The experiment is over.
The research is done, the facts are in, the jury has handed over a sweaty folded piece of paper over to the judge.
No more sugar for this dude.
At the end of last January, I wrote about my decision to go sugar free. Re-reading it with fresh eyes recently, I still see some of the things now as I saw them then – the “reach” of yet another thing to escape self, the poisonous nature of sugar, a coping mechanism that didn’t seem dangerous at first. And there are some things I see now…things that I needed to see in the light of yet another addiction.
Now, to those who have relapsed with alcohol, this is going to sound frightfully similar here as I itemize my downfall. Shall we go for a ride?
1) I thought that I was doing well, and that a tiny bit of chocolate wouldn’t hurt. I was at work and thought nothing of just taking a small bite (“sample!”) of a truffle. I mean, it had been months of abstinence and certainly one tiny morsel of decadent, rich, delicious, intoxicating, breathtaking, scrumptious, deep, dark, velvety, harmless chocolate couldn’t do any damage, right?
2) I spent a few days sans sucre and hey, that was pretty good, wasn’t it? Ego in check. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Keep your tickets until the end of the ride.
3) Since I was so good at controlling my intake, it was ok to have a bite of pastry, no? And pastry is different than chocolate…we all know that. And hell, if I am going to have one bite, might as well finish the rest. Wouldn’t want to waste food, or be rude.
4) You know, I lost a lot of weight not having sugar, and those first few pounds gained back are really nothing anyway. A muffin here and then, a bowl of cereal before bed, a few Smarties after lunch, and hey, a treat for all my hard work aren’t really a big deal. I ride my bike a lot, so I should be fine.
5) Alright, alright. I like this sugar thing. I know it’s starting to creep up again. But I can moderate it this time. It’s not like before. Hey – I stopped drinking and stayed stopped, OK? I can handle some sweets, yeah? It won’t be like it was last time. Promise.
6) I can stop anytime I want. I am just enjoying life right now. I’ll stop when I need too. Get off my back, alright? I’ll do it before it gets really bad. Now, where are my Butterfingers and cake batter-flavoured frozen yogurt…
7) I need to get off this rollercoaster. My moods are affected. My body is morphing. My sleep is disturbed. My emotions are stalling. I crave when I don’t even want. How did it get to this? How did it go so quickly? Look up OA.
Did you see the lies, the justifications, the rationalizations, the excuses, the fears, the anger, the ego and the pride in there, in that list? I did. You could pour it over pancakes, how thick and luscious those lies were (I might want to start using different analogies here on in). The great myth here, the great unmasking, the great deception is this – that I decided to eat sugar again. That is the fantastic untruth here. That I made a decision. I made no decision at all. It was my addiction’s choice. It was my powerlessness over sugar that made the decision. My ego just wanted to play along and make me think I had some say in it. Kind of sounds like the booze thing all over again, doesn’t it? Ugh.
So I sit in a place where I know that sugar is just another addiction for me. Part of me doesn’t want to admit it, but that part is dying rather quickly. Sure, I am not going to get arrested for having too many Boston Creams in my blood system, but that’s not the point. It’s what the driving force behind it is. It’s the causes and conditions. It’s the coping mechanism machine kicking in again. The clarity that has emerged out of these last few lard-and-molasses-laden weeks is that I don’t have an off switch when it comes to sugar. I don’t have a dimmer in me that can ease things off or shut it down if needed. I have lost the capacity to choose whether I want or not want sweets. The choice is made for me on a regular basis. I’m there for the ride, baby. And I am the one suffering from it.
The things that I see now that I didn’t see when I posted last about this are things that I could only see after going on this spree. The first was that in my first attempt at eliminating sweets, I left the door open to getting back into it. I never swore off for good, nor did I make a pact, other than just don’t have sugar. I mentally kept the back gate open a smidgen. And there’s nothing more an alcoholic of my type likes is to have a smidgen of anything open for negotiation and wiggling out of. I could spread smidgens on French toast (oops, did it again). The second thing I saw was really how much I depended on those sugary distractions, those syrupy sojourns, those cavity-inducing cathartic releases. It was always worse than I made it out to be. In classic alcoholic form, I minimized just how much they took me over. When the heat got too much inside, a few pieces of sugared up fried dough helped cool things down. Lovely.
And, in the way that only the Creator could finagle this, Lisa at Sober Identity started to discuss her detox from several items, including sugar. The timing couldn’t have been better. It was like I was watching myself in the future. She speaks about it in her usual brilliant self – raw when needed, experiential and eloquent always. She speaks of gaining greater clarity through the process and utilizing other support systems in this and other issues. I can see the unfolding of this through her eyes, and yet I realize my path is a different one than hers. Sugar is not alcohol. Sugar is found in many foods. I don’t need alcohol to survive. I do need food to survive. So while I plan to take my 12 step experience to this addiction, I will not doubt need a nutritionist or similar to help me navigate the actual nuts and bolts of doing this. Some rebar to add to the cement, if you will.
It’s actually a sigh of relief, in many way, this sugar thing I am dealing with (“dealing with”? Sounds like I am talking about a teen daughter who won’t come out of her room…yikes). When I first knew I was an alcoholic, at a very gut level way, there was almost a perverse but palpable joy in it. I was something…finally. I had felt like a nothing all my life, so to feel that I had something to hang my hat on, even if it was being a lush, was something to almost be thankful for. In the same way, I feel like I have something else to buoy myself up on here. It’s a step in the right direction, a new path forged with the usual pitfalls and joys that only addicts and alcoholics know. But I will have the strength and power that comes from the Creator and knowing that I have done this before…and yet am totally new to it.
Clarity. Growth. Perspective. A new outlook on life. For this alcoholic, these don’t come from self-help books or reading inspirational quotes all day on Twitter. It comes from marching through tough stuff. Stepping on a few nails wearing worn down moccasins. Stepping on a rake smacking your face slapstick type nonsense. Getting ugly and snotty and facing the things that make you want to run to Home Depot and wrap yourself in Teflon sheets and bury yourself in unicorn shavings. But out of all that comes the sense that the True Self blossoms out of that manure. That the more the Old Self dies, what was meant to be surfaces and we fill that old void with Goodness, Oneness to one’s self and the Creator. Big Love stuff going on.
All from letting go of what doesn’t serve us.
And just because I have been down the path before doesn’t necessarily make it easier. It does makes it a lot more interesting, though.