Years ago, I heard a relationship and sex therapist talk about the importance of treating people like gardens. He said that in our interactions with others, we should always aspire to leave things better than how we found them.

That’s really stuck with me over the years. Imagine how life would be if we entered into each other’s spaces with a sense of awe and appreciation? How much more peaceful would things be if we cultivated the beauty we saw in one another? If we could just resist the urge to pluck away what was pure for our own selfish gain and trample on whatever felt small, maybe we could see the wonder of how things could flourish in their own time.

I try – and no doubt sometimes fail – to leave people better than how I found them. First-hand experience has taught me how painful it can be when someone doesn’t treat something sacred and meaningful as such within you… It hurts when they extract and then exit. 

I know I’m not alone in feeling that pain. So many of us are walking around with trauma caused from this kind of selfishness from visitors. Maybe we’ve had toxic friendships that lacked care. Maybe we’ve had judgemental families that only loved us when we bloomed a certain way. Maybe we’ve shared sexual experiences with people who were less than worthy.

Rest assured, I take comfort in knowing the resilience of nature. Thinking about gardens, it’s remarkable what flowers and plants can withstand. There have been times where I’ve seen something wilt and I’ve pretty much counted on its imminent death only to be surprised when it makes a comeback. By still providing it with some water, sunlight, and TLC, despite my uncertainty, it can sometimes grow again.

And I believe that’s how we are, too. Sometimes we wilt and things look a bit rough. But, we can make those comebacks when the right people – including ourselves – start to tend to us properly.

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