Have you every considered anyone your “frenemy”? You know, that girl you’re friends with even though you basically cannot stand the way she talks? Everything that comes out of her mouth is ridiculous, but she’s got super rich parents and you get to go to their beach house for ragers. Upon leaving you think “Fuck that, I’m never going there again” and secretly you feel like you’d be sorely disappointed if you didn’t get an invite to the next one.
Sugar was my closest and worst frenemy. Sugar was the thing I could consistently go to when I was feeling low.
It was always there for mere seconds of bliss, followed by guilt and regret. But it tasted so good, it was helping me not think about the fact that work totally sucked ass today or how much I wanted to punch my sister for that embarrassing thing she said. Sugar was there. Ice cream was there. Mac and cheese was there. For 20 seconds, I can eat it and forget, and drift into a gooey, hazy, wonderland of not giving any fucks about myself, my life, and where I’ve ended up.
In a moment of love and solidarity, I committed to myself and to a beloved friend that I would give up refined sugar and booze for at least the first 40 days of the New Year with her.
This challenge would require real work. I would now have to face the feelings I was covering up with sugar once it was eliminated. I wouldn’t have another leg to stand on and I was terrified.
If I looked it in the face, if I looked in the face of what I was feeling without sugar as my coping mechanism, I would mostly likely feel the need to change. And that would require energy, work, decisions. I make decisions all day long and I’m over it. I just don’t want to any more… Sugar offered me a glimpse of relief from all of that. What I discovered was that taking sugar away was like taking off a Band-Aid on a wound that was nearly healed and just needed to breathe.
When I started looking at the way I turned to sugar, ran to sugar, it started becoming clear that I was using it as a crutch for an injury I no longer had. Maybe even never had to begin with.
I had unconsciously created an addiction to put in the place of a void that didn’t actually exist. Going to a party and not drinking…. Whoa… How was I going to navigate that?
Through this process, I realized I’m not that socially awkward girl who’s just trying to fit in and over analyzing everyone’s actions like I had once perceived myself to be. I’m incredibly capable of getting to know other humans without using booze as a social lubricant and stuffing my face with pastries when I didn’t have anything to say at the dinner table.
Perhaps at some point, I couldn’t say that was true for me, but it is my truth now and it took challenging myself to go without it to realize the magnitude of false importance I’d put on it.
The alcohol was one thing, I didn’t drink every day, but every day, it reallllly felt like I needed dessert. It still sort of does, but not nearly as strongly. Not having intense cravings is revolutionary. I find myself wondering… did I really need it? I’m not even missing it. Was I sick with an illness that only sugar could remedy or did I allow myself to believe another falsehood?
And once I saw those things… something else came up. Sex. And my capacity for love.
Here is another area of my life that I’ve struggled with. Seeing myself as ill and the only cure was male attention.
I started to question what I wished to be true about sex for me, and what my actual truth was about sex. In what I had previously thought to be my ideal world; I would be able to have fantastic sex, yet remain unattached. Being unattached meant I didn’t have to fall in love or risk the chance of getting my heart broken. I would get off, he would get off, we’d be completely satisfied and go about our lives being unaffected by the human connection. Much like how I wished that I could eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream without feeling completely let down afterwards.
Part of me felt like I’d conquered something, the other part wondered why I’d done it in the first place when I knew how it ended and the ending nearly always sucked. Perhaps I’d been using sex in the same way I’d used my other frenemies; sugar and booze, covering a wound I no longer had. Am I actually scared of love and believing myself to be unworthy and undesirable or have I grown past that now to realize that I do desire love and that my feelings aren’t as terrifying as my ego had once lead me to believe?
The beauty in all of this is seeing my life in retrospect. Releasing sugar and alcohol, among the physical benefits of feeling less bloaty, cranky, tired, and generally gross, gave me the ability to see myself again.
I am able to look at the woman I used to be and the woman I’ve now become with the clarity and ability to choose a different perspective. Why did I need to be afraid of getting my heart broken? It has been broken before, and I didn’t die. In fact, my heart feels better than ever. Vulnerability is a gift.
We will not escape from this life without the experience of pain in one fashion or another, but can we find ways to be present with it when it’s happening so that it doesn’t stick around to be dealt with by our vices?
Upon reexamination, can you see a place where you’re trying to fill a gap that no longer exists? Some sort of lie you’ve been telling yourself about how much you’re worth? Some sort of lie someone else told you that you believed? Is it possible that when you look, when you really see yourself for who you are, you will see that you are whole, perfect, and complete?
You may need nothing to help you cope, other than the realization that there is nothing there to cope with. You are not broken. You, my darling, are love.