What does sobriety look like for a sugar addict? I ask myself this question. I’m facing down my desperate, seductive relationship with sugar. In the introduction to my 6-part blog series, I’mPerfectly Me, I explore the myth of comfort food. The key to making the distinction between self-soothing, and enjoying a treat, is the underlying motivation. Chasing a fix for me means a panicked, heart-racing dash to score a two-litre escape of caramel fudge ice cream or a chocolate cheesecake. My motivation is that I specifically want pain to disappear. As with any unhealthy dependence, my intention is to dissociate. This is why I now name my relationship with food as addiction. Writing this series has helped me articulate how I keep sugar in my life. I have to pay attention to my physiological signals so I can distinguish a delightful treat from a desperate fix, a loaded numb. If my motivation is to anesthetize, then some wounded part of myself needs comfort, needs me to listen to whatever previous unhealed part of me yearns to express.
Numbing is the circular coping path between pain and emptiness. My research, and my therapist, help me understand that mental illness and addiction often go hand in hand. The missing ingredient in my recipe for moving from numbing to nurturing is BELIEF. At almost 52 years old, I’m retrieving my innocence. I re-claim my body as my safe place. I don’t want to use (food) to both escape triggers and seal in the pain of old wounds, self-loathing, bad choices, and shame. I’m reprogramming my internal messaging, telling myself that I deserve to be loved unconditionally. I deserve to feel safe inside my own skin.
Therapy has helped me uncover, acknowledge and heal. I don’t need to reach for sugar to survive. I’m now free. I’m building trust between myself and my emotional triggers. They’re the parts of me asking to be heard. So yes, I still experience the impulse to use, but I take care of myself in better ways. With much love and support around me, I’m choosing and preparing foods that show myself the same love and care that I offer my family, my dear friends, my beloved animals, and my garden.
I’m feeding my innocent child self. I’m buying and trying new foods, new spices, and new recipes. It’s a bit overwhelming, but so far, I’m having fun. I’m experiencing “enough” and “satisfied” in surprising ways. Clarity and vitality are starting to replace the pain and shame my fixes masked. Altering the ingredients of my life in order to manage my addiction helps me find my place in this world. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m here to share my stories in order to build connection. The gift of Not Numbing is the ability to find out who I am, really. I’m not my disorder. I’m not my addiction. I’m a resilient woman with wounds and scars. And I’m tremendously proud to be I’mPerfectly Me.
This post completes my I’mPerfectly Me series. Thank you for all the support I felt in detailing this very personal journey in such a public format. I’m passionate about sharing our experiences. I believe compassion leads to healthier individuals, and a healthier world.