Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The loneliness of abstaining

The last few days I've been feeling very alone in my commitment to abstain from sugar. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been around people who say they are giving it up, but they are actually cutting down, not abstaining, at least per their behavior. Their commitment is different from mine, and I accept that with no problem.

But I haven't yet found anyone doing what I'm doing. When I got sober, I clung to my compatriots in AA who were as committed to abstinence and full sobriety as I was. There was a solidarity among us and I could hang on to the belief that if all these people were successful, I could be too. That they knew what I was going thru; they'd been there and come out the other side. That they were willing to give up their comfort, their solace in alcohol (and sometimes drugs as well) in order to be open to what life had to offer and to be fully present, for when we're using we aren't present.

This sugar experience feels quite different. In my couple of years of experimenting with OA, I never found anyone who was giving up only sugar and who had been successful at it. There were people who were abstinent from all white carbohydrates (sugar, flour, rice, potatoes); they followed a special eating plan, but they too seemed to play with it, to be constantly battling staying with their commitment. Maybe I will too, but I'm not ready to say that it isn't possible to just not eat intentional sugar.

And no one I know who is rearranging their relationship with sugar seems to be doing it for the reason I'm doing it--full sobriety. None of them are alcoholic and that may be part of the difference. This isn't just a food issue for me; it's about how I use this particular food as a sedative, as a drug. And that use has been standing between me and an authentic life, one that I'm finally willing to embrace.

I'm sure I'm not pioneering anything here. There are probably thousands of people, especially women, who seem to have a particular relationship with sugar, who have done this before. I just don't know them. And I wish I did.

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