Addiction Recovery Story #31, Wild Rose: Tough Flowers Bring the Beauty

Accepting “life on life’s terms” beats at the heart of 12-step recovery programs. When things go right, or things go wrong, or things stay the same, we don’t need to wallow in our substances. We strive to keep our faces to the sun and carry on. Like the wild rose, we reach, we ramble — and we flower. This is the latest installment in the sugar & overeating addiction recovery series I started 1/31/21.

I’m not surprised, are you?

Big shift in our home, with the short Brunetti — so nicknamed, by me, for her shiny brown hair — back in our berth. She returned with bagfuls of teen pandemic essentials, from the Wonderboom Portable Bluetooth Unicorn Speaker (below, first spotted in Seventeen Magazine a few Christmases ago) to mascara, blue jeans, white Converse sneakers, sweatshirts and a Wicca book (even the word scares me) that Dan allowed her to buy last month.

I feared that after a hiatus at her grandparents’, having Skip (and kid treats) back home would be tempting for me.

But the situation is not shaking out as I thought it would. I pictured food slips, not the mechanics, the working parts, of what would come into play.

I now see the sand traps:

  1. Bad timing. I have to eat lunch before leaving to get Brunetti. It’s 70 minutes round trip Monday to Friday and I leave Montclair at 12:30. (Dan does the morning drop-off.) Today, I didn’t sit down until 2:40 p.m., overhungry and grabby. I hoped to get a cup of turkey chili on my drive back, but the supermarket no longer sells it. Unforeseen circumstance. I scrambled and chose another prepared entree, but it was just too late. As soon as I put the grocery bags down, I unpeeled our last banana and dipped a spoon into the jar of Skippy no-sugar peanut butter. Then, #2.
  2. Impulse buy. Like a good street lamp, my angel in the recovery program offers clarity — a beam to help guide my path. She has advised me to stop buying sweets/desserts for myself but also for others, saying that I’m really buying them for my inner girl. I see that. Today, at ShopRite, the Nature Valley Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola Bars were $2.49 and I bought a box, under the guise of a healthy snack. While waiting for my Indian curry with lemon rice to heat in the microwave, I ate three single bars. No can do. Not for me. Stop.buying.sweets. The bars contain whole-grain oats, but the second ingredient is sugar. Dan can and will get treats as necessary for Skippy, as with the cheese Danish today.
  3. Fright night. I knew this would not be a bed of roses. Yet when faced with worries and possible dangers today, it was painful, scary and sad to just sit and hold them, not reach for a square of fine dark chocolate, my panacea in the past. I felt powerless to fix the situation, and in the moment, I was. I tried to let the fear go by using the tools of the OA program. I called a friend in the group; texted my angel in the program; and listened to an OA podcast on (my plain gray, not cute Unicorn) speaker. It did help. For the rest of the day’s food plan, I was back on track.

Here’s how the wild rose grows, according to a report from Stan V. Griep, American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian, Rocky Mountain District. (Rosarian! Wow.)

“Wild roses tend to stir one’s thoughts towards medieval times of knights, kings, queens, princes and princesses,” Mr. Griep writes. But rather than being romantic, cultivated and privileged, these brave, fragrant flowers “occur in nature with no help at all from man.” Skippy is can-do, confident and independent.

“In fact,” he says, “wild roses are the roses from which all others were bred,” so they hold a special place in the rosarian’s mind and heart. “They tend to thrive on neglect and are exceptionally hardy. These tough roses will grow in just about any soil conditions.” (One, the Swamp Rose, blooms in wet soil.) Skippy is adaptable, friendly and strong.

The plants produce rose hips — food for birds. Skippy has a kind heart.

“All wild roses need room to expand and grow,” the expert notes. “Once their root systems are established in their new homes, these tough rosebushes will thrive with a minimum of care.” Skippy has had a couple of homes on her journey, but she has put down roots here and we hope and pray she can thrive and blossom.

It isn’t difficult to grow wild rose plants. Wild rosebushes will do best in areas with plenty of sun. We try to bring the sun for our home and family — flowers, fun, beauty.

Mr. Griep shares charming names for wild roses, with the year each was first cultivated, including:

Apple Rose, 1771

Prairie Rose, 1810

Lady Banks Rose, 1823

Pasture Rose, 1826, Native American

The Skippy wild rose, 2007, has charming names, too, including Brunetti, and the ones our Annie calls her little sister — Beanie, La Beanie, Bobo, Bobe, Bob (for short), Teddy Bear, La Chicky.

Life is not a self-fulfilling negative phophecy. Skippy can be like a wild rose — so can Dan, so can I, so can our Annie. We can bloom and grow, be beautiful and fragrant. We can be prized, good — and tough. We can help others, as the rose hips feed the birds.

It will take persistence, holding on, turning our faces to the sun.

Skippy has sticking power; she can cling and thrive. She is determined, and strong, and we gardeners are determined, too.

Together, we can help cultivate rugged, unforgettable beauty in our dear Skip’s world.

Tonight’s lesson: Big shifts in our lives, and our households, require clean, clear, careful planning — and recovery tools — so that we do not dive back into our substances in the face of changes, anxiety and fear.

I published my first story about sugar addiction/recovery, “#1, Buttercup: I Know an Addict When I See One,” on January 31, 2021. My next will be “#32, Purple Thistle.” I’m giving the stories flower names, from the tiniest bright yellow bloom I saw as a girl on a summer night in Bedford Park to big, wide-open garden varieties, which I hope will signify my journey to self-knowledge on this sweet and sour road.

Alice Garbarini Hurley lives in Montclair, New Jersey. She worked at Seventeen, Good Housekeeping and Sesame Street Parents magazines, and freelanced as a fact checker at Cigar Aficionado. She has blogged daily at her website, Truth and Beauty, since 2010, and is a Contributing Writer for aspire design and home. Alice is in a recovery program.

Magazine maven, craft coffee lover, legal guardian. Passionate about fashion and lipstick — though it may not look that way when I dash to the supermarket.

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