| LifeTakes |

Time to Grow

A culmination of many years of bullying, it first hit me six years ago. I suffered from extreme OCD

On the sill of our kitchen window, on a soggy paper plate in a blue plant pot, a cactus plant grows. Its thin, tall spikes don’t draw attention to themselves — they are small and inconspicuous — yet the message they radiate is one of strength and patience.

While driving along the highway in France last year on the way back to our wet English homeland, the occupants of our Toyota Previa (yes, we’re Jewish!) requested a quick stop at a service station.

I was wandering about, eating my mother’s neatly packaged egg and pepper sandwiches and examining a homemade bee trap, when I noticed a small, brown potted plant thrown by the wayside. It looked sad and drooping, hardly inclined to survive, its leaves peeking out a mere inch from its pot.

When I asked my parents to take it back to England with us, they were surprised but willing. We wedged it neatly between my father’s bike and the back of the trunk, securing it with bike strings and repositioning it at each service stop. Every few hours I’d ask the “backseaters” to check on my plant.

A bet was made: Would my cactus survive the long journey home?

Remarkably, it did. It came home with me and sat outside, a small, sorry-looking green bulb.


Being ill was not easy in any manner of speaking. A culmination of many years of bullying, it first hit me six years ago. I suffered from extreme OCD.

It was as though an unknown spirit had entered my body and replaced my soul. I just wanted to become the lowest, most evil creature on earth. I was so ill that I wanted out of my family. Out of Yiddishkeit. Out of life.

This isn’t an easy story — it is a years-long saga of pain and pain and more pain, of terrifying, agonizing moments where the stabbing pain was so intense the world seemed to stop spinning on its axis. I cried, and the Heavens cried with me.

It was a period of medication and side effects, of tears and of hope, of late-night talks and of tossing in bed with fistfuls of pain in my heart. The past year especially was the year of seven hells; the year my parents wanted me fostered; the year of despair.

Yet it was also the year of growth and of freedom. It was the year when the angels’ wings sprouted. It was the year when I became “better” and “ready to get married.” It was the year when the golden era of good health was ushered in, the year when singing became part of my existence and when happiness greeted me at my bedside every morning.

After a six-year struggle, nearly 20 grand, and close to 30 professionals/doctors later, I have survived.

A few months ago, peering at the windowsill, I exclaimed in wonder. My small, dingy cactus had shot up. It had expanded to about 30 times its original size. My dear mother re-potted it in a fresh blue plant pot.

It had taken a year of inner growth and work before the human eye could detect change. But when it happened, it blossomed. My cactus is the story of survival and of inner work, of strength and of holding on even when the world around you falls apart.

It’s my story of survival — it’s synonymous with the inner convictions that life will be okay, as long as one can still hold on.

As I gaze at it and ponder over the similarities of our journeys, I cry. And I determine to share with the world the lesson of my cactus: Good things take time to grow.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 738)

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