I could have called this post so many things:
But the truth of the matter is, I am hopeful that the process I am going through right this minute (and have gone through about 43,200 minutes already) will cease to feel desperate, not remind me of crack addiction, no longer have me mourning, allow me once again to eat meals with my husband, and have me not feeling as though I am being tortured most hours of most days of the week. I’m hopeful that I will, indeed, overcome the sugar addiction that I have been quite happily feeding for over a decade now, which went into overdrive when I met and married another sugar addict (isn’t that how it always goes?) and discovered I needed to drop sugar to heal a damaged gut (more on that later).
The funny part to me is that I never realized I was actually dependent on sugar.
Is this true for other addicts? I mean, do smokers not realize they need nicotine? Do drinkers not realize they need alcohol? Is that how it works? Denial writ large, every time?
All addictions—whether as destructive as crack or as seemingly benign as exercise—serve one purpose: to cover up any emotions we perceive as negative (anger, rage, guilt, fear, sadness) and prevent us from feeling and/or expressing them and their attendant shame.
And being 4 weeks into my withdrawal from sugar, I can say, holy shit, did I have far more negative-perceived emotions than I ever thought possible. And this, from someone who has practiced and tried just about every possible healing modality and self-help process on the planet to heal my longstanding wounds!
The crazy thing is, I went easily and happily without sugar for many years. But during those years, I was exercise addicted. I’d get physically and emotionally agitated if I could not exercise, and it had nothing to do with blood sugar (good excuse!) and everything to do with the fact that the exercise—as all addictions do—prevented me from feeling the emotions I did not feel that I was allowed to express. Sugar, exercise, crack—all the same in the eyes of the emotions. All willing to give us poor, mortal people an easy way out as we struggle to (unsuccessfully) cope with all the trauma and drama of being born, being brought up by imperfect people, and becoming adults in an emotion-retarded, addiction-overloaded world.
I’m not sure what the point of this post is (maybe it will reveal itself). All I know is that I felt it was important to share a few insights and then ask some questions of my fellow addicts in recovery.
First, the insights:
Now, my questions for fellow addicts in recovery:
Anyone else silently struggling with addiction, even to something as benign-sounding as sugar, I hope this post lets you know that you are not alone. I am willing to bet that the vast majority of people we encounter on a daily basis are addicted to something. Yeah, there are that many negative emotions being repressed in all of us—and that many great addictions (coffee, anyone?).
Addictions are so easy, and none of us needs to be ashamed that we have succumbed. Even if you’re not ready to quit whatever it is you’re addicted to, and not ready to face whatever emotions you’re avoiding feeling, at least know that you do have the option to quit hurting yourself, and you will find support. I’ll be posting my strategies for dealing with my negative emotions and resisting my addiction in the coming weeks. And maybe some of my fellow addicts in recovery will be so inclined to share theirs below?
Sara Hauber, MA
Coach, listener, observer, writer, and erstwhile teacher; constantly curious
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