I am not sure that there is anything that I have been more addicted to than sugar. There is a long list of other things but the one that remains a constant in my life is sugar. And it, like all other substances I have been addicted to, causes me problems in my relationships, hurts me on a variety of levels and is not a sustainable thing in my life anymore.
My kids also suffer from the same affliction. Sugar addiction is an issue in our home and it causes us to behave in addictive patterns that are not healthy.
I went off sugar for about four months and I felt great. I didn’t miss it really and I was happier, thinner and felt better. But then the day came when I told myself “You can just have one...” And then I was off on a month long binge that increased my waistline and made me irritable and inflamed.
I stopped the sugar train again three days ago and like anyone going through withdrawals, I have been having my ups and downs. I think that I may have learned my lesson, but probably not. I tend to not learn lessons from things unless they threaten to kill me and that threat is breathing down my neck.
Last night I got to see how much sugar causes people to behave, myself included, like addicts. My son has been mainlining Dr. Pepper for the last two days. Choosing to drink rather than eat and throwing his already delicate psyche into a sugar addled cacophony of endorphin laden chaos. After two days, he lost his shit. Defending from the kitchen floor in complete meltdown mode, that it “WAS NOT THE SUGAR’S FAULT!” And I could hear the heroin addict. I could hear the alcoholic. I could hear the coke addict. I heard meth literally talking to me from the floor of my kitchen through my 15 year old son. He made excuse after excuse about his conduct, swiping to the side his horrific behavior and words, all to keep the sugar pipeline open and accessible. I don’t think that I ever saw this before, the depth of his addiction, but I did last night. And it was a turning point. For me and for him.
At first I took him on like anyone would, trying to reason with him to point out how the sugar had caused the erosion of his ability to cope and deal and eat and take care of himself...but he responded with hateful words and I quickly realized that I was talking to the sugar...not the child. And one cannot reason with a wet drunk or a sugar indulged teen. I watched him defend his drug of choice and make every excuse in the world so as to keep his BFF sugar within his reach. His need to maintain his relationship with sugar, life affirming to him.
And I saw myself...with alcohol, sugar, men, dating, shopping...you name it really. I saw the addict sitting on the floor of my kitchen, strung out and in need of a detox.
And my heart melted. God, I have been there...recently too.
I know how hard sugar is to give up. I know how hard it was to quit drinking and smoking too. I know how hard it is to be addicted to things and to not see how it is impacting my life and almost killing me while I am still there defending my right to die by my own hand...
And I saw it in him last night. I saw how much sugar had him by the throat. And I also saw that I can only do so much...it is his addiction after all and I know better than anyone that the addict stops, when the addict stops...maybe.
I can be grateful today that it is not heroin or meth or alcohol or vaping...and I am. But last night I saw that my son and I were both in the grip of a substance that was making decisions about our lives: what we ate, how much we ate, how we related, how we behaved and I was horrified for both of us.
I am firmly committed to day three no sugar and I will do my best to help him see how sugar is negatively impacting his life and relationships. I will try to be a better role model for him and my daughter...but I know that I can only control myself...and sometimes not even.
Because in the end, we all use things to lift our spirits, comfort us and make us feel differently in the moment. That is what addiction really is, an inability to stay with hard stuff or the moment just as it is...painful, acute, harsh, hard, unrelenting. I didn’t start drinking because I liked the taste or because I wanted a career in the liquor industry, I drank because I liked the effect produced...and that is the same reason that I eat sugar. I like the instant high I get, the sweetness of the thing, and I like the way it changes how I feel most of all. For a moment, I am lifted out of me and my problems and delivered to a place more palatable...literally.
But if I know anything at all, I know that I can’t run away from the present moment and all it is here to teach me. The lessons are mine and they will come regardless of how far and fast I run...disassociating all the while.
Today, just for today, I am going to look at my relationship with my most active addiction and see what, if anything, it is really bringing to my life. I will be open to what new information I can gain about myself and I will hope that I can use this information to help my son see his own issues with this substance. And I will surrender to the idea that I am ever going to have all my shit together...that would be pretty sweet...and that, my friends, turns out to be the problem! Choosing sweetness over reality. Except I know already, reality wins every damn time.