It All Changed With Sugar

It All Changed With Sugar

Some twenty years ago, I was driving my hour long commute to work when  a complete panic began to overtake my mind and body.  My palms were sweating, a raging temperature had my head pounding, my mind wouldn’t stop racing, my heart felt like it was leaping from my chest, I was nauseous, and I really was afraid for my life and others!  I was shaking, I felt dizzy and out of control.  Something was horribly wrong and I didn’t know what it was! 

As soon as I safely got to the office, I called the doctor.  It was this, this panicked emergency, that forever changed my life…and that of my family.

Life had been ‘normal’ leading up to it.

Two weeks earlier, I had joined in with the others at my office, trying out the latest diet fad, the Atkins’ Diet. I thought it would be fun to at least try it with them.  For those not familiar with this diet, it was based on eliminating ALL sugars and bad carbs from your diet.  Bad carbs were basically the white carbs:  white potatoes, rice, bread, pastas. 

Admittedly, not having potatoes at every meal was a daunting thought for this Midwestern raised ‘meat and potatoes’ gal, but I did it, although it was NOT easy.

Next, it was time to tackle eliminating all added sugars. 

And this is where my panicked commute came in.  According to the doctor, I was going through a severe withdrawal.  After further probing, she suspected that my body chemistry was way off and that I had been self-regulating with sugars as a mood balancer.  She suggested I take some medicines to stabilize my moods but to also go see a friend of hers, a psychotherapist to really assess what was going on.

A therapist?  No one ever wants that recommendation, and certainly not this version of me. 

You see, the me you know, is not the me that went to the therapist. 

She is not even the me that had the panic attack. 

That me, was an either/or only, no grey in life, obsessive with perfection, fiercely over-critical (mostly of herself and those closest to her), no-joy-in life-allowed woman. 

That me was diagnosed with a personality disorder that we learned had run in my family.  And to make matters worse for this perfection-seeking me, I was told that it was a disorder that many, even with all the best treatment, rarely overcome.

That me was devastated. 

That me didn’t know what to do – she would forever be ‘wrong,’ ‘not normal.’ 

This was against everything she had lived to be.

But then something happened, something that helped ‘kill off’ that me, and replace her with the me, you and I know today.  That me was almost like a computer program – everything was 1s and 0s, black or white, yes or no – nothing in between, and its sole mission was to be perfect so others would never abandon her. 

That me remembered a Star Trek episode where the Enterprise had been taken over by an aggressive experimental computer program and the only way that Spock could stop the crazed program, was to use its own logic against itself.  That me, thought this was the answer. 

And it was.

I know – it sounds crazy, but its the truth.  Its really what I did.

Using the computer program like traits of that me, like the need to be perfect, against itself, that me essentially self-destructed. That me focused so strongly on getting to perfection, that it cancelled out the disorder and remapped brain chemistry, pathways, and all.  This approach worked so well that even my psychotherapist ended up writing a paper about it! 

Honestly, this was a complete personality change!

Before, that me owned only three pairs of shoes (very utilitarian only), liked scrambled eggs only, hated anything ‘girly’, was extremely distrustful of people because they would ultimately fail you or abandon you, and was just angry all the time.  That me looked old before her time.  That me had no joy.

The real, healed me, immediately changed – I loved shoes of all kinds, everything girly, loved Eggs Benedict, loved life, taking risks, adventure, and loved being open to all people and the more that I could experience of them all the better!   

My hair changed, my skin, my laugh, my tastes in foods and life, my smile, my everything.  Today, looking at my photos of that me compared to the real me today, twenty years later…I look far younger now than I did then!  It’s true – love IS the best outfit one can ever wear! 

I’m so proud of those changes that I went through, doing that work, of figuring it out (with the help of Spock and friends of Star Trek lore).  And since then, I’ve prided myself, especially in relationships, on being tolerant, easy-going, accepting and always understanding. 

From that me who was rude, hard, stoic, obsessive, to the me I am today, you can see why I would want to absolutely ensure I was good, understanding and easy-going with people.  Especially with those I love most!  I had a lot of years to make up for and also to never ever be like that me again. 

I thought I was being a good person in this being tolerant of other’s behaviors, becoming a pretzel in contortions of ‘bending over backwards’ for them, like I’d hope they would of me. 

But I’ve also realized that I went too far in my change;  from one extreme to another. 

That I was teaching them how to treat me;  that it was ‘ok’ for them to not be there for me, to not be connected in the ways partners should be for each other, that it was ‘ok’ to treat me as an afterthought, always taken for granted.

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s never our place to change anyone or make them feel bad for how they are, but it is, I’ve learned, indeed our responsibility to ourselves AND to them, that we teach them how we are to be treated. 

It’s simply not fair to the other person or ourselves if we are not honest enough with ourselves and them to share our needs too.   

For me, I will always work to remain tolerant of others, and understanding, but the one I start with first today, is being true to my authentic self. 

This me, this authentic me, has a lot of catching up to do;  being good to me first, so I can continue to be good for those I love and care for. This also means finding the balance of being good to me and to the relationship, by sharing what my needs are too, and moreover, expecting them to be met in balance within the relationship. 

This story of my killing that me, I’ve never shared publicly before.  I’ve never found a reason before to need to.  Today, I felt I needed to share it though because I saw a friend of mine, not really owning her light, what she really needs in her life and I feel strongly she should speak up for herself.

You don’t have to kill off a version of you to speak up for yourself.

You don’t have to have overcome some condition to do so.

You just need to love yourself enough first, to give to you first.  Like when you’re taught to give oxygen on a plane before you give to your children – you can ‘t help them until you help yourself.  We all need to be self-aware of who we are and what our needs are, and to be strong enough in our love for ourselves, to share them with the ones we love!  Its important that we realize that we teach people how to treat us and we should be mindful of that always.

Today I am fortunate and oh-so-blessed to have found myself in Egypt, recognizing that I am a queen who deserves to be seen, heard, honored, and above all, loved, in all ways, always! 

And it all began with sugar. 

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