It’s December 5th. Officially, I can eat sugar and drink alcohol again. But I don’t want to.
The weird thing is–and I feel like I should just stop saying this already–this cleanse has brought me far more clarity than I’d expected. Last night, I had another moment of anxiety-riddled panic and was like, “I can get the brownie out of the freezer!”. But then I didn’t get the brownie out of the freezer!
This My Year Of… challenge needs an entire post devoted to takeaways. But as I’m headed down to Brooklyn to meet a colleague friend at Gumbo Brothers and then a pre-record of Love Bites before our live show, here’s the short of it:
My body: I’ve lost nine pounds in thirty days. Which I did not expect. My skin is not clearer, my hair not stronger. I have no more energy other than what is obvious from not drinking at night / being hungover. I still get headaches, but those I always have from being sick. I didn’t get any withdrawal headaches, stomach aches, or direct sugar cravings. But I did see an overall drop in appetite, and an increased “you are full” message from my brain while eating. So my portion sizes were smaller just because my body wanted less.
My social interactions: While awkward conversations did occur regarding why I was demurring what was offered and I did go to fewer work / social engagements, it was almost nice to have the excuse. There’s enough gluttony in my profession. I didn’t miss it.
And the things I did go to–a dinner party hosted by good friends (who are coming to my writer’s group + holiday dinner party this weekend!) and out on dates–were seamlessly interwoven with the abstinence. Being sober didn’t decrease my sex drive or ability to feel connected during sex, and it didn’t affect men wanted to make out with me. Friends drank around me, or didn’t. And, best of all, it became a talking point with some people–drinking around me or not–about choosing to abstain from something as part of discovering negative habits or a greater self-awareness or life purpose. Win.
My sense of self: This one I’m still figuring out. I tapped into a lot of anger, anxiety, and emptiness during this period. Honestly, I’m debating if I need a little brain boost in the form of a pill right now, which is something I have a problem facing (not on the whole–I am 100% in support of people seeking help and recognize that what we call “mental health disorders” are in fact physical disorders… I just have a long and intimate history with using drugs and supplements to handle this stuff, and it’s sometimes hard to make sure what I take is the best thing for me in the moment. Just to be clear). I don’t have a doc I trust right now to handle that with me. So this was a rough period for that.
Also, this is my worst time of year body-wise: it’s dark, it’s getting cold, the leaves are off the trees, and many of my symptoms rise while the earth is hunkering down for hibernation. So that collided with this cleanse.
What I will say, is that I am glad I faced this “sober”. Meaning I had little balm against dealing with these feelings. Which is the point.
I’m realizing that this whole Year… thing is now about just facing what’s in front of me. Of analyzing and being honest about if my choices are serving me well. This includes if the men in my life are treating me as I deserve to be treated. If I am honestly choosing the best goals for myself as a freelance writer (as in, can I sustain this financially, and am I choosing the wrong projects to do so?). If I’m being as brave or vulnerable or honest or strong or too strong as I should be with what or who is in front of me.
Okay, I really gotta run. So I’m not even editing these conclusions. Not even for brevity.
Total. Brutal. Unedited. Honesty. For myself, eat least.
Ha! At least….
No Sugar Journals, Week 4:
Thanksgiving, Day 23: Staying at my brother and his gf’s house while they spend Thanksgiving upstate. Do other single people struggle with transitions as much as I do? When the roommate left for the holiday and I was alone in our apartment, I had a mini panic before settling in for the few days of solitude. Tonight, alone in their house in CT, I feel extremely insignificant. It’s like not many people really know I’m here, and I feel very untethered. Like there’s a big to-do list in front of me just to get myself from A to B. Does it really matter? Does anything I personally do in the world really matter at all?
It was easy to avoid this year because we spent the day where Nana is recuperating from a broken hip / fractured shoulder. Mitra and I made it to mom’s for the parade and to help her peel and cook. She’d already been forewarned to not put any honey / cider / molasses in anything, and we trekked everything up to a makeshift dining room that the lovely people at the home set aside for us, and celebrated together. As my body crashed out in an almost red-devil way (code word with Muffin for mayday, basically), I spent a bit of it with Nana in her room, cuddled under a blanket and sleeping and medicated. So I ate the nourishing food — roast turkey, lots of simply boiled and mashed root vegetables, water — my New England family is known for on this holiday. And then cut up and served the pies for them, which was just as good as getting to eat them, actually. Being around people and feeling love beats pie any day.
Sunday: This isn’t about sugar, again, but about what these challenges are making me think about myself: I’m getting really in my head here people. And it’s actually increasing my anxiety, rather than making me feel calmer.
When I think of myself and my strengths, I am extremely frustrated about how I have very little control over the strength of my body. I feel like a cliché, doing all of this heady stuff of pathetic soul searching exploration rather than just getting out there and doing something for others that’s more physical and time-consuming. Do I need a challenge that’s more about getting outside and out of my head?
Tuesday: Raining all day, body aching. Could really use alcohol and brownies. Cranky and in pain. Could really. use. alcohol. and. brownies.
Wednesday: Up since six, in a car by 7:20, to a lovely day upstate of work and talk and respite from city life in the name of telling stories. Running later than expected in a storm and my car dramatically dies, with just enough gasping for life to make it to friends’ driveway. Dripping oil and flashing lights – it doesn’t look good. But I made it here, and have a bed to sleep in and extra hours with friends I barely see, and Mitra is safe with brother and L. But damned if I didn’t want a drink when offered. I am so. close. Sunday. I thought it was Saturday and that I could sneak a few hours early and have a beverage Friday night. But no. It’s Sunday. So I shall wait. To Monday.
Thursday: Car magically fixed, on the road by 2pm, got a few hours with good friends, lots of coffee, a hot dog wrapped in lettuce (high-five, Five Guys Burgers!) and a few French fries in me. I’m not the kinda gal to throw the word “blessings” around, but blessings upon blessings here, folks. As in, the guys at the garage who saved me for a price I could afford, the Subaru dealer down the street that had the parts we needed, making it to my friends’ place before the car died for good… it all came together. And I am thankful.
Friday: Date night. Amazing Vietnamese food and a screening of Romancing the Stone, sober. I was so tired from this really long week… a week of two radio shows, driving to Wilton — Newburgh — Copake — Fishkill — Wilton — and home again, for another radio show and setting up more shows and meetings, and knowing I was working on Saturday and Sunday. But I muscled and enjoyed his company, sober and happy. Really wanted a drink. But realized that the craving passes. It usually comes with hunger and a need for comfort, which food can satiate, too. Once that has passed, it’s about being warm and comfortable.
Saturday: Last night I had a dream that I sipped my coffee and my “unsweetened” almond milk tasted so sweet that I gagged! It was like my sweet receptors had gone haywire and EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD TASTED SWEET! It was a weird nightmare of a dream, I tell ya. Which was just funny, upon waking. My almond milk, upon pouring and sipping my coffee this morning, was fine. Phew.
Sunday: Worked yesterday, working today, and then crashing in the afternoon. The thing about not drinking at night is you actually do have more focus and energy during the day. I like it.