Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Using dreams

Once in awhile, no matter how long ago we quit drinking, we AA members still have a "using dream," in which we begin again, drinking or drugging. And wake up with a start and a cold chill, wondering, "Did I just flush my life down the john?!" For me they come at the rate of a couple times a year. Including last night.

Why? What does it mean? Is it just a way to renew my feelings of gratitude for the freedom my program gives me? Or is it a warning?

In my version of this dream (which may be pretty common), I don't dream that I'm overwhelmed by temptation. I don't say, "I want it, I mean to have it, pour me one!" Nope, in my using dreams, somebody hands it to me and I swill it without thinking. My dreams aren't about conscious decision-making, but about dimwitted unthinking auto-pilot behavior.

So possibly I have the dream when I've been playing with fire in some way. Maybe by longing for abuseable substances, but maybe with some other form of bad life management. Ignoring a cautionary message my smarter self is trying to hammer through my thick skull.

My latest temptation -- boy my blog is one thrill after another these days -- is cashew butter. Hey, for me it could be the road to perdition.

But it's s-o-o-o-o good. Oh wow. The colors.

I discovered a year and half ago, through dietary experimentation, that I'm allergic to peanuts. This was hard to face. Very.

I have to eat sugar-free and low carb. I hate low carb. In heaven, I fully expect my reward to be the ability to eat all the bread, potatoes, and flaky buttery piecrust I want. But it ain't an option in this life. On low carb, one can and should do small, sensible amounts of healthy complex carbs. I hate small sensible amounts.

Peanut butter is one thing I both loved with a passion, and was allowed on the diet. Besides, I've eaten vats of it all my life. This is one reason that I never attributed the -- um --- distress I experienced to my beloved peanut butter. A late-life allergy to peanuts is unusual but it happens, and I faced facts and gave it up.

Yesterday in the grocery store, I picked up a jar of cashew butter. Carefully, I checked the label. Organic stuff, and not processed with peanut oil, which nuts-in-a-can usually are.

Should I try it? I weighed the risk: at worst, I'd be looking at about three days of itchy misery but no danger, if my system handles it the same way it handles peanuts.

Took it home. Stirred it up. Spread it on a single slice of ultra-healthy whole grain bread, thickly enough so that I kept having to catch the ooze and lick it off my finger. It was delicious. It was magnificent. Forgive my emoting, but it's been a long, long time. [YouTube alert -- for those with slow connections]

By nightfall any reaction would be fully underway. I told myself, "Even if you can eat this stuff, that doesn't mean you can gulp spoonfuls out of the jar every day and overdo it, like you did the peanut butter. You need to do this sanely. Sensibly. As a treat, not a steady diet."

No allergic reaction. O joy! I missed my peanut butter so much, and here was a gift from God to compensate me.

That's very much the way I felt about alcohol when I first discovered it. And maybe that's why I had the using dream.

Overindulgence in cashews actually could be dangerous, if I end up in the emergency room with an allergic reaction. Botanically, cashews are nuts and peanuts are legumes, but most people with peanut allergies are sensitive to tree nuts too. Since there is a difference and since my allergy is mild, hives-oriented, and late-life, it was worth a try, but if I developed one sensitivity, I could develop another.

The question is: Can I do cashews in moderation, or is my basic tendency to overdo everything gong to take over? Will this treat be like alcohol, which I have to stay entirely away from, or like carbs, which I have to learn to do in moderation? We'll see.

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