I Don’t…Understand.

I’m not going to sleep much tonight so I might as well write. The world lost an amazing woman yesterday to a drug overdose. A woman I didn’t know well but knew well enough that just the mention of her name would bring a smile to my face. I knew her to be saucy, stunningly beautiful with a huge smile and deep chocolate eyes, fun to be around, full of life, and full of light.

The first hint I caught that she might be gone was earlier today when I noticed a friend’s post on her Facebook wall. It said, “You are in my heart. You were so brave. I’m so sorry. God damn that monster.” And I’m thinking, “Huh, wonder what that means.” So I keep reading. Another post says, “i love you and i’m proud of you. i miss you so much already.” “Okay,” I think, “now we’re getting somewhere. She did something brave (as mentioned in previous post), for which this friend is proud of her. Maybe she moved across the country for graduate school like she’d mentioned wanting to do.” The next post I saw said lots of words and then, “I’m sad to hear about your passing. I was blessed to have known you.”

So do you know what I did? I got onto Google and I typed in her name and was relieved to see that only the recent(ish) passing of her grandfather was coming up in my search. “If Google doesn’t know about it, it hasn’t happened. People are always doing effed up stuff on Facebook as jokes. I’m just missing a bit of information. I’ll check it out further tonight.” And then I put it out of my mind.

Wow, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt! Which part of “I’m sad to hear about your passing” did I NOT comprehend? And yet, why WOULD I comprehend that? I’m thankful that my denial superpower protected me as long as it could—it did a great job. In hindsight I realize that it even diverted me from seeing the post written by the woman’s sister stating very clearly the very thing I was not allowing myself to think could be true. Then about an hour ago I saw a close friend’s post about it and the denial could no longer hold (the post was not cryptic and it was now information from the mouth of someone I would trust with my life).

I’m not a fan of comparing suffering or struggle or demons. We all have these things and to each of us, regardless of the appearance to the outside world, our demons are all probably pretty freaking scary. The prickly that’s been up for me lately is food addiction, especially to sugar and gluten. Despite having been off them during two months on Whole30, once I started reintroducing foods and was no longer relying on the firm structure of the rules to protect me, I slid quickly down the slippery slope. I slid so far that I’d even returned (for three days) to drinking soda and eating candy.

I was at a party this past weekend eating Red Vines like they might be the last to exist on Earth. I was surrounded by friends, bingeing in plain sight, and I was thinking, “Wow, if my addiction were to drugs and I were relapsing right now in front of all of them, they would have something to say about it. There would be an intervention.” But I was eating RED VINES. Totally fine, totally acceptable. Only not fine.

I had become so clean during the Whole30 that one week of intensely inappropriate consumption of sugar and gluten made me lose life force. It made me sad. It re-inflated the tube around my midsection. My posture slumped. I felt like a failure. I started wearing my biggest clothes again. I wanted to be invisible. The skin on my face broke out. My urine smelled sickly sweet. My mind could think of nothing but sugar. And I felt momentarily hopeless.

I’m thankful my addiction is to food. Relapsing won’t kill me instantly. An accidental overdose will only leave me with a food and shame hangover. I will have many more chances to make healthier choices. I might need to keep learning the same lesson over and over before it really sticks—BUT I WILL HAVE THAT OPPORTUNITY. And for that I am grateful.

And for the bright light that my beautiful friend shined every time I saw her, I will continue to be grateful. Shine on, my friend. You are dearly missed.


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