Sweet Realizations / by Dana Bergstrom

Three months off of Diet Coke has resulted in some epiphanies.

The first thing I noticed was that Diet Coke was the main player in a 30-year-long cover-up for another addiction.

A soda craving would arise and I'd suddenly find myself in the grocery store parking lot with a giant cinnamon roll in my mouth. 

This happened several times in the same parking lot with glazed donuts, caramel rolls, and chocolate chip cookies before I was like, Awww, crap...I'm addicted to sugar. 

But now that I'm off Diet Coke and I'm occasionally able to manage my sugar intake, I'm having more unpleasant, repressed memories rise to the surface. 

And those memories come with extremely strong feelings of being trapped and hopeless. I mean, they are fucking brutal. 

Some days I feel so suffocated and overwhelmed, I honestly don't think I'm gonna make it through the day. And thanks to the many human angels in my life, I do. 

I quit Diet Coke purely for physical health reasons; I had no idea that it and sugar were acting as numbing, protective drugs to keep me from remembering and dealing with painful experiences. Oh boy, were they effective.

So, recently, my therapist suggested that I watch some YouTube videos of trauma expert, Dr Peter Levine. His technique is called Somatic Experiencing and it's based on the idea that, like animals, we have three responses to threat - fight, flight, and freeze - and when those responses get interrupted, which they often do in humans, the energy gets stuck in the body and continues to have an effect.

Trauma is very common. I do think that we all respond to it a bit differently. But the point of it is to heal from those experiences so they don't define and rule your life, right?

Right.

Anyway, I tried to watch the videos a while ago but I got too triggered and anxious and couldn't make it through them.

So, yesterday, while remodeling the garage, I was having a heckuva time with Diet Coke and sugar cravings. And since I have a sense that my food addiction has something to do with trauma, I decided to attempt the videos again. 

One of the first things I learned from Dr. Levine is a hold on the body when uncomfortable feelings, like cravings, arise. You place your right hand under your left armpit and then take your left hand and hold your right arm muscles between the elbow and the shoulder which, interestingly, is exactly like the type of Jin Shin Jyutsu holds that Pauly practices and teaches and I usually forget to do. 

Anyway, you hold this pose until you feel your energy settle down or shift. Dr. Levine explained that this allows you to feel the boundaries of your physical body. You feel the boundary of your thorax and also the outside of the body. And this is important to do because unresolved trauma creates holes in your boundaries. 

Makes sense, eh? A boundary, whether physical or psychological, gets crossed in trauma and unless that boundary is resolved, a gap remains. 

Well, I did that and then last night I had a dream. The disturbing dream was about my early environment and its unhealthy boundaries.

And I woke up today realizing that I am 100% accustomed to having my energy leak out in all kinds of directions.

I mean, I have loads of behaviors, besides food related ones, that suck my energy. And I do these things because this is what feels "normal" and "loving" to me. 

Holy crap, this is gonna mean some real change. 

What kind of change? 

Oh boy, I'm writing this now and all I can think about is cinnamon rolls, donuts, caramel rolls, cookies, pancakes, French toast...oh boy oh boy oh boy. Let's try that hold again, shall we?

Okay...

I did the hold. 

It took about five minutes but it worked. 

I'm settled back in and am able to write without visions of sweets dancing in my head. 

So, let's just end this here for now. I'm gonna ponder my energy sucking habits and see what changes I could introduce. 

It's all about being gentle. 

I know intellectually that I am whole and loved and loving. And I've had many mystical experiences which have shown me that, but I don't think my animal body knows it yet. 

So, I'm gonna see what I can do to let it know that it's safe to maintain its very own energy. 

More on that later, loves. Yep, yep. We're all on this being human journey together, aren't we? Helping each other out as we go along. 

Every single day we get to experience and learn something new. 

And even though sometimes it's really hard, I'm glad I get another day to do just that.