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. 

Saturday, March 08, 2014


It's Saturday night, the kids are in bed, the dog's been bathed and I'm sitting here perusing drafts of blog entries started and abandoned. I used to blog at least once a week, sometimes several times a week. Now, not so much.

This entry was started months ago. Owen was still in diapers. Danny was just about to turn 7. Fiona wasn't yet riding a two wheeler. A lot has changed. We'll start with Owen who takes adorable to a whole new level.

I don't have to go pee.
It's time to try.
He sits. He pees. And then he looks up at me and says: You were right.
Me (in total shock): Whaaaaaa?
Owen: You were right and I was wrong. 

I was saying Hi, Owen informs me after he'd opened a kitchen window.
Who are you saying Hi to?
The trees. Oh, of course.

Molly is cleaning my hands, Owen says. Oh boy. Molly is the dog.

Look, mom, Owen says. 
I can't, honey. My eyes are on the road. 
You can see the road from my window.  

I am hungry, Owen says in robot staccato.
You are a robot. You do not require food, Jim replies in the same robot voice. 

He's in love with robots, though.

What's will my pup pup grow up to be, mom? Maybe a robot like me. Yeah. 

My diaper is like a potty, Owen informs me.

And he's still obsessed with his penis.

My penis is touching me, Owen says.

My penis is looking at me, Owen claims as I'm changing his diaper.

My penis is cold, Owen tells me after coming inside.  

And he still sucks his thumb.

I'm not sucking my thumb because there are police officers over there, Owen informed me.

Fiona actually doesn't say much. 
Owen, you forgot to find me! I was in the closet! Fiona wails. It's risky playing hide and seek with a 3 year old. We found him in the kitchen happily eating.

Mom, do you want to see my picture. It's Queen Fiona, she says. See? My girl does not do princesses. She knows who's really important.

Danny, you are asking me to do three different projects and I can't keep up with that. I'm going to have an anxiety attack.
Fiona pipes up: And then she'll run away from home. 

Danny is actually kind of fun to talk to these days. He's at the edge of the age of reason. And he gets along better with his sister now.

She's fun now that she's five, mom, Danny says.  

Don't put the peppers in your nose or on your face; put them in your mouth. 
A mouth is part of your face, mom, Danny says.

Now Danny, what are you NOT going to do [to your siblings]? I ask.
Boss them around and spank them. Good boy.

There's only one adult here, Danny says.
Who? Where?
Right there. You.
I'm an adult? How do you know that?
Because your legs are bigger. Oh, of course.

I can get a car when I'm 16, Danny explains.
Oh, how are you going to do that?
You can buy it for me.
Um, how about you save your money and buy it yourself?
Meh. (Seriously, he said "Meh.")

And here's why I dread the day he gets a license ...

That was dangerous, we hear Danny squeal from the backyard. A few minutes later, he came over and explains to us that he rode his Big Wheel down the slide. So we went back to watch this spectacle. I saw one ride down the slide and said: Let's make that the last time.

Jim's response? Let me give you a tip, buddy. Keep your center of gravity low, lean back a little. 

A joke from Danny: Why did the chicken cross the road? 
To get a pickle. 

Molly chewed this one, Danny says. 
That's what happens when we leave our toys on the floor. 
NO. We can change her into a frog. 
How about we just pick up our toys?

I've never been 7 before, Danny says.
I have.  
How did it feel? Sadly, I can't remember. 

Till next time ...