When will I learn? Will I ever learn? I reached for my cranberry water mixture I had smartly placed next to my bed to gulp it down, hopeful it would soothe what I would consider the driest mouth I have had in a long while.
What time did I fall asleep? Did I even watch five minutes of the new show my partner and I are watching? Why was my brain spinning with the bad trip down memory lane?
What woke me was not the dry mouth, but a strange dream I had of a friend of mine telling me how a post I had made on Facebook about teachers was misconstrued. In the dream I had no idea what she was talking about and was trying to explain to her that what I wrote was actually giving a shout out to the teachers and she was pointing out that the words I chose were being read the opposite of my intention.
OMG, I thought. I am dreaming about social media. What is wrong with me?
That dream led me to the rewind replay of every bad decision I have ever made in my life. I headed back in the time machine to sixth grade when I was eleven!
Did I dare look at the clock with the fear that it would confirm what time it likely wasn’t? Please let it be at least 5:00am, I thought. 4:15, phew, not bad. At least it wasn’t 3:00 am. As I did a rewind of the previous day, I reminded myself of the culprit of this bad thinking.
Brownies and ice cream.
I knew this past Sunday was going to be a downward spiral when I started thinking about a glass of wine at around noon.
Bad. At least I waited until three o’clock when I could use the excuse of my front porch concert series for a nice cold glass of white. I had already started thinking about the brownies I would be making using making them for my son as an excuse.
And three glasses of wine later, lasagna for dinner and brownies and ice cream for dessert, sleeping by 8:00pm was the reason for this rewind brain that I found myself nestled with as I tried to convince myself that I could fall back asleep.
No chance. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, though my friends in AA might wink at you from across the way if we were standing together. I do, however, consider myself a sugar addict which is why, for the most part, I stay clear. I know what sugar does to me. It is a luring temptress.
Go on, Alayne, make the brownies, you can have one or two, I mean life is worth living, right? This must be the same feeling that heroin addicts get when they are trying to stay clean.
Sugar is powerful and what I know with absolute certainty is that my mental state is best served without it.
I have learned that wine is not so much the problem as sugar. I do know that wine is sugar which is why it often leads to a big bowl of brownies and ice cream after one more glass than I know I shouldn’t have.
The temptation of sugar is sinister, though. Usually it is after a few weeks of complete avoidance, which generally leads to stunning mental clarity and an emotional sharpness that points me and my brain in a most positive direction.
Then with that nice clear head, my brightly lit brain gets the idea that a nice heaping bowl of ice cream will be ok. Forget about the diet part of it which is the never ending brain speak of mostly every woman I know — I am talking mental state.
Sugar, more than anything else, fucks with me. It causes my brain to spin, to self doubt, to beat myself up for past errors that have nothing to do with the now. The insidious nature of it is how quickly I forget when I am contemplating the deep dive.
Sugar is a powerful drug and absolutely disrupts my positive outlook. Of course, not while I am indulging. While I am enjoying the yumminess, life couldn’t be any rosier. It is the next couple of days when the effects on my mind take hold. I find myself questioning decisions, self worth, and relationships.
If this seems over the top, I wish it weren’t. I have been studying myself ever since I read the book, Potatoes not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons, when it came out in 1998.
What I learned was that I am my own human experiment. I began my journey back then dipping my toe in and out of the world of eating sugar and not eating sugar.
This is not a question of willpower here. Sugar is not something I can just have a little taste of or a small bite of and call it a day. My life with sugar has always been a force to be reckoned with and what I have learned in this self study besides the weight part of sugar, it is an absolute detriment to my mental health.
So the question from many people who may know my battle is likely, then why would you allow it into your mouth? I have asked myself this same question many times over the last twenty years after reading this life changing book that set me on the course of self study.
What I have learned is that the wine is often the line leader, but not the cause that leads me. It is no longer my period which was definitely a culprit before menopause.
It is stress.
Stress is the root cause of my trip to the wine, to the brownies, to the ice cream. Not always, but mostly. Stress is the force that leads to the instant need for self soothing.
I know full heartedly that a bike ride, a run on the treadmill, lifting weights, or a good walk in nature or meditation is the best fix for stress, but sometimes I need something faster and a glass of wine does the trick in a nanosecond. One glass does the trick so two is often better, right? As of late, two is where I stop, but if I head to the third, sugar is definitely its partner in crime. So what is stressful?
The beauty of using my own body and mind after all of these years and lots of therapy is I can recognize the triggers usually before I head to the freezer, but sometimes I just decide that I will suffer the consequences to enjoy the splendor.
This is what happened. I knew the consequences to my actions would be washing machine head at the wee hours of the morning and yet I chose to walk through the door anyway.
I realized that closing one of my locations has been stressful. It seems obvious, that making a decision to consciously close a perfectly good business would cause immense stress simply because of the weight of the decision. Even though I know it was the right choice for where I am in my life right now and I am at peace with that part of it, it is still stressful.
I don’t think I give stress enough credit for its power.
The realization that the amount of stuff accumulated over a fourteen year ride that has to be sorted, used, thrown out, sold and then whatever is left to make its way to my remaining business which is also my home is totally overwhelming.
So as I began consolidating the first round of boxes that had made its way from the closed location to the very open location, I was in awe of how much waste there was. And all of this waste falls directly on my shoulders.
This is where I found myself as I found tube after tube, bowl after bowl and box after box of too much back stock for my company. Anyone who owns their own business knows that every tube is not a tube, but a dollar sign. And the amount of dollar signs I had sitting on my shelves, cabinets and in the basement was ice cream and brownie delving worthy.
It goes without saying that stress is an omnipresent force these days in all of our lives thanks to The Covid. We are walking around with stress on our backs like we have never experienced.
Closing a location is stress 101 no matter how much meditation and walking I do, it is a loss and loss is stressful.When stress happens, the sugar and the wine are the quick fixers for the perpetual fight, flight or freeze I have found myself in over this last few months.
What I keep learning is that I know my body and my mind better than anyone and if I make the decision to head to the freezer, it is the best solution for right now. The negative yapping that will inevitably happen is the consequence, but I know that it will pass. As soon as the sun comes out and I can start digging my hands into the abyss that is my basement to get ready to take in what remains of my second location, I will feel better.
Organizing stuff helps me get out of my head and into the present moment. It helps me feel better. It helps me make some sense of my mind, and it soothes. It also helps me move through the the grief rather than around it so I can realize the gravity of this immense loss that has happened because if this unique experience in our lives.
I write about wine and sugar often in hopes that it will spark anyone who struggles with mental clarity and spin cycle brain. I think that growth comes from not necessarily avoiding the challenges, but rather having the tools to deal with them. So when I decide to do my browine and ice cream therapy, I also know what I will be feeling the day after will pass.
And this makes the deep dive worth it.