Back East where I’m from, it’s a fall tradition for many families to take an afternoon trip to a local farm to pick out Halloween pumpkins.
However, the trip is about more than just buying a pumpkin- you can do that at the grocery store. There is apple cider, fresh cider donuts, and then the main event, heading to the pumpkin field to walk amongst the hundreds of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes and picking out the best pumpkin you can find.While most kids looked forward to the event, I always had mixed emotions. Just like everyone else, I wanted the perfect pumpkin, but I worried about the imperfect ones; the ones who weren’t round, the ones with bumps or imperfections, and saddest of all, the ones without stems. How would you open the top without a handle? Luckily my mom was understanding and usually allowed me to buy one “perfect” pumpkin and one of the sad, stemless ones that would otherwise have been left behind. Flash forward into adulthood and I’ve realized that the need to care for, befriend, and otherwise try to “fix” stemless pumpkins doesn’t just apply to fruit, but to people as well. Now don’t get me wrong, most of my friends and family are perfectly wonderful, normal, people (stated just in case any are reading).
However, I have chronically attracted and held on to, more than a few stemless pumpkins over the years. You know who I’m talking about. They’re the toxic people who no one else wants to be around because they’re negative, arrogant, phony, selfish, untruthful, or have some other unlovable behavior.
Those of us who keep them in our lives do so because we try to overlook those behaviors and make excuses for them. When questioned why we spend time with one, we say, “I know she’s (fill in toxic word), but. . .” and then we fill in an excuse, “she had a terrible childhood,” “he has poor self esteem,” or “she doesn’t have many other friends.” I want to be clear that I’m not saying that we should only surround ourselves with perfect people, because of course, there are no perfect people. And in fact, associating with a few stemless pumpkins can good for us. They teach us to be accepting of others, challenge our communication and relationship skills, and they can sometimes be very giving and grateful for our friendship.
If you have too many stemless pumpkins in your life though, or even one that is highly toxic, they can drag you down, drain your energy, and become a never-ending project that can dominate your life.
So what can you do to cure yourself of Pumpkin Without Stem Syndrome?
Learn to identify a stemless pumpkin when you see one, so you can avoid a lot of heartache before taking it home.
I can’t really tell you how to identify the particular stemless pumpkin that you attract, because everyone attracts a different kind. However, I have tended to attract the same type of stemless pumpkins in my business and personal life over the years. They’re usually people who:
– have low self-esteem, but compensate by achievement, either academic or business
– constantly need to remind others of their accomplishments by bringing them up at every opportunity
– put others down to make themselves feel better
– get angry, insecure, or frustrated, and then lash out, apologize, and do it again next week
If you already have a stemless pumpkin in your life, consider limiting their access to you or ending the relationship.
For help with this, read my blog post, “Getting Rid of Dead Weight Once and For All.”
As I’ve become more aware of my own problem with stemless pumpkins, I’ve taken action to cure myself of the need to maintain toxic relationships and to accumulate people in my life who suck the life out of me, and quite frankly, cannot be fixed. Last fall, I took a trip with my best friend to New England to view the fall foliage. At one of our stops was a pumpkin stand. Although I still felt the twinge of guilt leaving the stemless pumpkins behind, I left the stand with just one pumpkin whose stem was fully intact.
I think I may be cured.