Peas and Corn

When Laura was a teenager she never seemed to understand long term consequences. She was always (and still is) impulsive in her decision making process and, often times, her impulsivity would bite her in the butt.

I tried to talk to her about reaping what we sow. I asked her “What’s a vegetable you hate?” Her response was “peas”. I asked her “What vegetable do you like?” to which she responded “corn”. Peas and corn has become our anology for life’s consequences. I explained to Laura that if she plants peas, peas are going to grow. Eventually she’s going to have to harvest those peas regardless of how much corn she plants along with them.

Tomorrow is Laura’s five year sobriety date. Five years! Five years of learning who she is, why she does things the way she does and accepting responsibility for harvesting her own peas. Not necessarily willingly accepting that responsibility but accepting it none the less.

Five years ago Laura was in such a dark place! She was basically couch hopping and taking advantage of anyone who showed her any kindness or empathy. The friend who had taken her in at that point had discovered Laura was stealing from her and she confronted her with it. Laura’s typical, drug user, manipulative response back then was to cry suicidal ideation so we would all jump into rescue mode and save her. I thank God that’s what she did that day too! Laura had been to mental health treatment facilities before but always as a minor, covered by her parents medical insurance. This time she was legally an indigent adult. She was taken to a state funded facility that was less concerned with her comfort than the places she’s been before. The first thing they did was drug test her. (I’m not sure why that wasn’t done when she was younger. Everyone just took her at her word that she wasn’t using). In this facility, she was immediately placed in detox. Arrangements were made to transfer her to a recovery facility. She was there for about 2 weeks before a bed became available for her in a long term treatment facility. (That was an answered prayer so big it will probably be a story better told in a future post) Laura spent nine months in long term rehab working a 12 step program where she was forced to look at the peas she’d planted and start harvesting.

I know what it feels like to be ashamed of myself. I know how it can hurt to accept my own failures. I can’t imagine how she felt, though, to look at the mess she’d made of EVERY relationship in her life and try to figure out how to resolve the issues she’d created. She spent her days, with a pen and paper, walking through row after row of peas, asking herself “What did I do to plant these and what do I need to do to harvest them?”. Can you imagine what it would be like to literally spend all day every day doing nothing but reflecting on your own mistakes in life? I cannot imagine the internal pain of doing that. Human nature is to be prideful. Learning humility can be a rough road! Humility was the necessary element in recovery though.

Five years now, Laura has been doing life sober. She still plants peas, but less of them than she used to, and she’s STILL harvesting peas that were planted 5-10 years ago! Unfortunately, some consequences last forever. That is the part I’ve had the hardest time explaining. Sometimes we can stop planting peas and plant nothing but corn afterwards, but the soil is forever changed. The seed from the peas is there and it’s become part of who we are. At this point, I think the only option for Laura is to learn how to use that seed for the betterment of others. She’s recently expressed an interest in a career in recovery. That’s my prayer for her now. I’d love to see her find a way to take those peas and use them to plant corn.

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