revisiting the sugar cleanse

Sugar is snow. Sugar is drug. Sugar is statistically proven to strip me of my dignity and my health. And yet.

Sugar is laughter. Sugar is energy. Sugar is of nature, a perfect sweetness in the right balance.

I’m seeking balance again. I feel like I crawled out of the grief stricken battle ground of 2014 with chocolate smeared on my face, and weight that I’d lost the year before (arduously, hardest thing I ever do) returning so easily that I felt guilty for ever trying to leave it behind. I had the moment that I think all people of glorious size have: is this just how it’s supposed to be? Should I just stop fighting?

I adore my body. I spend a ridiculous amount of time walking around naked saying yes goddess octaviafridanina thank you for this body! And also too, I adore health. I love this body best when I feel like I can make intentional healthy choices that my body likes.

I’m also a bit of a hypochondriac (Oh shit is this celiacs? Diabetes? Whooping cough? Do I have a tape worm alien parasite? No? No? But how do you really know? Oh…health insurance? But I’m an artist. Hmm. But what if it’s…and so on) so healthy choices are my best way to avoid paranoid journeys through the haunted house of Web MD.

The best thing I’ve done for myself related to health, in terms of how I’ve felt, was a deep examination of my relationship to sugar. It’s in all the things I like, and it makes me mindless around food. I can order and consume a pizza with no presence whatsoever. When life gets tough, as it did last fall, I can sort of look up and find that somehow there’s an empty ice cream pint on the coffee table. Then my body and energy are all messy trying to remember who I am.

So I declare it here.

I am a Virgo creator in springtime.
I am a self loving human who smashes to-do lists and walks directly towards what I long for.
I imagine worlds and generate possibilities for a living.
I can do this!

So I’m doing another sugar shift starting today. I don’t frame it as a cleanse in my heart, because this is a long long process of unlearning sugar as comfort and rediscovering health. Something like 50 people are doing some version of it too on Facebook (let me know if you want in).

Some tips from last time, and for travel:

– know the possible meals I can have for the day, both what I create and what’s possible when eating out. Time travel to the hardest one and make a plan. Build up to trusting myself to hold the line in the moment.

– be a snack warrior. Have things in my bag that will actually get me through. For me that’s trail mix and tuna.

– decide my adaptations beforehand. Some folks are doing the cleanse with fruit, or with specific grains, or one glass of white wine in the evening. Again, decide what I need to get through it and then lock it in. It’s only 21 days.

– drink so much water. Big glass with fresh lemon in the morning and then keep the bottle in hand all day. When I think of food, drink some water before taking any other action. My skin will praise dance (after the initial toxin flush breakout which I will welcome as indications I’m actually doing it…and not pick at!).

– move my body. Whatever movement feels like a celebration in my body, I’ll do that. For some people it’s running. For me it’s dancing. I’m alive! Act like it.

Those are the main things I can think of as I begin again this humbling daunting necessary journey.

I’m doing this while book touring, so I need all your love and sweetness now. If you see me, you can ask about the cleanse, but mostly ask me how I am, tell me I’m glowing and give me a big hug.

I’m going to seek the pleasure in this experience. Blow me kisses.

sugar is a white noise

as soon as i slow down i can see it’s not about the sugar, it’s about the pain.

it’s not just eating more greens, cutting out this or that from my diet, doubling my water, exercising. those are good smart things for humans, yes. but i have to give myself adequate room for the pain.

there is a way sugar is, in nature, a way we are meant to have it. the impact of a banana is so different from the impact of a bar of sea salted caramel chocolate with pecan bits…my body knows, because it is of the earth. it remembers surviving and grieving before sugar was our primary collective comfort.

it remembers that pain takes time.

beyond that sweet way of nature, sugar has a disorganizing effect, blurring the edges of life between infusions. i was feeling something hard but then i found the whiskey.

perhaps this is why we start comforting and rewarding children with sugar so early. the pain is coming and it cannot be avoided. but here is something faster, more tangible than god, and it will make the pain taste sweet.

after the service there were cookies, i anticipated those more than scripture.

then later in life you, i, try to make grief sweet.

in the quiet and the stillness i can feel the ache of who i don’t have, the presence throughout my body, the longing to hold my unborn nephew or niece, to look at charity’s smile and tell her how much i respect her, to hold my grandfather’s big hand and let him pray over me, to watch david perform a new poem, to ask sheddy about love, to meet aiyana and treasure and eric and renisha and mike and trayvon and jordan and see how precious they all are.

yesterday i was biking up a hill, and i tilted my head down so that my new turquoise straw hat, which is very glamorous, blocked the view. i convinced myself i was going downhill, looking only at the concrete moving under me, thinking like ender. i willed it into being a coasting, not an effort. it worked most of the way and i was giggling. and then the truth showed up in my thighs, my knees. look up. this is the hill.

this is the grief.

the dissonance comes when the sugar high, the delusion of sweetness, the delusion of control, is gone. the pain is not sweet, even though it is love. and it is not gone. it is sitting as a sharp emptiness in my gut, and it wants to be respected.

not reasoned with. it is, i am the one who has to accept it.

sugar is a white noise i make to block out the sharpness, the wailing, replace it with insatiability. i want, i need, i am alive.

then it’s dark, and there is no desire that will feed me, there is just sitting with what is, humbling myself before the things i cannot have, letting them go.

when i lose something, i try to keep tokens of it in my body. perhaps if i am bigger, softer, i can fit more memories inside myself, carry all the lit flames with me forever. this is semi-conscious now, i can’t claim the cluelessness of my younger grief and comfort eating. now i know, i know what i am trying to do, i know that it doesn’t work, i go through the motions, still hurting.

what i can carry has no weight. the little essence of a human, the distinctions, they don’t need heft, they only need time. i have to sit still and say their names. i have to let that sharp feeling move through me gathering up breath and tears and volume.

sugar is a false comfort, wrapping a festering wound in a beautiful scarf when actually it needs oxygen.

i have to let it out.

everything is undoable, and no two people, even in the most intimate togetherness, remember the same way exactly what is done. even if i can’t remember it, what i have consumed lives in me, what i have loved, when i have fucked up, when i have misunderstood, where i have held my integrity. it’s done, it’s perceived, it happened.

i have to remember what we did. i only have to remember my part of it, but i have to remember it.

my perspective sometimes feels so tiny, compromised. sometimes it seems like only the parts of my memory that hurt are really clear. maybe everyone isn’t like this. maybe it is a choice?

yesterday i felt 36. i was wearing sensible shoes and a wide brimmed hat, overt glossy sunscreen. i thought it would redirect certain attention, but still there were men in town trying to speak to me about sex while using other words, asking me to go swim or walk with them. i felt amused because couldn’t they read the CLOSED sign of my shoes? i felt enraged because couldn’t they see that i was preparing to cry?

i am learning to shake my head no in a more definitive way.

i am learning to care for my body.

i am learning to place my longevity ahead of social norms for how a woman like me should present herself.

i am learning i can’t make everything feel good.

i am learning to be still and quiet for a long time, with myself.

i am learning the limitations of coping.

i am learning to feel.

i think pain is teaching me these lessons.