No really. I’m serious. I have a problem.
I was planning to write about how you can have a healthy relationship with chocolate, and then I realized that is totally what an addict would say. For me there is no healthy relationship to be had.
I do so love being honest with myself. But this – this is hard. Chocolate is the only thing that numbs the pain.
It seems so innocuous that I’m addicted to chocolate. And the fact that I mostly eat chocolate that I make myself out of equal parts organic raw honey, cacao and tahini (sorry for enabling) makes it seem especially innocent. But make no mistake, chocolate has many dark sides even if you do only buy fair trade organic.
A couple of days after Christmas I had an awakening. The day got off to a challenging start. My daughter was feeling out of sorts and was whinging – telling me that she needed to have a big cry. All I wanted to do was to make breakfast and to get to the beach (first world problem, I know) where my husband was already having a morning workout. I felt trapped and resentful, and as I began to feel the agitation quickly rising in my system, it hit me that I was not only in the grips of PMS, I was also feeling the effects of the gigantic bowl of chocolate chia pudding that I’d eaten the night before.
I wish I could say that this realisation led to some mindful breathing and calm connecting with my child. Nope. I just prayed for my husband to walk through the door. And as soon as he did, I escaped – making sure to take my cacao, banana and berry smoothie with me. Yes, it was that bad.
I lay face down in the sand (on a towel) and sobbed for a good while. I cried about how I couldn’t be loving and patient with my daughter. About how I felt trapped by her intense and seemingly relentless needs, my raging PMS and my reliance on chocolate as a coping strategy.
I come from a family full of addicts, and even though my “problem” is socially acceptable, it is not working for me anymore. Unfortunately it is wreaking havoc on my adrenals and creating a dependency on false endorphins.
After my big cry at the beach, I did some journaling. (By the way – if you think this blog is my journal then you should take a look at my real journal. Not the same thing. I’ll spare you those details.)
Then I did a little yoga, meditated for a few minutes and then thought about my dad. I thought about how much he had meditated and how hard he had worked to overcome his addiction and how he did it for the sake of his children. I thought about all the tools that I have that he didn’t have. I asked myself if I was willing to use all those resources toward a greater level of wholeness. I acknowledged that the only thing missing was letting go of an old belief that even if I made a big change, I would not be able to sustain it and that I would end up like my dad (or maybe my biological mother or my sister). I imagined a life without dependence on this drug and asked myself if I was ready to give up that sabatoging belief. And the answer was yes!
I went for a swim and I met each wave shouting with joy “I can do this!”
Never mind that I have had chocolate every day since then. And that every time during this holiday period that my daughter has been off-track in the presence of my mother-in-law, I have felt frustrated and embarrassed and wanted to reach for the chocolate.
But now, I have created a loving limit for myself from the 1st through the 30th of January 2013. So today is different. Today, I am not having any chocolate. I am going to feel the pain. And the exhaustion.
At least I will try to for 30 days. At the end, I may celebrate with these sugar-free Chocaramel OMG’s. I hope that I can find a healthy relationship to chocolate, but I may have to stay away forever.
Here’s a list of the resources I’m going to use to kick this and that I believe could be useful for any addict:
1. Listening time – with my partner, my therapist or another parent. Feeling your feelings fully without a filter of chocolate/alcohol/benzos/choose-your-poison can be hard work. But hard work is what I’m all about. This means that I will need support. Luckily one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get more listening time.
2. Movement and meditation – For me these are the same thing. I can sometimes do seated meditation for more than a few minutes, but I know that movement is really just as valid. The bottom line is that to make it through a 30 day chocolate-free challenge, I’m also taking on 30 days of regular mindfulness practice. I can’t do one without the other. And unfortunately, “chocolate meditation” is not going to cut it.
3. Sleep – I’m not going to get off this stimulant if I don’t get enough sleep. Just as I’m not going to get enough sleep until I get off this stimulant. I may not be able to keep up with this blog, but if in 30 days I get to write a post about how I met this goal, it will be worth it. I don’t care that Leo Babauta says goals are overrated. My goal is going to sleep.
4. Balanced Blood Sugar – Blood sugar issues and addiction go hand in hand. It is no surprise that my father ended up diabetic. I have been mostly sugar free for 6 months and totally sugar free for the last 4. I couldn’t even have contemplated this without the help of my friend the Sugar Mama. I still have to watch out that I don’t dip into hypoglycemia which can cause me to reach for another carb hit or worse – chocolate.
5. Balanced Brain Chemistry – We can use our drug of choice as an upper, a downer or a pain reliever (or even all three), and this goes for chocolate as well. With the help of the book The Mood Cure and amino acid supplementation, I am hopeful that I can give chocolate a break. It has served me a little too well…
6. Balanced Gut Flora – Overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts can contribute to addiction. I am attempting to address dysbiosis and leaky gut with the GAPS diet (along with supplementation). I no longer believe that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to gut health, but I am convinced it is an unavoidable pursuit for anyone with addiction, mood or autoimmune issues. Unfortunately, I have all three.
7. Balanced Nutrition – Chocolate cravings often point to a need for magnesium. Chocolate is also high in copper which displaces zinc. Because of my biochemical profile, I need extra magnesium and zinc and to lower my histamines (which chocolate is also high in). Not surprisingly, there are connections between addiction, under-methylation, PMS, adrenal burnout and copper toxicity.
8. Stress Less– Life is not an emergency. This is the year for me to let that lovely reality sink in.
This is really a process of authentic nourishment and unconditional self love. And if it gets too hard, I can always revert back to the simple version of my New Year’s resolution – just breathe.
I do believe I can do this. After all, I quit sucking my thumb when I was nine (yes nine!), and I quit smoking when I was 31 (yes, I smoked – eek!!). And now, thanks to this blog, I have something to hold me accountable on the chocolate.