I’ve got one more gardening observation from my weeding work this week. Thanks for hanging in there.
Many years ago I started going to a 12 step overcomer-type meeting at my church. I went for about a year, but the impact on my life is still being felt.
The meetings were geared toward people with chemical addictions, or for those who love someone with chemical addictions. But I discovered we are all addicts of some kind in some manner. Be it drugs, alcohol, TV, coffee, people, facebook…. There is probably an area in every life where we will repeatedly lie to ourselves to do something that we KNOW is bad for us. Something we really don’t want to do, but do anyway. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you yours. And what’s cool is, they never asked me mine.
Those were some of the best meetings I have ever been to. Trench warfare. The friends I made at those meetings know what life or death decisions look like. They know their weaknesses. They know that they will lie to themselves to get a hit. They know it and they can’t forget it for one day. And so they go to meetings, some go to meetings every day of the week.
It takes an addict to help an addict. But the hard work of overcoming an addiction can only be done by the addict himself. He has to hit bottom. He has to work through all the steps. He has to appeal to his higher power. He has to feel the pain of denying himself. We can offer support and honesty, but we can’t do it for him. It’s not effective if we do the work for him.
And it may not safe for us.
Sometimes a friend will ask me to help her in her garden. I’m all in, especially if we are working and talking together. Working and talking, talking and working. Happy time! And then we see a familiar vine winding it’s way through an azalea. Poison ivy. Depending on how much there is, we can sometimes just cut it with a shovel. But it will come back that way. It needs to be pulled out, or sprayed with poison.
I don’t usually have poison ivy poison with me, and I don’t really want to pull it out. The oil will get on my gloves, then I’ll rub my leg, then I scratch my eye, then I’ll bring the gloves home and pick them up and put them away, then someone else will pick them up… and all the world will be itching. Or at least, I will be.
That’s what will happen if I’m not careful.
If I am being careful, I will pull it out always remembering I’m pulling out poison ivy. I’ll be careful not to touch myself, I’ll be careful disposing of it, I’ll be careful with washing my gloves, I’ll be careful. I can’t ever forget that I’m touching poison ivy.
My mother should never help anybody remove their poison ivy. She is highly allergic. My dad, on the other hand, can pick it up and crumple it in his hands and will never break out. I think he could probably eat it. I’m somewhere in between.
It’s good to help our friends with gardens and life. But as Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I would also recommend wearing gloves, just in case.