For a long time, I didn’t like flowers. I know, who doesn’t like flowers, right? But I guess I’d gotten so many flowers delivered to me from guys who really didn’t mean anything by it. It was just this easy, hollow gesture rather than anything thoughtful and meaningful. And then there’s the pragmatic side of me that often wins out over my emotions. Where was the utility in flowers? Their only activity is dying.
I spent years of marriage with someone who gave me flowers (even though I said I didn’t want them) and earrings (even though my ears are no longer pierced) in lieu of anything requiring real thought.
But as time went by, I began to appreciate flowers a bit more. They can be beautiful. They can brighten your room, your day. And they can be thoughtful. The thoughtlessness (or not) of flowers has little to do with the flowers and more to do with the flower giver.
But I never thought of them as something I could buy for myself. I guess I was thinking of those stories — women who send themselves roses on Valentine’s Day and sign the card with a fictitious name. I didn’t want to resort to that.
My last relationship was built on superficiality. It’s amazing how we start to think whatever environment we’re in is reasonable and normal and only once we’re removed from a situation can we see its irrationality. Looking back now, I can see clearly that at some level, I felt safer in a relationship in which I didn’t have to open up or become too vulnerable.
But, even if we choose it, a relationship devoid of real meaning can take its toll on your soul. Being with someone who never tells you he likes you or anything about you or that he enjoys having you around can make you feel unlikeable and not worth having around.
And only later do you realize how much living in a world without affection or personal validation has chipped away at you, a little at a time.
Sometimes getting compliments for your professional skills becomes resounding silence — you are bombarded with the overwhelmingly loud absence of any mention of anything complimentary about your non-work identity. “You are great with corporate strategy” translates into “there is nothing about your personality, appearance, personal hopes and dreams, or non-work interests that is appealing.”
In any case, I would occasionally get flowers and I would think, maybe this is some sign that I’m personally (as opposed to professionally ) worthy. Only later I found it was nothing of the sort. I was creating a personal statement where there was none. He might pick up flowers for me, but he’d also pick them up for anyone. In this case, it was the entire relationship that was hollow.
But the idea of flowers was still growing on me.
And yet I still couldn’t buy them for myself. I kind of wanted some around, so I just hoped someone else might bring me some. And people did, every so often – friends who were dropping by for dinner.
It may sound crazy, I know, to want flowers and have the method for getting them be to just wait around and hope. But I kept (and keep, and keep) thinking about that book passage I read last September:
“It’s not that she doesn’t need rescuing but that no one else will be able to do it. She has always somehow known that she is the one who will have to rescue herself. Or maybe what’s depressing is that this knowledge seems like it should make life easier, and instead it makes it harder.”
I know, I really do know, that you can’t wait for someone else to save you and that you, only you can do it. You can’t expect someone else to fix you and make the world all better.
But buying my own flowers seemed like yet another way I had to rescue myself and it was exhausting to think about.
A few days ago I decided fuck it. I can’t let flowers be a symbol of my failures. So I bought some flowers. Bright, yellow, happy.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about our ideal future hypothetical relationships. She thought she might want someone who was funny and caring and thoughtful. I said all I wanted was to be accepted for exactly who I am. To be told that I’m enough.
And while I know intellectually that no one else can save me, I suppose I’d just like to think I’m worth the attempt.