Two weeks ago (on the first day of the Type-A Conference), a man came into our yard and destroyed all the plants in front of and beside our house.
Grace watched from the window (the girls were home with a babysitter) while the man's weed eater mowed down plant after plant.
Purple coneflower, black-eyed susans, cranesbill geraniums, dianthus, liatris, balloon flower, bee balm, peonies, columbine, roses, all gone.
He did leave half of my lavender bush, a few sticks of one rose bush, most of a yucca, and about a third of a hellebore.
In an afternoon, he destroyed eight years' worth of planting and tending and mulching. He cut it down and hauled it away like garbage.
Not knowing what to do, Joe called me. I sat on a red chair behind the AboutOne table at the conference expo, having trouble digesting his words. As if words from a foreign tongue, vandalism and decimated rang through my ears without connecting to my brain.
Some minutes later, the words did drill down into my conscious, and I began to cry. How could someone come onto our property and ravage everything I've worked for?
For hours, I cried. I felt vulnerable and then violated and then just wounded. But at the same time, I felt ashamed.
I should not be so upset over flowers, I scolded myself. They're things. Joe's okay. Our girls are fine. Our pets are fine.
They're just flowers.
The more I scolded, the more wounded I felt.
What is wrong with me?
I must really be crazy.
I went up to my empty hotel room and cried. I prepared to wallow in sadness for the rest of the evening.
Not long after, just minutes, God tapped me on the shoulder.
You've traveled almost 600 miles from home to attend this conference, catch up with friends, and make new business relationships. You aren't going to do any of that crying in this hotel room.
When God speaks, I listen. I washed my face, fixed my makeup, and texted my friend. She told me where she'd gone, and said I should join the group.
I began to walk toward the restaurant, clad in jeans and a long sleeve dress shirt - in Charlotte, North Carolina where the temperature must have been 90 - but I got the direction wrong. I walked a total of 12 blocks before I oriented myself and figured out where I was supposed to be going.
I spent the long walk in prayer, asking God why this happened and what I'm supposed to be learning from it and to prop me up through the process because I didn't feel like I could push through it on my own.
I arrived at the restaurant, needing solace and grounding that a talk with an understanding friend could provide. Immediately, I found my friend, but she was seated at the end of a packed table and skooching over didn't appear to be a possibility. I looked instead for another friend who was eating at the same restaurant. Just as I found her table, I realized that she was sitting next to the one person at the conference who I just couldn't bear to spend time with.
So I did what any reasonable person would do.
I left the restaurant in tears.
Well, there you have it. Nobody likes me. No one wanted to talk to me anyway, and why should they? If I couldn't keep myself together in a restaurant, I must really be losing it. I'm hundreds of miles away from home, and I am having a mental breakdown. I can't believe this is happening to me. What did I do to deserve this?
The thoughts kept coming, faster and faster.
If I'm going to get this upset over some flowers and a dinner, maybe I should just kill myself.
It always happens when I'm that upset. Those thoughts, that thought, crowd their way into my conscious and dance around in front of me.
Woah! Stop right there! I scolded anew. I will not be killing myself today or any other day.
I passed a construction site and spotted a Panera Bread where I could eat a quiet dinner and compose myself.
I am not going to have a mental breakdown. I am going to enjoy this conference and do what I came here to do.
I wasn't convinced; the words were empty.
I began to pray again. I prayed for God to give me strength to handle the situation and to see His greater purpose in it and to learn whatever it is that He wants me to learn so that I wouldn't have to go through this lesson again some other time.
I would like to say that I felt better then, after I prayed, but I didn't. The answer came later, in the form of an email that asked me to check in on a friend who was struggling. I made myself be okay as to not upset her, and then I was okay.
I would like to say that His grace brought me peace and comfort in the middle of that upheaval, but it didn't.
The next day, after I'd had a good night's sleep, I felt stable. I felt confident andÃ‚ competent; I knew I could handle this situation with God's help.
I had been sad and scared and shaken and angry and lonely but I was never alone.
Heather @ Not a DIY Life says
Your property, your haven, was violated & you had every right to feel all of those emotions. (I went thru something similar when my car was stolen.) The timing was horrible but i'm so glad you sought solace in the One who could bring you the comfort that you needed. Hugs!
Tara Ziegmont says
Wow, that is so sad! Why on earth did he kill your flowers? As you rebuilt your garden, would you please post pics for us? I'm just learning how to plant flowers and could really use some ideas/tips.
Hang in there
Tara Ziegmont says
It looks like it was a case of miscommunication and lack of due diligence. I explained a bit more in my response to Cindy's comment below. I have a post scheduled for tomorrow showing all of the great stuff that is (and was) growing in my yard, and I'd be happy to share pictures as I plant.
I have a few pictures of the baren earth that greeted me when I came home from the conference, but they were depressing, so I didn't include them in tomorrow's post. I might share them later on.
I put a couple of things in the ground out there today. My method of gardening is throw it all together and let it grow. It's pretty easy. The plants get messy because they're crowded, but it doesn't bother me one bit.
OK, two things: First: WHY was that man doing that? Did you call the police? Did he just get the wrong house? That's the craziest thing I've ever heard!
And the important thing: Tara, I've been there (the suicidal thoughts, I mean, and the running, and the worthless feelings), and I know you're going to come out the other side of this, not only whole, but better than ever. I'm praying for you, and I love you, and admire the heck out of you. You know that, right?
Tara Ziegmont says
The why is a long story without a good answer. The guy told Joe that a realtor in Florida hired him to clear the property, and that realtor gave him our address. The police officer found out that a realtor down the street hired him. She says she hired him to clear a property down the street the other direction, and she says she gave him the correct address. So it's a big he said she said thing. Our only recourse is to sue for the cost of all the destroyed stuff.
I'm so thankful that the suicidal thoughts were fleeting. We've both had them when there they were pervasive and relentless. It wasn't like that.
Thank you much. 🙂
Alexis Pacha says
iv'e had suicidal thoughts and my friend helped me and i feel so bad for your flowers
It is so hard to be lonely, but thank our Lord we are never alone. I pray that you will enjoy the rest of the conference & heal from the wounds. I am sorry that this happened. I just have to ask, has your family received any more explanation for this bizarre attack?
Oh, now I can see the follow-up post. How sad. Very sorry for this happening.
Never alone...thanking Him with you for that fact. I have been in those dark moments as well and am so thankful you were able to gain perspective (and I hope enjoyed yourself some at the conference)
Angel Shrout says
OH my goodness I would have been just as distraught hun. I hope that someone pays you for your loss, either the realtor or the individual who did the damage. My question is why didn't someone in your house go out and stop him first?? I would have been out the door like white on rice looking for an explanation... I am glad that God brought you some form of solace at least to keep you off the edge...
Tara Ziegmont says
The babysitter didn't know whether he was supposed to be there or not. Plus, she's only 17. Not knowing who he was or why he was there, I think she did the right thing to stay inside with my girls.
Mary @ A Teachable Mom says
You are a brave woman. What a heart-wrenching, absolutely horrifying story. I relate to shaming myself mercilessly when my feelings don't match my expectations of myself. I hope you continue to give yourself space and enough love and support to feel all your feelings and come out on the other side. (Obviously, I'm writing to you what I need to do for myself also!). Thank you for sharing your process and your hope. And a big hug to you and your family.
I love you. #thatisall
I absolutely love reading your blog because you are so honest about your feelings. Thanks for sharing.