“I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)”

So, what do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about where you’ll be sleeping in a month, concerned that you don’t make enough money to move out on your own, plagued with conflicting thoughts about your marriage and what to do about it, reeling from family opinions telling you you’re not mature enough, berating yourself for not doing more than you are even though you’ve pretty much packed your schedule tighter than a duck’s ass, still mourning the loss of people you love and thought would be in your life forever, head swimming from the sermon your minister gave today about how fragmented we’ve become, wondering if you’ll ever find a place where you felt like you fit in as much as you did when you first found Rocky Horror or started a burlesque troupe, missing the Northeast yet feeling a slow, spreading love for the South, questioning your ever-evolving ideas about polyamory vs. monogamy vs. open relationships vs. dear-god-please-just-hold-me? Wait…you don’t eat half a bag of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips? But…

It’s not a habit, it’s cool; I feel alive.
If you don’t have it you’re on the other side.
I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)

It’s over now, I’m cold, alone.
I’m just a person on my own.
-“Not An Addict” by K’s Choice

Yeah. I’m totally an addict. A sugar addict. I fought the label for years. Justified it. Hid it. Beat myself up over it. Lied about it. Spent money I didn’t have to get a “fix”. However, comparatively speaking, it is cheaper (in the short run) than antidepressants.

Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m addicted because there used to be such a steady stream of sugar into my system that I didn’t pay much attention to it. That’s just the way it was. Grab a doughnut (or two, if you order the special at Dunkin’…plus coffee, light and sweet) for breakfast (because eating something is better than eating nothing, right? Justification much? Anyway.). Have a soda with lunch. Pile on the salad dressing. Eat some cookies as a snack. Dip (and dip and dip and dippity dip) the chicken in BBQ sauce for dinner. Nom upon a cupcake for dessert. Enjoy girly “adult beverages” while late night TV-bonding with your sister. There was a time this was a pretty accurate snapshot of my daily sugar intake.

Currently, I don’t do nearly as much of these things on a daily basis. I’ve weaned myself off soda and sweet tea, and rarely do coffee drinks anymore. I try to steer away from doughnuts for breakfast even though my niece is a terrible, horrible person for telling me about the local place that makes them just like Krispy Kreme. I have an “adult beverage” 1-2 nights per week. I tend to enjoy my salads with far less dressing these days, and most times will do the “dip the fork in the dressing then spear pieces of veggies” rather than slather.

Modifications are good. That and the 4-5 paid hours of exercise a week I get these days have helped save me from ballooning to an even unhealthier weight. But let’s face it. I’m already at an unhealthy weight. Sure, some of the things I’ve told people over the years are perfectly true. When I was younger, I was in tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, musical theatre, and modern dance. Not to mention the fact that I rode my bike or roller skated everywhere and if I wasn’t doing that, I could usually be found at the park running around or in my or a friend’s pool. I was hella active and as such, I’m much more limber and strong than I look. I still dance and love to teach water aerobics and can kick ass when taking an aqua zumba class. On the rare occasion that someone wants to know my weight (and I tell them), they are generally surprised. They knew, of course, that I am overweight. They just didn’t think it was that much. Someone once told me that I carried myself so well that no one would ever know I had self esteem issues about my body, nor what I really weighed.

It’s great to know glamour spells still work sometimes.

Underneath it? Fairly toned, fairly strong (and getting stronger every time I work out), fairly obese, fairly addicted to sugar to even me out. Fairly scared to show my naked body to anyone. In the past, people I thought were supposed to love me and accept me said some fairly hurtful things about my body. That’s hard to get past. Even as I know there are people who’ve expressed appreciation for my body, ranging from my husband to the date I had who wanted to know my thoughts on going to a nude beach (My answer: not favorable, thanks. I mean, I don’t have a problem with other people being nude, I just don’t have enough self confidence in my own body to do it. Also? I hate beaches in general. Now skinny dipping in a pool with the right people…I might could get my head around that some day. But I digress.)

As I’ve said above, I’ve tried to gradually decrease my sugar intake, especially as I’ve been doing more research and reading lately (including starting to read the book called Deep Nutrition: Why Our Genes Need Traditional Food by Catharine Shanaham, M.D. and Luke Shanahan that a dear friend bought me a few months ago) about sugar and healthier diets.

Speaking of, how’s this for mind-blowing? As a woman, I’m supposed to only have up to 25g of sugar a day. That’s 6 teaspoons. The bag of chocolate chips I’m all-too-quickly making my bitch? 220g of sugar per bag. If I’ve eaten half of it (Fine. More than half by now. Shut the fuck up.), that’s at least 110g of sugar just for that one snack. FOUR TIMES the amount I should have. And that’s not counting the mostly healthy fruit smoothie I had (because natural sugars count, too), the salad dressing I had on my chef’s salad for dinner, or the cherry lemonade I had with lunch.

Seriously, my name is Genevieve and I’m a sugar addict.

One of my favorite authors said in her book Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer:

“To whom the fat rolls…I’m tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can’t possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don’t find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don’t matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn’t simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I’ve learned I have to make changes so I don’t, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?” -Jen Lancaster (last sentence emphasis is mine.)

I closer to 40 than 30 these days, and while I can barely afford to keep myself afloat without living on my own so I definitely can’t afford a pedicure (although I never thought I’d like them as much as it turns out I do!), I still need to worry about losing limbs to adult onset diabetus. (Which, btw, I used to think was just a comical way of saying it but living in the South I’ve learned that people really pronounce it that way.)

Because really…I’m addicted. I get shakey when I haven’t had sugar in a few hours. I physically and emotionally relax when I eat chocolately goodness. Within the first bite. It doesn’t matter how much I love vegetables and fruit if I eat more sugar than I do fruits and veggies. If I eschew an apple in favor of a brownie sandwich at Taco Bell. If I almost finish an entire fucking bag of chocolate chips in a 12 hour period.

Thankfully, I know what I need to do. I’ve done it before. Quite simply, stop. Cease eating processed sugar in the obvious snack/drink/dessert forms. Then start cutting out the hidden sugars like sauces/dressings/prepared foods/white starches and carbs. It’s going to be hard. Especially living where I do. I love my sister’s house, but there are at least 4 different kinds of white bread in the house at all times, not to mention the adult beverages, ready supply of chocolate, clearance baked goods, pasta, and impressive array of delicious sauces. Yes, I recognize these things as the excuses they are. No one is force feeding me any of these things. However, it is a slightly easier to begin a new dietary regime when the people around you do as well to limit temptation. But again, that doesn’t make the poor choices I’ve been making anyone’s fault but my own. There was part of me that was waiting until I moved out to really attack my addiction head on. I had dreams of leafy greens and bowls of fruit, nary a processed granule of sugar anywhere in the vicinity of my enlightened abode. Which basically boils down to buying into the “Arrival Syndrome” of “I’ll be able to do this once all the conditions are right. I’ll be happier and healthier when things are exactly as I want them, some time in the nebulous future.” Bullshit. If I’m going to make it happen, I need to just fucking make it happen. I’ve got to learn how to handle myself when it seems like everyone in a ten foot radius of me is mainlining sugar. How to make healthier choices regularly, instinctively and not just after a binge. How to put on my healthy girl panties and stop letting “well, my family made pasta for dinner so I just have to eat that” be an excuse and cook my own damn food if I need to. (And suck it up and deal with the fact that yes, I’m creating more dishes for myself. Bright side: whooo, more standing and movement is better than sitting on my ass!)

So it’s going to come down to picking a day and just doing it. Like I said, I’ve done it before. On October 1st, 2010 I threw myself into paleo. Gave up sugar (except for a once a week “treat”) and cut wheat from my diet. I did it successfully for many months and lost a little bit of weight. Not nearly as much as I thought I would’ve, though. I have to keep in mind that I’m also fighting with my thyroid and PCOS. But those can’t be used as excuses for why I can’t get healthier. They need to be further incentives.

I know it’s coming soon. It has to. Because there are things I want to do that I can’t right now: jump into the arms of someone I love and wrap my legs around his/her waist, be fucked up against a wall, shop in “normal” stores where clothes are less expensive, and be a good role model for the kids I still distantly hope to have one day. Also, at some point, I will be able to afford (or be treated to) pedicures regularly, and goddamnit, I want to have both my feet so I can get both of ’em painted up pretty.

Okay. Fine. Saying it’s coming soon isn’t changing anything. Saying I have to isn’t doing it. So. September 15th, 2013. That is the day. I will change my life, my eating habits, and make consistently healthier choices. It’s about fucking time to, once again, Go For It, Genevieve.

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Unburying myself, part 1.

2012 has proven to be a rough year for me so far.  I was diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease.  Not too terrible to manage; in fact, I’m off the medication I was put on and am doing fine.  However, the more difficult diagnosis was Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  This, coupled with my thyroid problems and anxiety meds, meant that the odds against me conceiving were stacking up at an alarming rate.  Add to the mix that I’m overweight and was about to hit the age where it starts getting dangerous to get pregnant, and I was getting pretty worried.

My husband and wife assured me that we’d work it out.  However, the way they chose to “work it out” was without me.  In February, just a week after a really wonderful Valentine’s Day, I asked my husband on a whim if we were ever going to have sex again.  It’s not the only way to conceive, but it was my preferred method.  It had been about three (close to four) months since we’d last been intimate. I was getting concerned.  And lonely.  It had been about triple that between me and my wife.  I don’t even remember how long it had been since the three of us had sex.  My husband seemed to crumple when I asked.  Feeling bold, I ventured that it didn’t seem he was attracted to me anymore.  His response: It’s complicated. (The response later turned out to be very simple: no, he wasn’t attracted to me anymore.)

I should’ve known right then and there where we were going.  Or at many other junctures along our life together.  Part of me probably did.  But a stronger and more persuasive part (that also listened to them) told me that we would work it out.  I had so much hope and love.

We began talking about a trial separation for a month.  Less than a week after those talks started, it became very clear very quickly that neither of them had a trail or separation in mind.  It was over and they were done.

To top it all off, the company I worked for, which had been very supportive of letting me keep my job “no matter where I landed” post-split, closed.  All signs were pointing to major life upheaval.  Going with the trend and knowing that I needed some time and space to get my life back together, I accepted my sister’s gracious offer to move in with her.  A finished basement had my name on it and now this Jersey girl woman has relocated to the South.

While it’s gorgeous here, and I’m surrounded by supportive family and still in touch with loving family and friends back in the Northeast, I’ve cried a lot. Spent days in bed, feeling like there was no point to life.  What’s the point to dream or hope if the things I wanted, even if I got them would be taken away?  Or even worse, simply choose to walk away of their own volition.  There have been many low points I’m not proud of and I’m sure there will be more.

But. I’m finally in a place where the barest glimmer of hope is starting to shine through the dark.

First, it came from my sister and aunt and father.  Words of strength and humor and support and love.  Then it came from friends; warm, open advice from a friend who’d been as close to my situation as is possible.  This was was a godsend given ours was not the most traditional relationship. The grace of friends who made sure I had a place to stay should I need it, forced me to eat when I didn’t think I could ever eat again (at one point this wasn’t even an exaggeration), flew down here to get me when I visited my sister the first time just to drive home with me, another friend who drove with me back when I came back, and all those who busted their asses to make sure all of my stuff fit into a small SUV and U-haul trailer as I made the trek 1,000 or so miles away for a fresh start.

It then glowed in the perfect eyes of a friend’s surprise ninja baby.  The family dinners near the lake (no cell phones allowed.) The immediate acceptance and love given to me even before I walked into my sister’s house. The friends who are still staying in touch, saying they love me, that they’ll be here for me no matter if I wind up staying in the South or if I move back to Jersey. The mother-in-law who said she loves me and I’m her daughter, no matter what happens.

Sometimes, the support and love has brought me to tearful gratitude.  Other times, I’ve felt completely unworthy and mystified why so many awesome people are so supportive of me.  And then there’s the tiny part that needles me, saying that all the support in the world can’t make up for the rejection of the two people I wanted unconditional love and support from.  The ones who pledged it to me.  The family I’d spent nearly 14 years building.

Many hours have been (and probably will still be) spent wondering if I’ll ever find someone.  I’m polyamorous by nature, but I think I need to start with one before I can even contemplate more. Especially when, right now, one doesn’t even seem possible.  Someone to love me.  Who won’t think my personality is too much, yet who will help me carry my baggage, as I help him with his.  A man to think I’m beautiful even if my weight fluctuates and will be supportive of my voice.  Someone to cherish me whom I can cherish right back. Too much time has been spent depressed by the certainty that I’ll never find that person.  What has finally helped wake me up, literally and figuratively, is that I’m beginning to see that it’s possible to have a happy and healthy life without it.

Would I rather have a spouse or spice?  You betcha.  It’s a goal.  But it’s only one.  It can’t make or break my whole life.  In this day and age, I don’t even need a significant other to have a baby.  I’d rather I did, but I’m beginning to realize it’s not necessary.