Several days ago, my roommate and I decided to do a cleanse. I’ve been feeling pretty crappy. My job and school was causing me a lot of stress. Which was causing me to eat things that my body can’t handle. I was undoing a lot of healthy habits and just feeling like I needed a major intervention. I told my roommate I wanted to do a bland diet–sort of like the one I did a few months ago when I had a horrible stomach flu. I noticed I felt a lot better, afterwards, and–since I was struggling so much with cutting sugar, soda, gluten, and dairy, I thought it’d give me the chance to make a clean break.
A few weeks ago, my new naturopath diagnosed me with some food allergies and sensitivities: dairy, gluten, refined sugar, eggs, and tomatoes. She strongly recommended a Paleo diet for me. Now, I’ve struggled with the food thing for a long, long time. All of my comfort foods–all my nostalgic foods–are all the things that make me sick. I absolutely hated the idea of giving them up, but I knew enough was enough. My body was being attacked every single day. I couldn’t keep going like this. Relying on sodas to keep me going wasn’t going to keep me healthy or happy.
When I told my roomie about my bland plan, he mentioned a local juicery and maybe we should look at their cleanses. Because of my gall bladder surgery stuff, I was actually kind of terrified to do a full-on cleanse. I mean, I’ve backslid progress-wise when it came to my post-gb body, but it was tolerable. It took me a long time to get out of the intolerable part. So, I wasn’t eager to go back to it. Plus, I’m just damn busy and need my brain to function. I can’t have a crappy attitude /grump-at-the-world day with the work I do. I’m exhausted while eating food–so how would I deal with just juice?
I mean, I’d done cleanses before. The horrible lemon water, prune juice nightmares that meant I’d never leave the house. I lost weight and felt bad again within a week. Would it even be worth it?
So, while my roomie decided to do the full-on cleanse–I decided to modify it…allowing myself some rice along with said juices. Unfortunately, the day before said cleanse, I got super-sick with what was definitely food poisoning. As much as I wanted to tough it out, my bile reflux was requiring me to eat more than just juice…or even juice and rice. Needless to say, it seriously complicated things. I ended up feeling really, really bad. So, I decided that–to get the reflux under control–I’d allow myself to eat some meat and veggies with my rice and juice. So, essentially, in addition to the juice, I ate the way I’m supposed to! I still considered it a cleanse since I was eating pretty barebones and stayed away from everything I’m supposed to.
My roomie did really well on the cleanse, and I did well on my modified cleanse. I had way more energy. I slept better. I had less allergy symptoms. My skin cleared up. My persistently getting worse tummy problems started healing. The foggy feeling I always have went away. I didn’t have any sugar cravings; I didn’t want dairy–not even cheese. I gave up my nemesis soda like the bad habit it is without any problems. By the end of the week, the roomie and I decided to go another week. Only this time, my confidence buoyed, I decided to try the full-on cleanse…making no promises. I had modified supplies at the ready.
The first day, I was mostly just tired. I also noticed I was in a much better mood than normal–more even. Bad things didn’t upset me so much. My happy self came out more readily. It was way easier to access joy. Some of the juices (ahem, chlorophyll) were hard to drink–but most were great. My body seemed to adjust right away. So much so that drinking the final drink of the day–almond milk (so delicious)–was hard on me. That night was super-rough, though, and I had some weird problems (probably not cleanse related) that made me cave and eat rice the following morning so I could take medicine to deal with it. By 10 am, I was back to juice and have not looked back.
It’s been actually really good. I feel a lot calmer. I’m much more aware of my body and what it needs. I do feel light-headed if I walk more than around the apartment. But I have lots of energy and don’t feel like I’m struggling against food addictions.
I actually feel like I can give up all the things I need to. I’ve made a conscious choice to cut soda out of my life for at least 3 mos…and then I’ll only have 1 every once in a while (if that)–and it better be the best damn soda ever. I’m even okay with cheese going bye. I’ve decided to have a 1x/week “cheat day” where I can eat the best quality of whatever I want–but I don’t feel like I’ll really go crazy. The majority of the time, I’ll be doing veggies and protein with a fresh green juice.
The cleanse has probably been most beneficial in how it’s changed how I deal with my thoughts and emotions. In the Untethered Soul, Michael Singer talks about the idea that there’s a sacred part of you–that’s the actual you–that isn’t your thoughts or your emotions. That separate part of you is peaceful and basically just observes. It’s in control and isn’t controlled by all the stuff happening in this crazy world.
I remember reading that and feeling like it was beyond me. My existence was all about chasing emotions and overthinking. I could not separate these things! I have struggled all my life to do this. I used to look at people who meditated with so much respect. Clearly, I was just not cut out for this shit.
Oddly, I found myself doing that with this cleanse–almost immediately. When things got hard, and my belly was talking to me–I found that I did separate (exactly!). I realized that this calm part of myself wasn’t part of all those crazy thoughts and feelings. As much as that part of me wanted to convince me it was. Normally, those thoughts and feelings would trigger spontaneous decisions to do things that dishonored me…like ordering pizza after I decided to avoid such things–mostly because I knew I’d be seriously ill if I ate it. This time, I just drank more water, took a breath, and waited. Within five minutes, the feeling would pass. I’d feel fine. This kept happening, over and over.
Yesterday, I had a hard day. I woke up pissed and everything was going wrong/being annoying. The first part of the day, I truly grumped at everything–feeling more grumpy for being grumpy. And then, there was a turning point. I found myself acknowledging the feeling, but not giving into it or being controlled by it. I just waited and gave myself permission to be a bitch (within reason). When I did that, I could laugh at myself.
It’s been so much easier to practice self-care (truly hard for me, normally). I don’t forget myself anymore. I might get behind, but I’m on the list.
I’ve also been able to sort of apply this wisdom to my relationship boundaries. I used to be a very passive aggressive person, and I’ve made conscious efforts to change that. There are still a lot of people in my life who are like I was, and they assume I still am like them. When I don’t do what they want or need–because it’s not what I want or need–they get angry and act passive-aggressively toward me. This usually drives me crazy. But I’ve been able to handle it–even yesterday–when I was so mad at everything. I just sort of acknowledged the situation. I realized, “Oh, I’ve outgrown that person.” That’s why we’ve been distant. Unfortunately, their haste to hold on to the situation and inability to see me as I am now–to know me now–has made the chasm grow deeper. But they just aren’t ready. They aren’t walking the same path. They’re still back there. They’re trying to keep me back there, so they don’t lose me. But I’m already lost…and not lost.
The thing is–I’m only responsible for my own happiness. With my friends, I just want their happiness. I used to be someone who didn’t want that. I wanted my happiness, and I wanted people to stay–at all costs. So, I’d manipulate and force things so that those things would stay the same. That’s a dictatorship–not a relationship. Healthy relationships should support happiness–for everyone–and that means evolving. Once that clicked, I realized…if we’re good for each other…if I need this person in my life, our paths will cross. I can trust myself. I can trust that person. I can trust that the Universe is loving and kind. I can trust and believe that I don’t have to do anything to get what I need as long as I stay true to my own happiness.
That means that–I acknowledge that we’re different now. I acknowledge that our relationship isn’t what it was. I am able to enforce my boundary of needing people who call themselves friends to be in my life–really in it–and not just pretending or pulling me along/being pulled along. Stay or go–it’s alright. It doesn’t mean goodbye. I doesn’t mean shame or guilt or fixing. It does mean living my life on my terms only for me and loving the people who are able to keep me company, whenever they are able to do so.
It makes it a lot easier. And damn–it’s actually simple. So simple. Why the Hell did it take me this long to really really get it?