills.”

    There is an interesting scene where mini-narc Mary confront socionarc Colin by opposing him and his narcissism with her own narcissistic grandiosity, which throws him off-balance and evokes a narcissistic rage/injury.

    But she who has already healed through her secret Garden

    There is the role of magical thinking in the chapter ‘Magic’ too… relating to the concept of a Higher Power (maybe, but not necessarily, God). Finding a connection to a Higher Power through love, friendship, self-care, patience and acceptance of the cycle of nature eventually leads to healing. That’s very interesting, isn’t it? 🙂

    Ok, I am actually tol tired tonight to look up the other parts that fit so well, but i found the link to Gutenberg Project if anyone would like to read the book again, it’s very interesting and full of wonderful wisdom:

    http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Frances_Hodgson_Burnett/The_Secret_Garden/index.html

    It is especially fascinating that the author seemed to know everything about narcissism back then already! Remember that the book was written in 1911 when surely, the term ‘narcissism’ wasn’t even coined yet, or was it?

    I will leave you with this beautiful section, the beginning of the Chapter “In the Garden” – who knows how this will impact our own gardening? 😉

    “IN THE GARDEN

    In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered. In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before. In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts–just mere thoughts–are as powerful as electric batteries–as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.

    So long as Mistress Mary’s mind was full of disagreeable thoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of people and her determination not to be pleased by or interested in anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored and wretched child. Circumstances, however, were very kind to her, though she was not at all aware of it. They began to push her about for her own good. When her mind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorland cottages crowded with children, with queer crabbed old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids, with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day by day, and also with a moor boy and his “creatures,” there was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts which affected her liver and her digestion and made her yellow and tired.

    So long as Colin shut himself up in his room and thought only of his fears and weakness and his detestation of people who looked at him and reflected hourly on humps and early death, he was a hysterical half-crazy little hypochondriac who knew nothing of the sunshine and the spring and also did not know that he could get well and could stand upon his feet if he tried to do it. When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the old hideous ones, life began to come back to him, his blood ran healthily through his veins and strength poured into him like a flood. His scientific experiment was quite practical and simple and there was nothing weird about it at all. Much more surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.

    “Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.”

    While the secret garden was coming alive and two children were coming alive with it, there was a man wandering about certain far-away beautiful places in the Norwegian fiords and the valleys and mountains of Switzerland and he was a man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark and heart-broken thinking. He had not been courageous; he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them; he had lain on mountain-sides with sheets of deep blue gentians blooming all about him and flower breaths filling all the air and he had thought them. A terrible sorrow had fallen upon him when he had been happy and he had let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused obstinately to allow any rift of light to pierce through. He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties. When he traveled about, darkness so brooded over him that the sight of him was a wrong done to other people because it was as if he poisoned the air about him with gloom. Most strangers thought he must be either half mad or a man with some hidden crime on his soul. He, was a tall man with a drawn face and crooked shoulders and the name he always entered on hotel registers was, “Archibald Craven, Misselthwaite Manor, Yorkshire, England.”

    (…)

    😊

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  2. Spot on! The illusion of having someone you never think would ever even notice you, has a momentous upheaval in your life of cosmic proportions. The day I met my Narc, when we locked eyes, sound stopped, I think Earth stopped rotating on its axis for a few seconds. I never experienced anything like it. That rush was the instant addiction. This piece made that flood back in my head. Then many months later me telling him he is like a mirage. “Beautiful to look at, but one dimensional. Nothing underneath.”

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  3. it is all an illusion, everything. nothing is real, not even your perception. crazy making, twisted though it be, the hooks are in…. forever

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  4. Oh but how I so wished it were for real. Even asked him if he was virtual or for real. But now I’ve learnt that’s my job to do for me. The power is always within.

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  5. Have ya ever thought about writting horror, lol. It is an accurate discription of things I’ve been through myself and just as terrifying. I always knew evil walked among us, but i questioned in what form. I do not anymore, for this is the purest of evil. You’ve mentioned the creature ya see from time too time, have ya ever wondered if he’s real? Maybe alittle out there, but i dnt! I think he as is real as the glances you get, and you are just a vessel of sorts. Very scary indeed!

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