Growing up, my brother John and I bickered a lot. As my big brother, John put up with a lot of whining from me. I wanted to keep up with him. I wanted to do the things he was doing. Unfortunately, in my efforts to keep up with him, I got in the way a lot.
For his part, John would occasionally take advantage of the fact that he was older and bigger then I was. When it came to roughhousing, he was always the victor. I think our typical battle looked something like this:
- Kent does something to push John over the edge.
- John responds.
- Kent whines to Mom and or Dad.
It was a pattern that repeated itself until I was a Freshman in high school. A day came when we established an armistice, but that’s another story for another day.
Eventually, I developed defenses to fend off John’s retaliatory strikes. My proudest of these accomplishments was pepper on French fries. You see, for as long as I can remember, one of John’s methods of seeking revenge was to steal my food. I guess he knew of my love of food, and saw an easy target.
I would look away, distracted by whatever was going on around me, only to turn back to my fries to see that the pile had shrunk considerably. The great fry thief had struck again!
There was another constant in my life that ended up rescuing me and my fries from John’s treachery. In addition to doing everything I could to be a thorn in my brother’s side, as a little boy I did my best to imitate my dad.
Dad always sprinkled pepper on his fries. This was a very unconventional move, but one I decided one day to try. To my amazement, after sprinkling pepper on my fries, they no longer became casualties in my battles with John. Pepper, it seems, was something John disliked enough to stop him from sneaking my fries when I wasn’t looking!
Soon, I was putting pepper on everything but breakfast cereal. (John never tried to sneak my Fruit Loops, otherwise I probably would have peppered them too!). Thus began my life-long love affair with pepper.
As John and I grew, our relationship improved. I stopped annoying him at every opportunity, and he stopped picking on me. We didn’t just learn to coexist. We became friends. Today, he has become one of my truest friends, and has always been there to encourage and support me in my recovery.
Peppering my French fries way back then taught me a lesson that still applies today. There are things I need to do in my life to strengthen my recovery. Actions I take that defend against addiction robbing me of this joy I have found in a life without drugs.
For instance, a few weeks ago, Amanda and I enjoyed an exceptional meal at a local restaurant. It was a place near our home that I had been wanting to try. Despite the fact that we both enjoyed our meals, we won’t be going back. Why? Well, it was apparent that our server, along with a good number of his coworkers, were high. The signs of IV drug use were unmistakable.
While I have empathy for someone caught up in addiction, I cannot afford be be around people who are using drugs. It’s a slippery slope that I know to avoid at all costs. So, I “sprinkle pepper” on that situation by not going back.
Fidelity in my marriage is another example where some “pepper” comes in handy. I wear a large wedding band that is impossible to miss. I talk about Amanda and how much I love her a lot, both when she is around and when she is not. I am proactive about avoiding situations that could compromise my fidelity and my reputation. Two things that became unimportant in my days of using drugs.
As a little boy, my French fries were worth defending. Pepper became my defense against attacks.
Today, my recovery is worthy of defense. The best defense I have found for my recovery comes from practicing the steps of Narcotics Anonymous, and applying the spiritual principles found in those steps. The spiritual principles have become the “pepper” of my recovery. They apply to all areas of my life. Like pepper, I have grown to love them. I have become willing to do whatever it takes to defend this new way of life.
Have a remarkable day!