Full disclosure; there were many of years of my life (decades if I’m honest) where my greatest loves were my daughter, TaB, and Camel Lights…usually in that order, sometimes not…if you have ever raised a little girl into an adult woman you will understand how this can be true. Quitting smoking was not too hard for me, I honestly hated how my hair and fingers stunk and really found everything about it revolting, and quitting TaB was brutal but Coca Cola discontinued it & so I had no choice! I recently read a book called DRINKING; A Love Story, a memoir of a woman who comes to terms with her alcoholism and gets sober and it got me thinking about what some of my loves and habits are, or were, and how well, or not, they worked out for me. My current affairs at this moment are with exercise, crocheting, and reading, three things that I don’t think I will ever have to quit, so I guess there’s that!!!
I have enjoyed exquisite bottles of wine and high-end beverages at many different times of my life but it’s never been a “problem” in my life…by this I mean, I can take it or leave it. Here though is a fact about me that I’m not shy to share; when I was on vacation in Mexico, three years in a row, at three different adults-only all-inclusive resorts, when the bars opened at 10 in the morning, I was in fact in the pool at the bar and ready to go! It was a vacation behavior that is not part of my daily life, and never was, but it’s funny how vacation behaviors can start to ooze into daily life for many people…like after you get home and the next Saturday morning includes a bloody Mary, or a mimosa, or maybe four on the following Sunday and suddenly you takes notice, “gee, I am having morning beverages as if I’m still on vacation in Mexico, this can’t be good for me” and so it can begin, or end…fun, like a new love affair, all exciting and fresh and full of joy in the beginning, until it’s not exciting and not new and you have a splitting headache nearly every day! This author describes in great detail this kind of love story that turns bad, when she notices that a bad day of work leads to a stop at the liquor store or a bar and before she realizes it that becomes daily behavior and she starts to think about it before noon and she explains, that anyone can see that what was one day “just to relax” grows into a habit that grows into a problem, for many MANY people. Some of the A.A. stories she shares in this book are truly heartbreaking, and sad in every way, love stories gone bad…very bad.
There is no history of addiction in my family but my mother’s sweet-tooth is the only “problem” that she passed down to us and it’s a dragon my sister and I have to slay regularly. I often think that if you are an alcoholic you have to make an effort to go to a store that sells liquor, and if you are a drug addict you have to go to people and sources who provide you with drugs, both of which take effort, whereas when I go to Target for shampoo for example, right there in the check-out line, even if I ONLY WANT SHAMPOO, there are boxes and boxes and rows of rows of candy from which I can choose and without much thought and no effort whatsoever, toss a TWIX bar onto the scanner…which is sometimes pretty frustrating AND at times in my life has become a habit! The temptation is in your face everywhere you go when sugar is your demon, your “drug of choice,” whereas alcohol or drugs are not really part of a person’s daily errands unless they specifically are out looking for them. I suppose a psychiatrist would surmise that an addiction to sugar or candy is just as bad as an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Decades ago I read an article that explained that the exact same parts of the brain that get excited by cocaine are the exact same parts of the brain that get excited by plain old white sugar, so it is in fact a problem for me. When I listen to podcasts about gut health or food behaviors, the conversations about sugar and sweets are not unlike conversations about drug addiction. It’s no joke.
I know several people who used to have drinking or drug addictions and have gotten sober and completely kicked those habits and they celebrate their sobriety fully…they share details of their failures and successes, they don’t hide their past behaviors & they don’t shy away from the stories. I have learned how hard it is to be an alcoholic and a drug addict and I am not in any way diminishing their struggles by comparing it to sugar and sweets because to be honest, if you lie in bed sometimes thinking about it, it’s a problem, no matter what the “fix” is. I hate to admit it but I suspect that fighting this battle with sugar is as difficult as a “real” addiction and it’s not a competition…kicking a habit that is bad for you is hard, period, whether it’s illegal or not. I used to wonder how it was that people would get out of rehab and then be dead in days from an overdose, BUT I do now, now that I am older, and have fought my own kind of demons, I absolutely understand it…for example I bought a box of dark chocolate salted caramel Easter eggs the other day and thought, well I’ll have one-a-night as my “treat” but before the day was over, before dinner actually, they were gone…they were not very big but they were more than one bite each, and I ate all six. SOooo I DO UNDERSTAND how an alcoholic can get out of a treatment center and have a DUI the next day, or a junkie can get out of rehab and then be dead in days because, much like the lyrics from Guns N’ Roses, I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do So the little got more and more, sugar is not really any different!
Sometimes when you really like how somebody makes you feel, you want to be with them all the time…and I guess that is how addictions start…the whole behavior/reward cycle is common knowledge is it not??!! Love stories are great when all the feelings are rewarding, but when you are irritable and uneasy all the time, there is no reward in that…breaking up with things you love is not easy and just like when you break up with someone, it’s easier to forget about them when you don’t have to see them all the time and you block their number in your cell phone…well, for me, I feel like it might come to that with sugar. If I have to order my groceries online and have them brought to my car to keep myself from going inside a store, that sounds really pathetic frankly, and weak, but if that is what I must do then so be it! When I eat clean whole food I feel better in my body and my mind in every measurable way! When I jump back on the sweet-train-o’sugar I feel restless at bed time and my sore arthritic finger hurts and my bad leg feels worse…the minutes of bliss when sugar is on my tongue is truly heavenly but the problems that come from that linger.
When I quit smoking I said, I just won’t ever buy them again, and I also said out loud one day, sitting in my truck, “today is the day I smoke my last cigarette” and it was…I guess I might have to have a “today is the day I eat my last candy bar” moment…I never think about cigarettes or alcohol…neither one of these things is a love of mine and I guess what was once a love affair for me with sugar really just simply has to end, fully…there can’t be just a bite because that becomes the whole, much like I assume an alcoholic can’t have just a sip. If there was candy in my house I would eat it, even if I knew it was bad for me and made me feel bad. That is a real problem, a real addiction. I understand that I need to modify my thoughts and my behavior if I am ever going to BEAT this thing…However, if Coca Cola EVER starts to produce TaB again, I am jumping back into that addiction with every ounce of love in me…that is, still, one of the saddest break-ups I’ve ever had and truly a love story that never let me down!