False Memories: Intrusive Thoughts and Snakes in My Garden

The snake crept into my garden today. It slithered behind the bushes, coiled itself around the tree of life and began to eat away at its apples. Every morning when I wake up, I say my morning prayers and I stretch out my branches to the sun. My leaves turn flat, absorbing as much sunlight as they can. I do my photosynthesis thing. I try to live my life.

Most mornings, the rest of the plants in my garden are as healthy and happy as I am. The bushes are neatly trimmed, the oak tree by the side stands as firm as ever, and the lilies in the pond are as gorgeous as Monet had painted them out to be. (I’m glad, because that was the only reason I wanted lilies in my garden.)

But other mornings, my Eden is in ruins. The bushes are disheveled, leaves are scattered everywhere, the oak tree is cracked in half, and the lilies are like wilted corpses floating above the overflowing lake. This is my garden, my responsibility, my creation.

Some days, it’s somewhere in between. I fix up the little things that fall out of place. I nudge things back to where they were, even if it takes me a whole day to do it. Every time I do something good for my garden it feels like I am doing something good for myself.

I usually don’t like visitors in my garden, unless invited. I’ve set up a nice little tea table in one of the corners, with frilly doilies and little teapots and cups engraved in gold. That’s where the guests sit, and sometimes they’re allowed to wander the garden when I tell them to. I like it when they compliment the roses, or pick up some fresh fruits, or dip their feet in the stream of water, because it makes me happy when other people are enjoying my garden.

Now, uninvited visitors are a different beast entirely. One time, a group of people came in without notice and stomped around freely. The trees twisted themselves into knots, pulling their branches in closer towards their chest. The mimosas all closed shut, because they’ve all been touched when they didn’t want to be and soon enough my picturesque garden started to look like a wild forest.

That’s the thing about intruders: they’re intrusive. People usually aren’t too bad. I can hide my garden from the world if I want to, lock it up in a room and stay in bed, curtains closed and doors locked. But the snakes, the snakes are harder to get rid of. They go wherever I go. They’re always with me, but they hide in the crevices of my mind until it seems like they’re no longer there.

It’s when you think you’ve forgotten about these snakes that they decide to come back to the surface, slithering and scheming and determined to make your life as miserable as it can be. I chase it off with a pitchfork sometimes, which often ends in a bloody battle, but I know it’ll only come back. Most days it doesn’t take much to get rid of it, but on more vulnerable days, I get bitten by the snake and its poisons start running through my veins. Writing in pain, I curl up under the big old apple tree and wait for the toxins to be flushed out of my body. What else is there to do?

The bites aren’t lethal, but it’s usually enough to paralyse me for a few hours, even days on end. I’ve hacked down trees in my garden, usually in fear that the snake will come back. Watch me rip the bushes apart, mow down the grass, even attempt to uproot the tree of life itself. But I’ve gotten better at handling that, mostly. The poison doesn’t kill, so most of this is needless panic.

I sit under the tree, munching down on one of my apples. I let the venom ride inside my veins (I’ll probably get bitten by it again tomorrow, anyway) until my body flushes it all out. I’ve learned the importance of staying calm, accepting these intrusive thoughts and letting it play out until it’s over. The cycle gets quicker every time, and nowadays I get to spend less time fighting off snakes and lying underneath trees, and more time just taking care of my garden and inviting guests over. It’s the best I can do for myself right now.

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