I don’t mean something for nothing in terms of not paying for our relief. Goodness knows we paid out enough money, time, effort and avoidable pain to get our drugs ¹ of choice so that we could quench our painful memories and feelings. In order to survive, we had to avoid the seeming impossibility of dealing with the head monsters (and often other very real ones) that were causing the misery.

Not only did we go to great lengths–even approaching death in many cases–to avoid those things, we chose the easier, softer way of instant fixes and gratification to avoid having to deal with them later on. We sought to alleviate our pain, stress, guilt, anxiety, fear and so forth in the most expedient ways possible, regardless of the cost to our relationships, health, legal standing and sanity. We wanted the golden pill that would send us to that place “Where answers do not signify/And there aren’t any questions.” ²

The science fiction Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein coined the acronym TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch). Back in the early 20th Century, when Heinlein grew up, bars would offer free lunches, usually lasting from opening time until near closing, to lure patrons. Of course, they more than made up for the cost of whatever simple fare they offered by selling adult beverages to wash it down. Hence, TANSTAAFL.

Today we get peanuts and goldfish. Go figure. But I digress.

It’s obvious where I’m going with this, so I won’t belabor it. Assuming that I did, my final point would be that we need to be mindful in order to learn if we are falling back into the quick fix mentality. It’s one of the first steps of relapse. Please note that I didn’t write “signs of relapse.” When we start that stuff, we’re already in relapse. Like sobriety, relapse is a process, not an event, and like addiction, sobriety is tricky. Just as the former will sneak up on us, so will the latter slip away if we’re not careful; if we get sloppy about doing the necessary work.


¹ For the purposes of this post, “drugs” means the entire list of whatever addictive behaviors we can think of.

² “Last Call”, by Dave Van Ronk, ©Downtown Music Publishing LLC.

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