Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two weeks of giving up

When I can't control something, I give up.

Either I give up the fight and give in to whatever I'm fighting in a "can't beat 'em, join 'em" kind of way or I give up the fight and stop engaging with the enemy. The latter takes all my mental and spiritual strength.

What am I talking about? Drugs? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Diet Coke? Sugar?

Yes. All of them.

Each of these substances has effected my life. While drugs and alcohol were the most dangerous, the others took me to the same place mentally and spiritually. It's been more than 14 years since I engaged the first two enemies. As my life got measurably better, I came to the same place with each of the other substances. I used them to fill holes in my emotional life that I was not ready to address with spiritual solutions.

The pattern that followed this realization of addiction was the same for each: a desire, an attempt, and a failure to stop, a spiral into shame, and use of the substance to ease shame. While Diet Coke and sugar don't sound like formidable foes, they became just that for me. I had an endless supply tucked away. My day often revolved around when I could have my drugs of choice. Caffeine and sugar crashes became my new hangover, complete with exhaustion, crankiness, remorse and swearing off of the substance.

I know what addiction looks like. It looks like a bag of jelly beans hidden in the console of the van. A stash of change to feed my need for a Circle K $.79 Diet Coke fountain drink. A squirt of whipped cream straight into my mouth while fixing dinner. An entire box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake rolls devoured in one sitting. Working out and then convincing myself that I deserved to eat that Big Mac.

Irrational thinking. Irrational behavior. Since the beginning of the year, I've known that things needed to change. After each binge, I'd tell myself, "It's only two months till Lent, then I'll give up."

Obviously, step one in this process was to eat as much sugar as possible. You know, so I wouldn't have a stash left in the house. That was my favorite part! My next step was to stop drinking caffeine for 21 days. I did this is February. That broke my dependence on Diet Coke. Now I drink one Diet Coke a week on pizza night and a half cup of coffee every morning. I figured that I totally abstain from enough substances. No need to torture myself, you know?

Now, my husband just happened to be reading about fasting to cleanse your system. Apparently, two days prior to a fast, you should eat nothing but fruits and vegetables to make the fasting easier. So that's what we did. I did well those two days, except that on Fat Tuesday, I ran into the priest who offered me a chocolate peanut butter truffle. Of course I ate it. But Wednesday was coming and that priest-sanctioned chocolate truffle was my final rationalization.

Day 1: Ash Wednesday. My husband and I had agreed to fast this day. By lunch time, I had to eat something. I decided to go with the U.S. Conference of Bishops' recommendations - one meal and two small snacks.

Day 2: I ate a lot of raisins. And discovered frozen banana ice cream with cocoa powder and red tart cherries.

Day 3: It started to get easier.

Day 4: I decided that I needed more protein. I cooked off a pound of bacon and a whole chicken. And that has made all the difference.

Day 5: It's kind of a blur.

Day 6: To avoid dessert, I took the dog for a run after dinner (that was a first!) and still wound up dishing out ice cream to the kids. With whipped cream. It took all my strength to not squirt a little bit into my mouth.

Day 7: One week down. Initial observations - I crave baked goods, candy, and even fruit less and less. I don't eat much after dinner anymore. I no longer feel exhausted by midday. Exercising is easier.

I'm starting week three. I no longer count the days. I no longer crave sugar. I no longer crave food after dinner. I no longer use food as a reward. Things that have made it easier: eating the same thing for breakfast (spinach, mushroom and onion egg scramble with black coffee) and lunch (salad, a half an avocado and meat), eating every few hours, eating lots of raw vegetables and having lots of cooked off protein available (bacon, chicken, hard boiled eggs). 

I also remind myself that I'm not giving up forever, but just for today. 

1 comment:

monica said...

sounds hard, but worth it.