From Craving to Cleaning Out… Three Weeks of Sugar (almost) Gone

Figured I’d pop this up here a day early since tomorrow is THANKSGIVING and I’ll be spending it driving, cooking, crying at the parade, and then soaking in family time.

Ironically, Thanksgiving was a big reason I chose November for this challenge. And I think tomorrow is going to be a rather anti-climactic one regarding avoiding sugar. My mom is the best with the roasted veggies (this holiday really is a tribute to our northern farmer family side, so it’s simple and loaded with stuff from the earth), she’s been getting a turkeys from organic farms for the last x number of years for me, and we’ll be packing it all up and eating with Nan in the rehabilitation center on paper plates, which is about as low-key as you can get regarding reaching for some unachievable ideal of holiday perfection. Family and food. I can do that.

So the rest of this week…

No sugar week three

Day 15, Friday, November 18th: Food today… a few cashews, 2 cups of coffee, tea, water… is this a problem (it’s 5:38pm)? Recorded podcast at Bloomberg (about this!). Fun! Realized that the anger I was feeling last week is, in fact, a physical reaction to sugar. And they got me thinking about the larger picture of this project. Psyched to see what makes it into the show, and how it plays into their overall theme. And to have their hosts on my show soon, too!

11:11pm: On my way home from a date, after my friend E’s birthday dinner. Was able to eat some veggies and drink bubbly water, and had a really lovely discussion with her father about self-improvement: about his own self-elected time away from partying, about figuring out his Pavlovian responses to certain things, about what he needs to be a grounded and sustainably happy human being.

One thing he mentioned — and that’s been a recurring theme in discussion with others — was a play on “you can only love another if you love yourself.” Ben and I have discussed the “you have to be ready” idea on the show, and we think that’s only partially true. We’re all going through shit. Most of us have something challenging going on all the time. If we wait for the “perfect” time to do something, we’ll be forever waiting for our real lives to begin. Yes, you have to be able to be able to tend to another while this is happening. To be able to not freak out when things get hard. To be able to put you own angst on pause to tend to another. But you can struggle and be there for another person. I can, at least. My problem is, lately, that I’m not dating men who can as well?

Anway, not being able to eat much or drink has invited others into discussions about their own sense of satisfaction, or consumerism, or habits. That’s the unexpected gift of what I’m doing — how it invites others to share. Interesting.

Day 16, Saturday: It’s getting harder to separate whether a thought or effect right now is from the current challenge or a sum of this whole thing. I’m on the subway en route to queens to drink tea and eat dosas with one of my favorite people (one of my first and favorite editors, and the only one I call Chief), and I’m listening to white noise. Not reading or distracting myself with a podcast. Just literal white noise from an app, plus a bit of “icy snow” in there for texture. I’m just sitting here thinking. Looking at people. Watching.

A few weeks ago I’d debated adding “no distractions on the subway” as a future challenge. And here I am, finding myself doing it more and more, just because. Yesterday, I forgot to bring a book. Just… forgot. Now, I have one and don’t feel like reading it.

Am I enough? Is just being in the world and not consuming enough for me right now? Am I eating less not because of a lack of sugar cravings, but because my body understands it needs less to survive as I deal? I dunno.

6:45: En route home. 5 alternatingly blissful and mournful hours of tea, dosas, and shared woes of writing, anxiety, and the end of optimism. Is this the new normal? If so, we’ve decided we’re at least living full lives until the very end.

Day 17, Sunday: Last week I needed to be around others. Now I need time alone or with someone already long in my pack. Today I’m taking a personal day from social media and the men rotating in my life (you will not date three men at once again, Jacqueline. No.)

Roommate left for Thanksgiving, so I have 3 days the apartment alone and I’m going to keep it that way. The next three days are radio show, tea with my pastry lady friend, and solo time.

3pm. Satisfying two-hour phone call with The Soldier [guy I dated briefly last year — transferred into friendship and sometimes we have very long phone chats to catch up]. [Long time lady friend] is coming over for dinner, and tea scheduled with Pastry P tomorrow night. So my heart is feeling calmer. Working on a transcript. Medicated. Better. [Things were really rough a few hours ago — crying, depleted, oh woe-is-me. Read on.]

Day 18, Monday: Lots of coffee, LB, tea with Pastry P, and a long talk with The Artist. I guess I’ve found my limit — some things in my life get to remain secret.

Day 19, Tuesday: This was my horoscope today. It just seemed like it needed saving.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “Everybody is dealing with how much of their own aliveness they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves,” writes psychoanalytic writer Adam Phillips. Where do you fit on this scale, Leo? Whatever your usual place might be, I’m guessing that in the coming weeks you will approach record-breaking levels in your ability to handle your own aliveness. You may even summon and celebrate massive amounts of aliveness that you had previously suppressed. In fact, I’ll recklessly speculate that your need to numb yourself will be closer to zero than it has been since you were five years old. (I could be exaggerating a bit; but maybe not!)

I haven’t craved alcohol in days. That’s good. And, climbing into bed, realized since doing laundry this morning I’ve had, “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my sheets…” on loop in my head. Which is not what I think Rogers and Hammerstein had in mind. But, hell yeah, feminism.

CONCLUSIONS: So there’s personal stuff I’ve left out of this record because this is supposed to be about the My Year challenges. And while it all feels relevant and connected because, hell, this is my life, stuff has gone on with dating and sense of self-worth and intimate interactions with others and a whole muddle of stuff that would just send this log off the rails.

But I’ll conclude with this:

Because of my medical situation, much of my life has been about taking something away and studying the effect, or adding something potentially “good” in and doing the same. I’ve taken out stimulants and added in supplements. Taken out food and added in drugs. Taken out stress and added in acupuncture and Epsom salt baths and long stretches of… well… nothingness.

They — including the last two weeks — have taught me how to deal. Whether that’s by just being sad or — as it was on Saturday in an edited part of this journal — whether that’s by reading a memoir until something makes me cry and then switching to work, even though I’m supposed to be resting. It’s about having tools in my tool belt that I can rely on — work, reading, cooking, taking a bath, watching television, walking my dog, coloring, meditating, reading my tarot, talking to friends on the phone, journaling, writing for pleasure, cleaning my room etc. — and then moving from one to another when one no longer serves.

While last week I was looking to reach out to others for solace while the world crashed around, this week I’ve needed a little more self-tending. Because there was so much up and down last week — with romance and sex, with work potential, with my finances, and with my satisfaction in the moment. I’ve been dealing with so much… fear… that I can only look a few days into the future at a time.

So the past few days, I’m taking more time alone and focusing minute by minute. Filling my hands and mind with tasks and distractions that I know serve me well. Doing that without a filter feels good.

On the Bloomberg taping, they asked if I’ll be staying off sugar after this cleanse, and I joked about the bottle of red I have waiting to drink by myself in the bathtub on December 5th. And that’s true — there’s a Channing Daughters red I’ve been aging for five years ripe and ready for a celebration.

But I dunno. This lack in my body feels good. This literally taking in of less, feels good in a way that going off of social media and not bringing more stuff into my home felt good. So, who knows?

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