Fudge > Fortitude (or, “Blaming Elsie”)

fudge

By: Jana Greene

Today I melted Godiva chocolate chips in the microwave, threw in a little vanilla extract and a can of sweetened condensed milk. I don’t know exactly what happened. I unintentionally made fudge, I guess.

I’m not proud of this.

I have been putting out Christmas decorations all day, all by myself. I am a brand new empty-nester, and there isn’t anyone to help me decorate in the spirit of family tradition. I guess that makes me a little sad.

And hungry.

I’m supposed to be eating healthier, and I WAS eating healthier since this morning when I made myself a green smoothie for breakfast. Green smoothies make you feel invincible, like if you literally cram enough spinach in your almond milk and bananas, you can leap tall buildings in a single bound. In reality, it does help you go to the bathroom, which can be no less impressive.

Anyway, I smugly sipped on my green smoothie all morning, giving myself mental high fives for being such a HEALTH NUT for drinking one shake. I was on my way to a slimmer, healthier, more attractive, less jiggly ME and this shake would so satiate me that I will give carbs in all their delicious varieties wide berth for the rest of the day.

And then I opened the pantry and saw a little can with this happy little cow’s face. She looks like she just took a lot of really effective drugs, but no …. she has been dipping into the sweetened condensed milk, and I’ll tell you how I know.

elsie
LOOK AT HER FACE. I want what she’s having.

Because sweetened condensed milk tastes like hopes and dreams.

The next thing I know, I am standing at the kitchen sink crying a little about my empty nest and consoling myself with the same sweet nectar that makes Elsie the Cow look like she just won the lottery on the label.  I’d dip the spoon into the melted Godiva chocolate…consider the lonely affair of putting up lights by myself and cry just a little……dip the spoon into the sweetened condensed milk…..feel my eyes go back in my head in rapt pleasure.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Until I have a really bad chocolate goatee and a sugar rush to end all sugar rushes.

“MAKE THE FUDGE,” one part of my brain implored. “You can save face if you just make fudge!” So I did, to avoid eating the whole gooey mess with my fingers. Fudge is a very acceptable thing to make at Christmas time, right?

The other part of my brain said, “NO! STOP! Your green smoothie was all for naught if you don’t stop mainlining sweetened condensed milk like a sugar fiend. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU”RE DOING. Remember how fat you felt at the Christmas party last night? Green smoothies didn’t get you that way. THIS BEHAVIOR makes you feel miserable”

That particular part of my brain got super dissed today. I made the fudge. I licked the spoon. AND the bowl.

I washed away all the evidence in the sink, but I’m blogging about it here because I need to be honest. Although I wouldn’t call it a binge exactly, I WAS temporarily possessed by a cartoon cow on a label and gave in to my baser, fudgier instincts.

And I need to be accountable, right?

Tomorrow is a brand new day with green smoothie possibilities galore. Thank God for second helpings, er….second chances.

God bless us, every one.

Tasty Feelings, Empty Hole

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By: Jana Greene

I never in a million years thought I’d actually be a writer. Oh me of little faith.

I never thought people would read my words, much less follow my blog. But here I am, blessed beyond measure to be able to share my crazy motherhood, marriage, and recovery journeys with people – sometimes total strangers – who can sometimes relate. It’s incredibly humbling and befuddling, this whole blogosphere experience. Weird, yes. But also wonderful.

As C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

You are never the ‘only one.’ I know I’m not either, which is why I am blogging about this situation.

In the interest of transparency, I think I need to be honest. I’m so embarrassed. I am going through a scary season in my personal life, having resurrected my old starve / binge / purge behaviors as they rear their ugly eating disorder heads. It’s gotten pretty bad and I am sick and scared. I starve myself until I’m famished and then binge to a ridiculous degree. I don’t know how to stop. I’m so ashamed and disgusted with myself because I I cannot seem to control it. It’s happening nightly now, and I wake up so ashamed every morning.

Please don’t hate on me, I’m hating on myself enough already.

Why can I just not get it together, already?! Just be normalsauce for ONE WHOLE DAY….

The little threads of sanity keeping me together are woven of words. Lots of words. Words on this blog. Words in letters and messages to friends. Words – communication – is my saving grace. I had to go through every trial in life alone for a very long time, and I’ve no desire to do this alone. I’ve gotten accustomed to sharing E.S.H. with others.

Isolation is doom for me. But isolation is 100% my default when protecting my secrets. And little thoughts of “It’s no big deal” keep me sick.

Christians can – and do – struggle with the same issues as everyone else on the planet. None of us are immune, and that’s the truth. I wish more people were honest about that. It doesn’t draw anyone to Christ to be ‘perfect’….and I’m surely in no danger of being that.

But I cannot imagine going through this, or anything else, without Jesus by my side. I can feel Him close, even in every storm.

So, yeah. Accountability…..

Hoarding food. Bingeing. Sometimes (only occasionally) barfing as a result. Skipping meals until I’m starving and shaking. Wait until I cannot take it anymore (you know, until I’ve punished myself adequately for the last binge) and repeat the cycle. And throughout the entire cycle, it makes me feel good for about 10 minutes, tops. I feel OK for those 10 minutes and somehow, in my addicted brain, that justifies the whole shebang.

I’m not a stranger to eating disorders. I starved myself down to a tiny weight once because I had zero control over ANYTHING going on in my life at the time, and I could control that, by damn. Except that I clearly could not survive on cigarettes and Diet Coke and any sane person should know that.

I’ve managed to stay sober, and I’m leaning into God. But I’m not in a terrific place right now. Since I blog largely about addiction recovery, I thought it important to share this predicament. I cannot write about sobriety and go sit in my closet and eat my feelings for half an hour until I’m sick. That’s not okay.

I want a good, quality, solid, honest recovery.

I want to be OK. I want to be authentically me as God intended, able to lift others up.

I don’t even just want to be OK. I want to leave this world a better place than when I was first granted this earth-suit and put on mission Earth. I want to love people and be whole, in essence.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the same triggers that set me off drinking are setting me off with this battle. I’m not sure how to do this. Alcohol, you can stay away from that entirely. Food….it’s kind of a necessity.

It’s so much easier not to write about this issue, to just keep it in the closet (literally). But it’s too easy to keep the game going that way.

So, hello.
My name is Jana and I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with food issues. And a plethora of other assorted challenges. I’ve been sober from alcohol for nearly 15 years, one day at a time, all glory to God.

Here are some words.

I’m putting them out there in the universe for the selfish reason that it is therapy for me to share my struggles, and for the self-less reason that I don’t want you to feel alone if you are going through something similar.

God bless us, everyone.

Crouching Dragon, Hidden Feelings – Binge eating and temporary comfort

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By: Jana Greene

There is something so humbling about attending a 12-Step meeting, thinking “Whew! I’m glad I’m not THAT crazy person anymore!” and then waking up to walk on a carpet of pork rinds in your own bedroom. It kind of really drives things home.

I haven’t had a drink in nearly 15 years. As an alcoholic, I cannot afford to have even one.

That’s the truth about my drinking.

The truth about my ‘everything else?’ Its a little more complicated. I’ve heard it said that recovery is like peeling an onion – you address one issue and another is exposed. It’s so true.

Like this morning. I stepped out of bed, and into a pile of miscellaneous crumbs. They are miscellaneous because I parked out in bed last night (after a day battling chronic illness and a plethora of other minutia) I decided to binge on potato chips, pork rinds (pork rinds!) AND pickles, mindlessly, like a glassy-eyed Cookie Monster. Oh, wait. There WERE cookies involved too. I get so INTO food sometimes that I forget to taste it, and tasting it was not the priority anyway.

Eating my feelings was the priority. I am still – after all these years of NOT drinking – learning what to DO with all of these FEELINGS. There are so many of them, all the time.

The evidence of a ‘morning after’ eating binge can be just as distressing as a morning after alcohol binge. You wake up with that ‘what did I do last night?’ introductory thought, followed by deep shame and guilt when you remember (IF you remember, because sometimes I get so into it, I don’t even.)

I did not take into account last night that I was not actually really hungry, or that I would wake up the next day bloated and angry at myself.

No, because that isn’t how this thing works. You do not think ahead.

You are only thinking …

“I feel bad. I want to feel better. What will make me feel better RIGHT NOW?

That’s kind of a summary of ALL ADDICTION, even in it’s most seemingly-innocent forms: I MUST feel better right NOW.

One cup of coffee? What is the POINT? Three gets the blood pumping.

Nothing wrong with a sleeping pill on occasion. But I have a high tolerance, you see. It takes more for me. And more than occasionally.

Exercise? No, thank you. UNLESS I work out far past exhaustion, and only in rare spurts.

All or nothing. No moderation. One of anything is insufficient…..candies, hugs, books, cups of coffee, cats. One is too many and a thousand not enough, as they say.

It is a miracle that I’ve not had a drink and I love knowing that sobriety is a real, actual thing…that God can enable ANY of us to live. I have not had a drink in 15 years, but the beast is only debilitated.

My alcoholism recovery is not a means to an end, in and of itself. I’ve de-clawed a Komodo Dragon, in a manner of speaking. Have you ever seen a nature documentary featuring one of those giant lizards? They have razor-sharp claws that can shred an animal bigger than itself in one swipe. They have super-sharp teeth, too. And the worse thing is that their spit is toxic as hell and if the bite doesn’t take you down, they wait patiently for the poison spit to infect and fell you.

So, in this glorious recovery from alcoholism, I’ve de-clawed the dragon. But I have to stay on guard. It has more than one destructive mechanism. It is always poised to pounce.

There is so much work to be done on my inside. The parts that demand instant gratification, while complaining it ‘takes too long’ (as the great Carrie Fisher – herself a recovering addict – has noted.) I want to feel better RIGHT NOW.

That’s not how this thing works.

I’m still that ‘crazy person’ and that’s the truth about me. But I now know that I don’t want to be the feeling-stuffer / eater / drowner / deny-er.) I cannot afford to keep doing that. If I do, the alcoholism is just waiting to infect and fell me.

I want to actually taste life, and think ahead. Look forward. I need to continue to learn how to be kind to myself and gentle with all of my parts. And to heck with what anyone else thinks.

You cannot please everyone and get well at the same time, of this I am sure.

That’s why I’m sharing this today, because you are only as sick as your secrets, and I’m ready to slay that damn dragon.

Here’s what the Bible has to say (insert Lion instead of Dragon, and this is actually kind of scriptural, even!)

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” 1 Peter 5-8 (MSG)