After a few more days of observation, I don’t believe the rapid heart rate and chest pressure I experience in the mornings is completely related to low blood sugar. I’m pretty sure that waking crystal clear –instead of lumbering out of bed in a fog and robotically and sluggishly beginning my morning mom duties– is allowing the previously dulled anxiety to really surface. The Whole30 book doesn’t have an entry in the index for “anxiety”. I’m shocked. I can’t be the only one out of hundreds of thousands who after removing sugar, alcohol and caffeine (and comforting grains and dairy) experiences unease of this sort.
The seemingly increased anxiety may not only be due to the removal of consumable anxiety maskers, but also to the added pressure of the program’s rules and the addition of my attempt to publicly share my experience in a way that is both honest and self-preserving. Which leads me to a confession. I must come clean about the effect TJ’s decision to go on a golf trip had on my spirits. It crushed me. Broke my heart. I so wanted this to be our thing. I wanted to experience 30 days of sobriety with him. I wanted to approach the essence of our relationship without the haze of booze and distraction. I wanted to work through the discomfort together and I wanted to get raw and go deep. And I held onto some hope that he would try to stay on the program even when indulging in the luxury of a trip that began and ended in a private-jet. This has not been the case. (To his defense, I don’t believe I ever actually stated all this out loud, using my voice. I am making a mental note to self.)
So I’ve removed the security blanket of food and drink. I’ve been shed of the security of a team-like approach with my partner, and I’m left with myself. Here I am, and here is my pounding heart. This exposure is both terrifying and exciting. Thank god I’ve got a few tools in the toolbox. For instance, yesterday I was on my cushion three times before making it out the door at 9:00 a.m; I’ve still got a few friends on the program; I’m using calming essential oils to help me ground and step back in the moment; I’m also currently listening to the book, 10% Happier, by the news reporter Dan Harris. This is his very open and hilarious account of discovering mindful meditation after having a panic attack on national television. Coincidentally, I recently listened to the part where he uses the RAIN method to mindfully deal with his anxiety. This is a great reminder to practice this technique in my own life, and his version is so comedic that it helps me take myself a little less seriously.
Here’s the scoop:
Recognize that a strong emotion is occurring; turn toward it in a gentle and non-judgmental way. Name it. Naming it almost immediately lowers anxiety and creates space.
Allow whatever is happening to be just as it is; don’t suppress, push away or ignore, as fighting with it creates more tension.
Investigate the inner experience. What’s happening in my body? What may be causing it? What do I really need right now?
Non-identify. Acknowledge that I am not my emotions. Nor am I my thoughts. They come and go. I am that which is aware of my thoughts and emotions.
I’ve been working with this technique the last couple days, and I sort of feel like my anxiety is my little companion. It’s with me, beside me, coursing through me, but it’s not me. It’s like I’m making room for it on the couch. I feel I’m gaining some separation and unearthing some space.
At this point I’m fairly certain I’ll make to the end of thirty days, but I do hope I feel more joy and ease. I miss chocolate covered almonds and lunches out with friends where I eat what I order, not cutting off the ends of tuna that I didn’t realize was going to be panko fried and picking dry salad leaves out among veggies that seem to have been marinating in soy and sugar. (I admit having stepped off the plan to make these salad discoveries).
As I revisit my fears and intentions I see that many of both have manifested.
While acne and clothing imprints on my skin has lessened, the eczema and dry skin is the same. I am sleeping well and waking alert and ready to go, but within minutes I am anxious. I am surviving without my comfort foods, but I don’t exactly feel comfort. My clothes fit great, my tummy is flat and I feel lean and strong, but I expend a crazy amount of energy prepping, planning and thinking about food.
Am I learning?
Am I more mindful?