I'm sitting at my kitchen table right now, with the room a little bit spinning around me. What I thought was hay fever, or perhaps a summer cold, is actually withdrawal symptoms, so I'm a little woozy.
When I feel any way vulnerable or tired or under the weather, my default is to want to curl up in a ball and comfort myself with chocolate or ice cream, or both. But given the damage it has caused me to seek [and sneak] comfort this way, that's not an option right now.
I'm getting food sober.
I have struggled so much to find a sense of sobriety around food. Everything I do, runs the risk of becoming another fucking diet and I am so DONE with dieting. I just haven't the will for it anymore.
What's the difference, you ask? Sobriety is freedom. Dieting is obsession.
Dieting is nothing more than depriving yourself now, of what you'll give in to, later. It's the ultimate, white knuckle ride to the [broken] promised land. And every time you take it, your self belief, along with it's very important but fragile cousin respect, takes another blow. And I resent it.
In alcohol speak, dieting is akin to moderation. If you are or have known, an alcoholic who has ever tried to moderate drinking, you know how short lived and ineffective it is.
Sobriety is like the acceptance phase of grief. Where you no longer fight against reality. No longer need things to be as they were to function. With acceptance, comes a willing reentry into life, albeit changed, but with a sense of assimilation and self renewal.
Moderation, when it comes to addiction, is inherent in the rougher aspects grief. Bargaining. An attempt to negotiate with the thief. To be deprived is to be bereaved of what mattered and opted out of joy, in the process.
With alcohol and cigarettes, it was more final. It was easier (for me) to draw a boundary around it and declare myself 'done'. It may have taken a number of years to get there, but when the day came, it was like a switch went off.
I decided to be done and that was that.
No white knuckle rides, bargaining or ambivalence. No sense of deprivation. I've not had to bribe myself to 'do without'. I'm not obsessed. I'm not possessed. I'm happy. At peace. Free.
Zero energy is being expended in my no longer smoking or drinking. It's all invested in recovery.
Sugar, not so clear cut. It fucking exhausted me, trying to moderate sugar and I finally admitted, I can't. It's just not an option for me. I'm addicted and that's that. Falling asleep at this wheel, has a detrimental effect, triggering all sorts of madness, craving and addict behaviours.
I've finally reached the limit of my tolerance for the havoc sugar wreaks on my life.
The past couple of weeks, I've been finding my way with eliminating the white devil. It's in everything, in case you didn't know, which has meant I've also removed all wheat and grains, milk, yoghurt, fruit, root veg and spuds; *Sign of the cross*, God forgive me.
At first, my evenings resembled scenes from the movie Trainspotting, with me in the lead role as a pathetic junkie, crawling the walls and out of my skin, feening for the fix I can't have.
When it comes to food sobriety, my knuckles are whiter than the Westboro Baptist Church.
Speaking of church, I'm also learning how to pray and I shit you not but I'm now wearing my communion Rosary beads 24/7 for no other reason other than, I'm kind of in hell.
I have always felt so damned and stuck on the food issue. I didn't want to do this and yet, I don't want to not do this.
And please, don't take this as an opportunity to tell me about Keto and how amazing it is and how you're never even hungry anymore. Remember I'm talking to God now and I will not hesitate in requesting you be cursed with more facial hair than is even fair.
Seriously though, I am on board with the damn thing as I have been convinced by Dr Jason Fung and his Hormonal Theory of insulin resistance being responsible for a lot of what I'm up against. It makes total sense and I'm following his dietary and lifestyle advice to correct my insulin and stress levels and while it's early days yet, I'm feeling a lot better already but it's a whole new world, this sugar free existence.
It all seemed very hopeful until I found myself stalking the kitchen presses, trying not to hazlenut.
I am a chronic under eater. I am this, because I am a chronic binge eater. And I am this, because I am a chronic under eater and on and on the vicious circle turns.
I was conditioned to under eat because I was raised by the diet industry and culture and the sugar industry and a time during which, society valued thinness above all else.
When my physiological symptoms are managed, I have a fighting chance but food is not just about hunger for me. I think this is what people who've never experienced eating distress, can't understand. This is an addiction, an obsession. It's the constant game of how much can I get for how little consequence. The sugar game, doesn't even have to be about chocolate. You take apples away from a sugar addict like me and suddenly I'm possessed and levitating over the sink, devouring almond butter buy the jar.
Still, I'm covering my bases. I'm taking amino acids and apple cider vinegar. I'm urge surfing. But it hasn't yet solved the problem of obsession. Have you ever sat in attendance to obsession? it's a relentless torment. A war of attrition.
I can surf the urge alright, but every urge I surf, creates a bigger wave and then another and another and they inevitably build up until I'm out here, trying to out-surf a fucking tsunami. You may put the coastguard on speed dial pilgrim, she's lookin' fairly fucked out there.
So, here I am on my surfboard, trying not to eat all the nut butters and with me, is this very young and inconsolable voice.
'But there's nothing else', she cries.
There's nothing else. Nothing else, that isn't scary. Nothing that can keep her afloat. Pull her ashore. Insulate and comfort her, like food does.
Food is happiness. Food is protection. Food is home.
And that voice. Maybe she's the wave. Maybe the wave is me. Who knows? I don't. Yet. All I know is that I absolutely hate where I'm at with this. Still.
This week, I delivered my RAW workshop here in my studio in Sligo. As I was demonstrating the use of imagery to speak for the parts of us that pace the inner landscape, I was compelled to saddle this magnificent white horse with a photograph of baby me on it's back. Something about how big a taming it is to take these reigns and how disadvantageous the discrepancy of power is, to the baby.
There's an advantage in having this image however, as it presents a symbolic representation of an abstract problem and hence, gives much to work with. It inherently invites creative thinking and an opportunity to reimagine and reframe and it's possible that given time, I might find another interpretation of this dynamic that could work in the baby's favour.
But in the meantime, I've only 10 hail Mary's and a handful of poxy blueberries to get me through.
Always, Amanda xx
If you'd like to learn more about my RAW journaling process as a tool for recovery, I have 2 remaining Irish dates in September and a couple of spaces remaining in San Diego, CA in Oct. Oakland is sold out but there is a waiting list. More info here.