A couple nights ago, I was a ravenous beast. I had no idea what I wanted, but, as usual, it wasn’t in my cupboards. (Anyone else ever go grocery shopping, and then open your fridge a couple hours later and wonder why you don’t have any food?) All I knew was that I wanted “fruit and fresh”.
A craving for pico de gallo slapped me across the face and I couldn’t forgive it. I needed it badly, but it betrayed me.
Listening to my gut, I ran off to Chipotle for the first time in years, with daydreams of fajita burritos dancing in my head. I once dated a guy that had an affair with Chipotle, and he dragged me into it, making us a beautiful love triangle.
As with many relationships with no rational foundation, over time it became stale and gave me heartburn. Oh – the guy and I broke up, too.
With anticipation to relive the flavors bursting out of their burritos and immaculately crystallized on their chips, I ordered both with extra hot sauce and dove in. It was delicious – though not as delicious as I remembered – and I finished it all off, soon after slipping into a sweet carb-induced slumber, lulled by Ice T’s undercover suave in Law & Order: SVU.
Two hours later, not much past midnight, I awoke with fury. My stomach was the size of a cantaloupe. Long story short, I didn’t fall asleep until 5:30am (which is when I usually get up for work). I didn’t get sick, but my stomach felt like a balloon covered in capsaicin and blown up too much. I knew when I got out of bed, I’d need to do something to heal it. In general, while my eating hadn’t been terrible, for the past few-six months I hadn’t necessarily been kind to my body, either. I often feasted from the enchanting glow of the vending machines in the basement at work – Lunchables, hard boiled eggs (I know what you’re thinking), chocolate milk, potato skin chips, coconut water.
I went to Vive Juicery and picked up eight juices, all with ingredients that made me think of gentleness and healing in my body. I have a juicer, but I didn’t have time to mess around. (I’m pleased to say that they once again have my favorite, Sweet Mint! I think grapes are out of season, so it currently doesn’t include them, but it’s still so wonderful.)
One of the juices I bought two of was the Sensei, which has lemon, ginger, honey, cayenne, filtered water, and activated charcoal. Charcoal absorbs toxic substances that you may have ingested.
I also decided to try to eat more alkaline-friendly foods to balance out my innerds and reduce acid reflux (which, though sporadic, I never experienced until a year ago). I’ve been eating really great, whole foods.
The first Sensei I sucked down (shortly after a shot of ginger) shot me back into a whirlwind of memories, which is the heart of this post.
I drank charcoal once before in my life, but it wasn’t a gentle experience. The whole thing could be elaborated on using a series of blog posts and psychiatric self-evaluations. As I drank this juice, an entire life chapter of thoughts and emotions came whirling back to me.
In September 2004, I had a “moment”. Looking back, I realize a series (and lifetime) of events culminated to this moment. I had no understanding of myself and my worth. I was a happy person, and while I professed certain beliefs by word, my actions showed that I believed that my happiness and worth was based solely on the thoughts and approval of others. Sadly, I think this is often typical of younger girls.
One night, I was emo over a relationship I had been involved with and took some Tylenol to get to sleep. I never took (or take) pills – OTC or otherwise – and so I wasn’t familiar with how I could feel them work in my body. I took a few more when I didn’t feel them working. Huffing and puffing around my apartment, I took a few other different things from the cupboard. It was a mix of DayQuil, NyQuil, iron supplements, and whatever else was in the cupboard. Being a bigger girl, I didn’t think it would affect me much. I had no idea why I was doing it. In my mind then, I think it was for attention, but I was in my apartment alone and it was really for my own wallowing, hoping someone would care even though know one knew. I think it was sort of an “I bite my thumb at you!” and “take that!” to the world, even though the world didn’t understand or care about my immature suffering over not feeling validated by someone I was investing all of my energy into. I started chatting with a friend on AIM (SO old) and apparently I was typing really slurry and like a drunk. I ended up telling him that I took a couple things to relax. He was concerned and called his friend (who happened to be family to the relationship) without my knowing. Shortly after, my phone rang and it was the mother, asking if I was okay, and that she heard I took a few things. I said I just took a couple Tylenol and then NyQuil so I could fall asleep. She asked me to see how much I took.
I went to the kitchen and was shocked. On the counter, there were about 30 pill wrappers, and a bottle of some liquid medicine (I don’t remember what). I thought I was in control, but amidst it, I was affected by what I was taking and the amount to the point that I didn’t even notice or have comprehension of what I was doing.
They had called an ambulance in the meantime. When it showed up with the police, I was embarrassed. I worked at the popular gas station where all the cops came in, and I knew this one. I remember that the officer, Nate, called me “sweetheart” when he was checking on me…I think we were both shocked that I was in the situation and it was a tender moment. They saw all the wrappers and got me in the ambulance to the hospital. He signed me in to the ER/Trauma Unit, where I was met by a butch nurse with zero compassion or patience. The whole night was full of battles of nature different from this blog post: from the Pathways guy telling me God was imaginary to a trusted leader telling me to get un-involved with my hobbies and family.
But I definitely remember the charcoal.
Because of poisoning, I had to drink two giant Styrofoam cups of charcoal slurry through a straw. It was the consistency of wet sand or sugar, and tasted like fluoride and powder. It was awful, but the intended side-effects were worse, and you’ve never done it all until you’ve lost your guts every 30 seconds in a portable latrine (basically a glorified bed pan mounted to a walker) in open plain sight of everyone in the ER. Because I was there for overdose, they wouldn’t allow me to go into a bathroom. It was embarrassing and I felt shame.
I was in Trauma for three hours or so. My liver toxicity (in hindsight, I think they were referring to AST/ALT) was around 87 after some elimination from charcoal. Normal I was told was around 15-20 (though if you look it up, it seems it could be as high as 40). The charcoal worked hard for me, and prayers did, too. Around 2:30 am, they checked me into the Psych Ward and every half hour I was woken by nurses checking my levels. By 5am, my level was a 7. SEVEN. They couldn’t believe it and said it was unheard of, and that someone upstairs must really love me. I concur. It was miraculous.
[I was going to insert a picture of a Psych Ward here, but the image search results are ridiculous!]
When I checked in, they wouldn’t believe I wasn’t suicidal. And I wasn’t. I didn’t want to die (in fact, I often battle a fear of death). What started as a stupid, innocent cry for attention and self-awareness grew into a huge fiasco. They took my scriptures and my clothes since my pajamas had a string in the waist band, and they said I could hang myself with it. The scriptures, I was told, were a detriment to my psychiatric well being since they encouraged me to imagine things that weren’t real.
I ended up staying in the unit for four or five days. More on that some other time. They realized I was far more hygienic and sane than most that were there at the time, and that I could go.
The point of all this is that one little sip made me reflect on the sanctity of life.
I am so grateful that I have evolved into my own skin. Not every day is easy, and some days in front of the mirror are disastrous, while most are just fine. But not putting emphasis on my relationship status to define my worth and maturing through life experiences as really saved me. I look back and want to throw my arms around that poor girl. She had no belief in herself, or the greatness that she could achieve.
I’m grateful for family, and the closeness you can develop if you just give it a chance and show each other mercy. For friendships and pardoning imperfections. For trusting myself. For the ability to feel love and that my value is not only divinely rooted, but sprouts from true compassion shared between humans.
I’m so glad I’m no longer in that place of insecurity. Leaving it has washed away a multitude of guilt and imperfections. I’ve traded it in for the nervousness of my abilities as I grow older, but I trust in myself and in my God to shield me from too much harm.
I’m willing to live in brightness and refreshment. I love when I’m in a beautiful moment, and I’m so entwined that I don’t even have time to recognize that my body image has nothing to do with that glorious place.
I may have my days. But I know I am a daughter of value and worth, of beauty and integrity. I am a completely unique blueprint, never to be recreated.