My husband’s favorite-things-to do-list never included yard work. That is, until the last six months when he began creating an inviting space in our small backyard.
On each end of our patio, he placed trellises to support Confederate Jasmine
vines. The two trellises on the street side receive the morning sun and breezes that grace our Florida afternoons. The plants are thriving. We’ve enjoyed the blooms’ sweet fragrance while sipping our morning coffee.
The plant on the opposite end hasn’t fared as well. Dan sank the same kind of black metal trellis in the same kind of dirt, but it remained small; the vines didn’t trail. He substituted the metal with white latticework and replanted the jasmine. A few shoots ventured up the support, but most of them withered and died.
The trellis stands beside the air conditioning unit which spews heat like a blast furnace. The hot air cooks the tender vines before they have a chance to spread out across the latticework.
Dan sat outside many nights staring at the shriveling vines, pondering a solution to the problem. He decided to try a solid panel that would deflect the scorching air. He bought a piece of fencing and set to work on his idea. He then returned the original black metal trellis to its spot, replanted what was left of the vine and waited.
Within two or three weeks, the struggling vine began sending out new growth. The tendrils reached toward the sun and wound around a nearby light fixture. The protection worked.
Our struggling loved ones remind me of the beleaguered Confederate Jasmine trying to grow in harsh conditions. The relentless struggles to keep tempting thoughts at bay keeps sobriety at arm’s length. Other times it’s the onslaught of friends’ influences that cause recovery to shrivel and die. The unrelenting invitations to party and participate in risky activities prevents sustained recovery. So what can we, as family members, do to redirect and protect fragile sobriety?
We can provide walls of protection. If your loved one still lives at home, set specific boundaries or guidelines with consequences: curfews honored, grades maintained, keep a job, etc. Infractions result in loss of privileges. The guidelines are in place to redirect behaviors to those which uplift the individual family member and keep the family on an even keel. The guidelines allow time and space for sinking deep recovery roots that will withstand life’s heat.
If your loved one is a young adult or your spouse, the boundaries should be appropriate to their stage in life. Use whatever leverage you have to point them to resources: AA
or Celebrate Recovery
meetings, outpatient or inpatient treatment, or addiction counseling. Your loved one can successfully remain in the same environment, just like the Jasmine remained in the same soil with the same trellis. But the guidelines are in place to shield their fragile recovery from damage. You provide the information. Your loved one makes the decision to act on it.
Dan’s Jasmine thrives today even though the air conditioner unit still churns out hot air. The tender vines snake
their way over and around the metal trellis with unimpeded growth. The life-destroying heat remains, but the plant is protected from its life-sapping effects.
Our loved ones can, and will thrive, in spite of life’s distractions. We can help them with boundaries while their sobriety takes root and grows toward the sun of recovery.
Blessings and hope for today.
, Celebrate Recovery
, Confederate Jasmine
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