On fruit, men and abstinence

Feeling fruity

Stop the press! 

For it appears that FF (food free) is the new AF (alcohol free)! 

Well, not quite FF, but close enough. 

Let me explain:

I have a group of dear friends with whom we like to play what’s known as the ‘Did you Know’ game, the premise of which is pretty clear from its title. 

Possibly one of the most famous of those Did you Knows (DYKs) was “Did you know that the avocado is the only food that man can survive on solely for the rest of his life?” 

These DYKs are usually discussed at length as well as analysed for accuracy, and, as was in the case of the avocado DYK, often rebutted pretty speedily. 

Enter in to the picture an energy workshop that I attended over the weekend where I encounter an attendee whom I shall name ‘Fruitman’. 

Over a glass of sparking water (for him) and a chicken salad (for me) I learn that Fruitman has for the past three years lived on nothing but one or two pieces of fruit every day. Fine, it’s not quite the same as living on smashed avocado alone (without the requisite poached eggs and lightly toasted rye bread made famous by West London mummies), but in the interest of aforementioned DYK game, he’s come deliciously close to proving the validity of said statement. 

Had it been the first time I’d heard of somebody living off not much more than thin air, I would have responded with a stronger version of “naff off”, but, only a few months back I researched the phenomenon and came across examples of many men and women who seemed to have survived on nothing but water for decades. 

Before anybody sends the men in white coats to get me: do not worry. I am not about to give up my 1500 calories a day for the ‘dust’ offered on Little Britain quite yet. However, the encounter did strengthen in me the belief that almost anything can be achieved using the power of the mind. 

For many toying with the idea of a break from alcohol, for example, abstinence can seem a worse destiny than plying one’s nails off one by one whilst walking on a tightrope. “But I like the taste of it.” “But it helps me relax in social situations.” “But it really helps me sleep.” being some of the more popular things we tell ourselves in order not to attempt the challenge at all, or, in order to allow ourselves to break our resolve a third of the way through it. 

The truth is, our subconscious mind is happy to go with whatever stance we want to conjure up. It is up to us to tell our subconscious what to believe. 

Whilst I’m not seeking to go in to a debate as to the validity of Fruitman’s claims, my own experience shows that it is possible to change ones inner world and beliefs and to do so at a rapid pace. 

In fact possibly a less popular decision than going alcohol free was my decision to couple this with going sugar free. 

“You must be nuts!” “No, but I do eat a lot of them.”

For a very long time I had been feeling out of balance. Despite being a relatively sporty person with mostly healthy eating habits I was exhausted every single day of my life. And this was also paradoxically one of the things that drove me to drink more. Sobriety finally gave me the opportunity to really get my body in order. I, like many people who drink a lot, really struggled with candida, probably for decades. Candida affects the joints, sleep and digestion, and it gives you that fuzzy brain, amongst a long list of other less than desirable ailments. Candida loves sugar and yeast which is why it’s such a keen bedfellow to those who like to quench their thirst with heavier stuff than tap water. 

Let me tell you ladies and gents: in a battle between Alcohol in one corner and Sugar in the other, it was Sugar that knocked the most brutal of punches. In the past when taking a break from alcohol I have been downing copious shots of tequila in my dreams. This time I dreamt of swallowing a gerbil sized piece of cake in one, and I could actually taste the toffee sauce in my mouth, heavenly, still slightly warm in all its gooey sugary glory, only to wake up in a slight panic that I had broken my resolve. Unlike alcohol that I would typically have to actively seek out, sugar was right there, in pretty much every bit of food and drink I used to consume on a daily basis. 

There is no denying it. It was a headf***. 

Of course alcohol itself is laden with packs of sugar, which is why so many who attempt dry January and the like end up polishing off their entire Christmas candy collection in minutes desperately looking for that familiar sugar rush, and are then left wondering why they don’t feel any better even though they’ve quit the drink. Cue: getting back on the booze, “this ain’t working…”

My desire to rid my body of this unwanted intruder (Candida) was one of the bigger burning yeses that helped me walk past countless sweet counters and even to say no to the moistest chocolate cake to ever have graced this earth, as served at my son’s birthday party in December. 

Considering the steps it took for me to choose AF life when I did, it’s interesting to think whether an earlier meeting with Fruitman years or decades ago could have changed the direction of my life. Whether his dedication would have rubbed off on me, inspired me, sparked something in me. One thing is for sure, today it’s most certainly given me food for thought (if not for much else), and I hope it will do so for you too.

Friday’s post will be about the Random Acts of Kindness Day taking place on the coming Sunday (17th February 2019). Perhaps it’s the single gal in me but I feel this day needs far more promotion than its much more famous cousin, Valentine’s Day, and I look forward to penning a few lines about it. 

’til then, look after yourselves and your loved ones. 

Big AF love,

Monika x

Hopping into the unknown

Making sweet music

A couple of months into sobriety I was reading my son a bedtime story. It was Aesop’s fable about the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper plays music and prances around all summer, whilst the ant diligently collects food for the coming winter. The grasshopper can’t understand why the ant doesn’t find the time for play. 

Then winter comes along and the grasshopper finds itself cold and lonely and without food and shelter. Through the snow it wades to the ant’s house. The ant reminds the grasshopper of all the times it frolicked around without a care in the world. Then it opens the door to let the grasshopper in, very gallantly also sharing its food reserves with him. The next summer the grasshopper has learned its lesson. It knows that in order to survive it must take time to work as well as play. My son (who loves nothing more than to play and loves to treat me like his private concierge service) loves this story and can recite it word for word. 

For many years I’ve held a small grasshopper statue on my desk. I bought it from a market in Bilbao, an hour after a real life encounter with a grasshopper. At the time I was going through some difficulties and needed the strength to make some big changes to my life. When the grasshopper appeared under rather odd circumstances and the statue found me right after, I couldn’t help but find out more about grasshoppers and their symbolism. I found out the following: 

Grasshoppers are thought to appear when you need to take a leap of faith. They are the symbol for your inner voice, telling you to trust it. Normally they appear during a huge transformational process. 

And so it proved to be on that occasion too.

Despite realising that this will come across as spiritual mumbo jumbo to many, it was then that I chose the grasshopper to be my spirit animal. Or, more likely, the grasshopper chose me. 

And it is thus that my blog proudly carries the grasshopper as its figurehead. 

At the time of publishing I have reached 138 days of freedom from alcohol. It all started one Sunday morning at the end of September 2018, when at 9 am I found myself listening to the birds and staring at the debris of the night before. A recently refilled glass of vodka lime and soda was challenging me to take a sip when a clarity of biblical proportions (sans locusts) came over me. In that moment I knew I would never drink again. I wasn’t in prison. I hadn’t totalled my car. In fact the worst thing that had happened that night was that we had dropped by a club where the oldest person apart from my friend and I was barely half our age. On hindsight perhaps this coming face to face with ones mortality DID have more to do with it than my id would like to admit. 

True to my style I kamikaze’d in to my new AF life, sharing my life changing news with everybody and their dog. What I didn’t expect was that this decision to go sober would be met with a cavalcade of responses ranging from disbelief (“You’ll be back on the sauce in no time!”) to discouragement (“It’s just too extreme!”) to detachment (“Well, I’m not seeing you until you’re drinking again!”) to the, frankly, rare offers of support. In response I wanted to stand on the rooftops and shout out: “Did you know that there is an option to getting drunk all the time? Have you heard about this thing called sobriety? It’s freakin’ awesome!”

And that brings me to the name of my blog: Recklessly Sober. 

After decades of living recklessly it felt apt to approach sobriety in the same instinctive manner: that is, as the name suggests, without giving much thought to how my sobriety may affect the bystander. And by that I mean that I refuse to tone down just how much my life has changed for the positive, how much better I feel in myself, just because the person I am with still likes a tipple or nine. That rather than giving up something I have gained a world full of real emotions and experiences. That although I in no way regret the times that I have had, knee deep in those booze soaked fields, I am never going to deny that I now prefer watching my friends from the duckboards where my clothes stay dry and I can’t get sucked in to quicksand. Whether you wish to join me on dry land is your choice, but I can tell you things look a lot clearer from here. 

Has it come easily? 

Gosh, no. 

As a taster consider this little snippet: sixteen days in to sobriety I stood in the middle of a restaurant, sobbing. It was a Tuesday and I was on a date. Only a second date at that. 

I knew I would never drink again, and I sobbed for the loss. It was like the burial of a good friend, right there in the middle of that restaurant. 

I had to leave. And although I saw the chap again, the experience was forever tainted with those tears.

But more about dating when sober in future posts. 

For now know this: the grasshopper still knows how to play sweet music, even when it knows that it has to do some work.