Every day I receive a different affirmation through the app Spirit Junkie. It is the brain child of author Gabrielle Bernstein (gabbyb.tv). Today’s affirmation read: “I speak only from my truth.” Without further ado, here is my truth.
Much of the time I wish who you are as a person could be curated much like a museum exhibit. Able to hand pick the pieces that are only attractive, leaving the others to be forgotten in lost attic spaces. Much of the time I am able to curate my life like a museum, but there is a piece that if it were to be left behind, forgotten, my life would transcend my comprehension of what is possible. I can handle and accept the acute pains of life, but this is chronic and I’m tired. The unfortunate thing is that in order to overcome this chronic pain, I have to extend myself further than I thought possible. And that takes an effort that calls upon an energy reserve I have yet to tap into in the fight against this pain. I need help and whenever you are in a state of need, the absolute best thing you can do, is give. I will begin with giving you my story.
It must have been my fourth birthday when I was gifted a half gallon of jelly beans, which I promptly began eating with my siblings and neighborhood friends on the top bunk of my bed. While we shared the many flavors, the whole time I was just waiting, anxiously, for them to all leave so I could take in as much sugar for myself. I got my wish, it was my birthday after all, and promptly emptied the contents of the jar into my stomach. The anticipation brought out a sort of mad energy that short circuited all of my thoughts to how it would feel to consume the sugar. Then once it was in my mouth, pure blissful relief. Once it was all gone I wondered how I could possibly get any more sugar. And running in right behind that thought was shame. It was the most intense shame I had ever felt and for the past 17 years, I have revisited that shame and the addictive high that always precedes it, over and over again. I’ve spent nights drinking straight maple syrup only to force myself to regurgitate it later out of guilt and yet again, shame. Revisiting my four year old self, I promised myself that by the time I was 14, I would not have needed to go on a diet. By the time I turned 14 I was already two years into an on again off again relationship with bulimia. (The use of such language in reference to an eating disorder is revealing of exactly what I was seeking… the warmth of human connection) I loathed my figure despite people telling me I should be a model, and I loathed my gluttony and I loathed my purging. But that loathing wasn’t enough to stop the sugar high I craved deep in my bones and the consequent purges or far more frequent moments that found me crying into my sticky hands.
Even though the after effect of over eating sugar was painful, I simultaneously associated sugar with healing and helping tolerate outside pain. Whether that be trying to ignore the sting of a deep cut or turning away from the stress and fatigue of high school… Despite all logical thinking, I always told myself I would feel better, if not amazing, by eating sugar. And for a second I would in fact find myself suspended in that state of bliss. It was fleeting, but enough to make me realize from that first incident with the jelly beans, that what I was dealing with was far more than a problem of will power. I am the first to say no thank you at a party when sweets are being passed around. Will power isn’t the problem. Like any addict, I bargain and I choose my moments and I choose privacy. I wait until after the party when I’m tucked safely away in my studio. Once I decide upon my plan, I begin fantasizing about opening the bag containing the treat and I feel a rush of excitement and I can feel myself taking the first bite or the first lick of frosting and I want nothing more than to leave that party immediately. It was and is an addiction to sugar.
This is the chronic pain I originally spoke of and over the years it has shown up in conjunction with bulimia, binge eating disorder, crash diets, and so on. It weighs heavily upon my shoulders every day. Sometimes an entire month goes by when I don’t so much as look at sugar and sure enough I end up spending $30 extra dollars worth of sweets at the grocery store one random evening when it’s been a particularly long day and I spiral out of control. Sometimes for weeks at a time. I convince myself that this milkshake or this stack of pancakes that are more like maple syrup flavored sponges will be my last. I bargain. I promise. And over and over again, I break that promise. I’ve gone to therapists, but none of them acknowledged my struggle as an actual addiction. They said that it wasn’t possible, but I know how this affects me. I am having a moment of relief because science is finally catching up to what I have intrinsically known since I was a little girl. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23719144 Sugar can be an addictive substance and in my case it most certainly is.
I’ve tried handling it on my own, but I am writing this post, so clearly that isn’t working either. I’ve tried telling myself over and over again that I need to stop in order to live the life I want to live as a dancer and performer. That I need to stop so I don’t contract diabetes. That I need to stop so I can live my life freely and openly. None of it can beat down the siren call of that first taste though. Even once it has gotten to the point within a binge of the sugar intake physically hurting and beginning to taste off putting, that I yearn for more and so I eat more and more until I physically cannot keep anything else down. At which point I am left with two choices: 1. Stop eating, drink a glass of water, and go to bed 2. Throw up some food creating room and continue eating. It hurts and it sickens me in every way and I want it to end more than anything. It’s a feeling of captivity that encroaches on every part of my life from the moment I awake to the moment I drift asleep. I feel out of control of my own life. I feel desperate and alone. I feel deeply, deeply ashamed. And then I scrounge up the last of my change, walk to the grocery store, and purchase a tub of frosting to eat in one sitting. That is the chronic cycle and I am so very very tired.
I don’t want the shame anymore or the secretive tendencies. I don’t want the adverse health affects and I don’t want the chain that limits me. A chain that confines me to a life that is beneath what I have to offer to this world. But it holds me captive and I am unclear on how to escape. I’m hoping that maybe this inspiration to be honest, this intense call I feel to write to you and expose the struggle I deal with will resonate with you. I’m hoping that a step in being greater than this addiction is exposing it and beyond that, offering support and understanding to you even when I feel like I have none to give… Because I so badly need it.
I’ve scoured the internet for my story. I’ve wanted to come across a piece of writing that resonated with me in experience and tone, but to no avail. I’m tired of looking outside of myself. Part of the healing process is seeking outside help, that is part of any healing process. But I can no longer ignore the glaring truth, it has to be my truth. I have to write down my story. I have to give it away and quit looking for others to validate my experience or pull me out of my misery. I no longer can search for others to be my hero or demonstrate bravery in this realm. In such a case as addiction, maybe because you feel so alone so much of the time, part of the healing process requires you to feel like you are the solo hero of your story. That’s how it feels to me at this juncture anyways. That isn’t to say I wish to ignore the support of others and I will take whatever I can get that resonates with my soul, but I ultimately have to do the internal work. I am saying that I am now willing to do that work. I am ready for a transformation that brings me to my most radiant self. “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
I really wish there was a way to talk about this without sounding melodramatic, but alas that has always been my tendency. I’ll do my best to inject humor in the future. Maybe I just needed to purge myself of the melodrama. Too soon? 😉 The photo definitely helps.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and these comments have not been reviewed by a medical professional. Any content on this website is solely reflective of my personal experience and is not to be taken as medical advice.