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The Dark Side of Trying To Get Your Physical and Emotional Shit Together


Yesterday, I was supposed to work a lot during the day and drive downtown in the evening to learn the steps for a tap dance flash mob. Neither of these things happened. Because the cleanse broke me. Instead, I fell to dramatic, sobbing pieces during the day and then had to miss the flash mob to make sure the dog didn't die. * * The dog is not dead. The dog is not to be trusted within a paw's distance of a bottle of pills ever again, but the dog is not dead.

When you do a cleanse, the books warn you about emotional detox. It's normal, don't be alarmed, the world isn't ending. Basically, they're saying that your reward for eating like a healthy person is to cry a lot. Really? I feel betrayed by this system. And unless the authors of these books are prepared to come to my house at 3 a.m. to give me a hug, they just shouldn't be so perky about the world not ending. **

** The world didn't end. The Mayan Calendar didn't kick in because I bought this off Amazon.

But the cleanse did steal all my caps and exclamation points. I just didn't have the heart to move my pinky to the shift key and that was oddly disconcerting.

It also kept me awake until four in the morning. It's really dark at four in the morning. That's not even meant to be all deep and symbolic. It's just...really black.

4 a.m. 

See? Dark.

The first couple of weeks on this cleanse, I felt amazing. Energetic and creative. Like I'd pulled my ass kicking boots out of storage and they still fit. Then something set me off yesterday and suddenly I was drowning in grief. A lot of grief. Waves and waves of grief. That didn't let up for hours.

I realized yesterday that I've been actively avoiding grief for years. I don't let myself properly mourn - not deaths or breakups or passing phases of life.


All I can say about yesterday's unexpected Grief 101 is "Man, this suuuuucks." No wonder I avoided feeling that way for years.

Emotional detox is kind of like cleaning the drain in an apartment shared by three girls with long hair. The top looks all pristine and sparkly until one day everything clogs up. So you pull up the drain and realize the whole thing is packed with wads of slimy hair and encrusted with soap scum until you have to stop inspecting the gunk and just mutter a heartfelt ewwwww as you drop it in the trash and wonder how you ever let it get so bad. It got so bad because you couldn't see it. You were just trying to shower and get on with your day, and you never gave the drain a second thought. But once you yank out all the gunk, everything starts flowing properly again.

Apparently, my soul was slimy and full of hairballs. Hairballs I metaphorically coughed up all over the carpet yesterday.

I got through it. I cried and sobbed and felt like my heart was literally cracking open, but I stuck to that @#$% cleanse. To the letter of the law, if not the spirit. I didn't dive face first into a bucket of fried chicken, but I sure as hell wasn't eating 80 percent vegetables either. More like 100 percent fried polenta and vegan cheese and episodes of Modern Family.

Then it was bad again for hours. More grief stricken will-this-ever-end-who-knew-pain-could-feel-like-this, until I found a video at 3:30 in the morning. Watching it on my phone in the deep dark quiet reminded me that there are good things, things beyond 33 years of pent up grief. Even when I'm in a hole I don't yet see the way out of, there's creativity and people who can move their bodies in astounding ways.


Hey, look. My caps are back. And I feel like me again. That's a relief.