About a month ago, around tax time, I heard political satirist P.J. O’Rourke on NPR talking about the complexity of the U.S. tax system and he said something that resonated with me, not about our tax code, but about my life at the time. He said, “complexity is fraud.” The minute I heard this phrase it rang true to me.
As I celebrate three years in recovery (on May 14–tomorrow), I realize the more complex I try to make my life the less genuine it becomes. Plus when life gets to be too busy, or too much, my old ways start to creep back in.
I know that complexity and busyness are not my friends no matter how cool I think they are, and no matter how much I want them to be my BFFs they never will be. I’m a self-described perfectionist, layer on some complexity with a healthy dose of busyness and I’m spinning in a million different directions. Not to mention, I’m completely miserable because in my life where complexity thrives, perfection dies. My ego is a mess, I’m a mess, and my program is usually is a mess too. The term “easy does it” is one of those 12-step slogans that I used to roll my eyes at. The first time I heard it I thought, “these addicts are a bunch of f**king wimpy freaks, who clearly don’t know that there’s entirely too much going on in my life for easy does it.”
Needless to say, I’ve been thrown the “easy does it” lesson a few times now. It keeps coming back to me like a bad penny. In my experience, you don’t get past a lesson until you’ve learned it (and in some cases earned it), so the universe keeps throwing it back to you, a little harder each time. This time around the “easy does it” lesson was a challenge.
It all started because I was coasting along in recovery. I had hit one of those places where I thought I had it all figured out, so I started to take on more stuff, I started to pull away from my higher power, I started to miss some of my committed meetings and before you knew it I was chewing sugarless gum again. That’s right, gum, not food, but gum. Thankfully, I wasn’t stupid enough to pick up flour and sugar, but I was stupid enough during a meeting at work to accept a piece of gum from a coworker. When I took it, I thought, “I can have a piece of gum it’s been eight months since I had a stick, what’s the harm?” Well a few weeks later, with sores in my mouth and a sore jaw from all the chewing, plus $150 spent on gum, I had to come to the realization that it was either time to recommit to my program or the food would clearly be next.
Some of you reading this may think, “gum, really?” And the answer is, yes, I couldn’t put it down, I was clearly using it addictively for the sweet hit it gave me when I popped it in my mouth. I know how this works. Today gum, tomorrow an entire gallon of ice cream. I have travelled this path before, except before I didn’t come clean and the gum obsession led me to the food. This time, my gum obsession is leading me back to my program. I came clean with my sponsor, Todd and a few fellows about my struggles and I put the gum down. And I’ve recommitted myself to a clean program that doesn’t include gum. So I’m recommitted. . .yet again. I have to remind myself that my commitment to recovery should be renewed everyday so that I don’t take it for granted, so I don’t coast, so I don’t get too busy and miss the red flag (in this case gum) and go straight for the food. Everyday I must renew the vow to treat my body with respect and care and abstain from flour and sugar. . . and gum.
While P.J. O’Rourke, the good libertarian that he is may say, “complexity is fraud.” This libertarian-leaning addict finally is understanding the importance of “easy does it.” Take it from me, slow down, stay true and recommit yourself everyday to a life without addiction!