My very good friend Meredith and I talked on the phone today. She lives in Charlottesville, VA, and I live here in Portland, nearly a continent away. We've known each other 30 years and our friendship only seems to deepen over time even though we see each other rarely. She's someone with whom I feel comfortable sharing anything that's going on in my life. She seems to understand and what's more, there's such unconditional love from her and belief in who I am that I am able to be however I need to be.
Since I'd just passed the three-week mark with no sugar, we talked about how it's going, how the physical discomfort of withdrawal seems to be fading and the habit of eating to soothe myself is showing up big time. I suddenly felt quite tearful, surprising myself with the feelings that were just under the surface.
I've remarked already in this blog about the cravings that come when I don't feel satisfied by what I'm doing. It's not a perfectionist thing--I'm not unhappy with the work (creative or commercial) that I'm producing. It's more that I'm not fully engaged and there's some loose part of myself wandering around, either mentally or physically. Only part of me is doing what I'm doing and the rest of me is waiting, watching, wanting, mostly wanting. I'm looking for something to anchor me, ground me, center me, and for decades I've been using sugar to do that.
Now that I'm not using sugar, I'm tempted to use other kinds of food even though they don't work. I don't get grounded by another half-sandwich or a handful of cashews or a couple of oranges, I just get full. And my brain and body are crying out for chocolate, or a big cookie, or bowl of pudding and whipped cream, something, anything sugar.
The real challenge ahead, I can see, is finding ways to soothe and satisfy me, as I mentioned to Meredith. I can come up with a dozen ideas, most of my friends could suggest a dozen more, but they all seem like such poor substitutes that I don't even want to try them. And that isn't helpful. So I'm going to create a list of 5-minute alternatives and see what happens. Wish me luck!