A personal narrative with an extended analogy of my childhood.
The Vine of Life
I was a small seed trying to grow. Helpless and innocent, planted in a rather difficult spot that made future challenges inevitable. Near my plot, the deserted house creaked and groaned, as if moaning in pain and sadness. Although broken and abandoned, it contained potential. As I sprouted my first leaves, the old house continued to whine, begging for help. What could I do? I was just a small seed trying to grow.
As I grew up, the anxiety within me increased as I watched the calendar countdown to a day supposed to be filled with joy, happiness, and spirit. I despised the holidays. The energy in the room radiated negativity.
My father, mother, and two older sisters all sat around the table. The curtains danced as the crisp warm air flowed in through the open window. The silence pierced the air, making the tension in the room inescapable. Similar to toddlers, my unpredictable parents could throw a temper tantrum at any moment. As if trying to break the silence, joyful church bells ringing from down the street added to the tension. The smells of a traditional Polish Easter breakfast filled the air as it floated to the dining room from the kitchen. My parents glared at each other as my siblings and I gazed down at our plates. Breaking the silence, they started shouting obscenities at one another without reason.
To stop the arguing, my sisters and I jumped to our feet causing the chairs to fly back. Attempting to shout over them, we became drowned out by the screaming. The dyed eggs that my sisters and I created earlier symbolized the sliver of hope this Easter would be unlike the rest. I watched helplessly as both my mom and dad grabbed the eggs and pulled back their arms to whip them at each other. Crashing, yelling, and crying followed and we watched our small ounce of hope for a normal holiday disintegrate. Rage consumed my body as I looked at the colored bits covering the walls. Couldn't we all at least pretend to be a happy family, just for one day? My sisters and I grabbed rags and began to scrub the walls down, as if attempting to erase the memory of what happened. Since my parents couldn't bear to put their selfish arguing aside, the memory of Easter Sunday embedded in my mind consisted of misery and sadness.
Though fragile and weak, I continued to stretch my branches. They intertwined around the lifeless columns in front of the house and through the broken windows. The cracks made it easy for me to get stuck and just as easy to give up. The overwhelming feeling of no escape exhausted me. I shouldn't feel like this. The foundation of my growth, my youth, was supposed to be ordinary.
My stem and leaves struggled to remain strong as all of my energy became focused on becoming unstuck, escaping. Short periods occurred when my branches grew without any obstacles, yet I felt cautious, aware that it could change in an instant. A time when I could focus on the seed trying to grow. A time too good to be true. Soon I would become stuck again, growing weaker. My leaves would become yellow and dry, threatening to fall off my fragile stem. But I didn't let them.
My eyes shot open, but not to the usual sound of my alarm. Still half asleep, anxiety filled my chest. Stop. I thought. The yelling continued. Please God, just let it stop. The sound of glass breaking in the kitchen reminded me that I could not escape the abandoned broken home.
As the years went on, my parents continued arguing. Being older, my sisters would step in, instantly getting the backlash of it. Their pleas were thrown to the side, discarded just like the glass shards from the plates my parents broke. Waking up every day with a throbbing pain in my head and a heavy chest reminded me of my depleting mental and physical health, which my parents ignored. One day, the fighting infuriated me so much that I realized enough was enough. I stepped between them and took charge, making the point that I would not withdraw until they stopped. I was young. Eleven years younger than my oldest sister, but for some reason they listened. They actually listened to me. Their yelling faded as I forced them to get away from each other. Silence never sounded so sweet.
From that day forward, my frail stem grew firm. I stretched my branches through every part of the house, choking its cries of pain. My yellow leaves turned green again as I intertwined and covered the cracks and holes, weaving through every room.
I never gave up. Not when stuck, not when the loneliness of the deserted house seemed impossible to repair. Planted in a difficult spot, the challenges I overcame made me mature, as my strong stem intimidated the old house, which eventually fell silent. My challenging youth allowed me to discover independence and strength at a young age. I was not a helpless small seed anymore. I was flourishing.
People may conclude that a childhood filled with such negativity must produce weak, broken children, but I discovered how to face my obstacles instead of running away from them. Through the pain and stress my parents caused me, I faced two paths. I could have chosen the path with less sunlight, making wrong decisions to help cope while avoiding the obstacles. Instead, I chose the sunlit path. A path where I decided to face my challenges head on and go through them, not around. I cannot change the past, but I can accept it and move forward. I hurt. I healed. I survived.
Years later, my father moved out of the house, and my parents lived calmly without each other, finally adjusting their focus onto their kids. My parents' separation gave my siblings and I an opportunity to experience peace. Looking back, I'm thankful that my seed grew near the lonely house that constantly surrounded me. Though difficult, finding my independence and strength within the old walls of the decaying house allowed me to confront challenges while learning how to bring it to life. I am not a small seed anymore. I am a vine that overtook and claimed the neglected house. I am thriving.