I wrote a blog post, many years ago, called “You can have my milk when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers” in which I ranted about how I was never gonna quit milk because soy lattes are gross. I can’t even imagine drinking milk now. Funny thing, time.
I can’t quit sugar. And when I say that, I want you to know I’ve never actually tried. Not seriously. I quit gluten because every day felt like dying. I know that sounds melodramatic, and it is, but only a little. All food hurt me. My brain was fuzzy, and I couldn’t focus on anything. I was depressed–and I know from depression–and nauseous. I had a headache a hundred percent of the time.
Cutting out gluten was crazy-difficult. My favorite food was sandwiches. And I lived on pasta when I couldn’t afford my crummy sandwich meat (and Kraft singles). (Pasta with no sauce; couldn’t afford that, either. My roommate and I used to make pasta in a crummy rental in Portland, Oregon, standing around the boiling water with our hands out to keep warm, then throw margarine and salt over it and call it dinner. And lunch. And save the leftovers for breakfast. No wonder I was halfway dead!)
Gluten was horrible. Endless. I screwed up my no gluten diet for ages. I think it probably took at least a month before I even made it through a day without accidentally glutening myself. And I’d know it immediately, because my head would start pounding and I wouldn’t be able to think in a straight line, and the hangover would last for a day or two.
Right now, man? Right now shit is dire. My kid’s three. If you’ve got a three year old–and especially if you decided to have that kid by yourself–you don’t get to be the moody one. Three year olds have no power, no say, and the only thing they can do in response to something they don’t like is scream and hit. I’m just sayin’–she’s got my sympathy. She’s articulate right up until she’s upset, but then she loses her words and we’re both totally fucked.
I’m not complaining. This is the job. And I like it. I like watching her work her shit out. I like watching her brain make sense of the world, even when the world doesn’t make sense. Like yesterday, when we were going to buy candy corn and I accidentally put it down somewhere in the store. A few hours later she was like, “Where’s our candy corn?” So today, when we went back to buy candy corn, she didn’t let me hold it. Cause, you know, I’m not responsible enough. True story.
Ah, candy corn. I eat candy corn in handfuls and I don’t even think I like it. M&Ms used to be my fucking daily crutch, my addiction, the thing I fantasized about all day freaking long at work. I bought three pound bags and burned through them. (Did I gain weight? Don’t know. But I’ve never been a huge eater and that was when the gluten was making me sick but I didn’t know it yet, so M&Ms were safe. Except for the cravings.) I don’t even really like M&Ms any more, and yet I keep buying them, to mix with cashews for breakfast.
But I’m sick. And tired. And fucked in the head. Man, the voices I hear when I’m down? (No, not literal voices. They’re all my voice, they’re just meaner, or perhaps less censored.) I keep looking at my kid, thinking she deserves better, thinking everyone would be better off without me. (And no, dude, I don’t need reassurances; this is the well-worn path my suicidal depression has taken since I was twelve years old. There is very little left sharp about this particular edge, but the dull blade will grind you down pretty fucking well, too.)
Coffee makes me happy, in a sense that is no doubt partially physical (that was seriously bad withdrawals, yo), but also psychological. There’s no down side. I have a cup and a half a day, to be completely finished before two p.m. The end. But candy? I don’t even think it makes me happy, except for the moment it’s in my mouth. It’s not flavor, it’s sugar. No doubt. I freak the fuck out when I don’t have it. I will drive to the store just for M&Ms, and I try to only leave my house a handful of times a month, because I fucking hate going out.
It’s not a coincidence this is hitting me now. When I’m writing this hard, I don’t have brain power left for cravings. Food isn’t in my world. (Thank goodness I rarely drink soda. When I was a very young writer, thirteen-fourteen, I lived on cans of frosting and huge baseball-game-beer-cups of Coke and ice. You know what’s a recipe for success as a little gender-fucked kid going through puberty? Gaining a ton of weight in all the areas of your body you hate the most. Didn’t get stretch marks from pregnancy; got all my stretch marks from puberty.)
I don’t know. I’m not going anywhere with this, but blogging has served me in the past as a place where I put the thoughts that are poison to keep in my head. (All writing serves this need; Hugh’s speech in The New Born Year, for example, fucked me up real good for a few hours, because oh my god, subconscious, could you at least hide shit a little bit better? Thanks, appreciate it.)
I think the problem is I like suffering a little too much. Or, I find myself at home within it.
But my kid deserves better, and this, right here, can be the power of parenthood. The transformative power of parenthood in those who want to be transformed. I do things for her–like make food–that I would never do for myself. I can keep a lot of the darkest parts of my mind quiet (hello, Breaking Down and portions of Take Three Breaths, and you’re welcome), but I gotta be whole if I want her to grow up whole, so I force myself to survive better than I used to. And fuck me, it works. I have prepared food in my refrigerator right now. Food I had to, like, bake. This is a cosmic joke, this thing where the picky kid has the foodie offspring.
In closing, please allow me to say this: I really gotta quit sugar. At least, I’m sure as shit gonna kick the candy habit for a bit. It should be so easy to just stop buying it, but fuck, it calls to me. It calls to me…