How to Cleanse Like a Pro

My panic face. Keep this in mind. You’ll need it for the visual.

It’s Just a Cleanse

Y’all, I just tried my first cleanse. Being a middle-aged woman (O.M.G. I can’t believe I just put that out into the universe… I feel sick… sick from old age & honesty), I can no longer simultaneously eat like a sumo wrestler AND have the waist of a Kardashian. As a matter of fact, it’s doubtful that I could eat like a breatharian and have the waist of a Kardashian. But, that’s ok. Looking like a ghetto barbie who won the lottery isn’t my thing. I do, however, want to be healthy.

When I’m not taking care of myself, my whole being feels “off”. I’ve been in peak physical shape before. Like, waaaay before. So, when I’ve had one too many cheat days my body yells at me like a drunk momma in Walmart. After listening to the yelling for a while, I finally decided that my body needed a reset.

I heard a lot about detoxes and cleanses and from what I could tell with the extensive googling I did, there didn’t seem to be much difference between the two. You just drink the drinks or swallow the pills and your body expels the bad like that kid in my high school that stabbed the principal with a fork. I couldn’t find much explanation on HOW the bad stuff gets eliminated but I figured I’d prolly have to pee a lot. It couldn’t be too bad… seems pretty popular. Popular things are never bad.

As luck would have it, my medically knowledgeable hubs heard me talk about my desire to clean out my body so he bought us both a 14-day supply of cleanse tablets, the men’s version for himself, the women’s version for me. I started right away. On a Sunday evening. AKA, the night before my daughter’s first overnight field trip. It was a big night for both of us. She was experiencing a rite of passage. And so was I.

What Had Happened Was…

I made sure to take the gender appropriate tablets cuz I really don’t wanna grow a penis at this age. Full disclosure, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t immediately have to pee. But I reminded myself to be patient… Rome wasn’t built in a day or whatever. So I got ready for bed, set my alarm for 5:30 am, and drifted off to sleep eager to wake up ten pounds lighter, svelt, and flat bellied. Bella had to be at school with all of her stuff by 7:40 am the next morning so I wanted to make sure I was giving myself time to drive the kids to school and help her carry her stuff in. Little did I know, I would not need the aforementioned alarm. (foreshadowing!!!)

Around 5 am I woke up with a mean case of the bubble guts. In my semi-lucid state, I figured the best course of action would be to ignore it and try to go back to sleep. I’m a southern woman- it’s what we do. If we wake up to a problem, we go back to sleep until it goes away. Just kidding… or am I? Anyway, I hate mornings. I mean I HAAAAAAYYYYYTE them. If I were to rank them among the things I hate the most it would go Hitler, my 4th grade teacher, mornings. So if I can get 15 more minutes of sleep, this classy lady is gonna power through the bubble guts.

I fell asleep for a minute and then abruptly woke up to sharp abdominal pains. Like the kind you get after eating questionable meat nachos at a gas station. I was afraid to move. What was the cause of this pain? Was my bladder THAT full? Once the pain subsided enough I shuffled to the bathroom. I mean, I did need to pee so that must be it. And pee I did. But not out of THAT hole. What was happening??? After what felt like 5 years I composed myself enough to get dressed and get the kids up. I was, at this point, about 10 minutes off schedule. No problem. I could make that time up with a little dry shampoo for myself and motivation for the kids. Like a drill sergeant I was shouting motivational phrases at my darling children like, “HURRY! You don’t need matching socks! Just grab 2 from the top of your hamper!” And it worked! At 6:50 am we were all downstairs with the kids eating a delicious homemade breakfast of frozen waffles.

Down But Not Out

And then… proving lightening sometimes DOES strike twice… it hit me again. There was nothing I could do except sit on the porcelain throne of horror and pee what should have been solid out of the other hole… again. You know when your kid brings you their toothpaste tube saying there’s no more but you know the trick of rolling the tube to get the last out and it just keeps coming out and then you can’t get it to stop? Yep. At 7:02 I started to panic. My baby girl was going to miss the field trip she’d looked forward to for 3 months because I couldn’t stop shatting. How do I sign my kids into the school office? In the “reason” block do I put “cleanse gone wrong”? How do I tell Bella that she got left behind because I couldn’t stop the toxins from flowing out of my body like liquid hot magma? I could’t let that happen.

I dug deep, y’all. I couldn’t let shat defeat me or disappoint my baby girl. I started channeling my drill sergeant again. From behind the bathroom door I yelled, “Bella! Roman! Get your stuff together! Put your shoes on! Do you have your snacks? Get in the car! I’ll be right there!” I said a prayer, made a few promises to Jesus that I fully expect to keep, and took care of business in every way. Somehow I managed to get my kids to school in time. Bella had 10 minutes to spare. And I worked from home that day because I couldn’t risk being the girl who lost bowel control at the office.

Moral of the Story:

A cleanse means that you will poo until your innards liquify and fall out of your body. Also, I’m still a contender for Mom of the Year and have a great story for the awards video montage, although it’s kinda gross. So, I guess you could say my chances are pretty good. I’m excited about it.

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Take A Step

Surprise!

When I became a mom I was surprised by quite a few things. For instance, I was surprised that I could still function enough to walk down the aisles of Target on just 30 minutes of sleep. Of course, I didn’t remember why I was there or how I got there, but I was there, nonetheless. Another surprise: how much poop could come out of a tiny, adorable baby body. You know the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral? Yeah… it’s like that. But with poo. Exploding poo. However, nothing surprised me as much as waking up from a years’ long parenting-induced fog, realizing that my whole identity had to be rediscovered and redefined.

My Name Is…

I didn’t lose myself over night. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, my sense of identity died a slow, sneaky death. I used to know exactly who I was and what I wanted out of life. I mean… I was ERICA! Short in stature, tall in sarcasm, with the misplaced attack instincts of a chihuahua. I was the same Erica who did exactly what was expected of me until my first abnormally large tramp stamp tattoo at the age of 21. The same Erica who moved to Italy by myself for the summer after I graduated from college because the idea of going back to my hometown made me feel like I was suffocating. The same Erica wanted nothing more out of life than to make everyone laugh.

Who Am I?

Yet, there I was, holding my new baby boy, my three-year-old little girlie by my side, a supportive husband, and I had no idea who I was anymore. My confidence was gone. I felt like an empty shell. Nothing that I used to enjoy made me happy anymore. One day I stopped singing in the car at the top of my lungs. One day I stopped watching Napoleon Dynamite on loop. Don’t get me wrong: I adored being a mom and still do. But in my mind, I was not good enough at it. Good moms spend every waking moment with their babies. I had to leave my babies every day. I had to pay my bills. I had obligations. I had to go to work. The career I used to be so proud of now made me cringe like the creepy guy in high school who followed me around trying to smell my hair. The career I worked so hard to build was now making me deeply and painfully resentful and I didn’t know how to fix it.

A switch flipped. The demands of my new family construct AND trying to excel in my career were suddenly overwhelming. I was no longer the person who I used to know so assuredly that I was. I couldn’t manage the simplest tasks without crushing exhaustion. I just wanted to close myself in a room with my babies and lock out the world.

Who was I? A mom? A wife? I was a person without a first name. I was no longer Erica. I was Roman’s mom. I was Bella’s mom. I was Rick’s wife. Erica was invisible. If I happened to have five minutes to myself, what would I do? Scrap book? NO! Cry in my closet. That’s what. I had no hobbies. Outside of my daily routine I was lost. How long had I been like this? I felt like I’d been in a time-warping fog and now the fog was lifting and I had to reorient myself to my surroundings like an alien abductee dropped in a crop circle naked and afraid.

Now What?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was at a crossroads. I could have stayed in my fog, accepted it as my new life, and moved on without my sparkle. I could have wanted to change but done nothing about it and become bitter and mad. Or I could have done what I DID. I took a step. Then another. Over the next seven years I just took steps. From the outside looking in I’m sure I looked like I was grasping at straws. I wasn’t. I was on a quest.

I opened an Etsy shop making jewelry. Had I ever had any jewelry training? NO! Was I terrible at it? YES! But it taught me elementary business ownership skills. It taught me how to market online. It taught me social media networking. It occupied my curiosity for a year or two until I decided one day on a whim to start my first blog.

I knew nothing about blogging. But I knew I had a message and I knew I wanted to give other women a quick escape of funny and happiness. I wanted to give other parents a place to mentally go to for 10 minutes while they’re hiding in the bathroom and laugh and relate and not feel so alone. And I started to learn to write. And writing led to my passion.

After two years of writing and posting and joining groups of other writers I discovered what I should have been doing all along. Comedy. One day I realized that nothing was standing between the dream I’d always had in the back of my mind and my reality. I always idolized comedians. But people didn’t do that in real life! People graduate from high school then go to college then become accountants or engineers or whatever pays the bills. Not COMEDY. But… if my idols could do it, maybe I can, too.

Erica. Erica Benefield.

So, at the age of 36 I started a new career. Me. Erica. Wife, mom, comedian. It’s not easy. I work my day job, take my kids to practice, have dinner with my family, put my kids to bed, kiss my husband and go to my shows. There are a lot of nights when my anxiety sets in and I try to talk myself out of performing because the safe thing to do would be to stay at home with my family and be normal. But when I get out on the stage, I remember why I do it. When I hear my kids tell their friends that their mom is a comedian, I tear up. My kids have no idea what I do for my day job but they know what comedy is! I get to help other grown ups forget the demands of their life for a few minutes a night and it’s the best job in the world.

If you’re still reading this painfully long, rambling post, here’s what I want you to take away: Life has a way of throwing off your plans. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re failing. It could be your greatest success. You don’t have to give up your dreams because you’re a parent. Being a mom or a dad doesn’t mean YOUR life is over. If you feel stuck, do SOMETHING, anything to get “unstuck”. Take a different path home. Go to a new restaurant. Make a bucket list of things you’ve always wanted to explore and cross each one off the list. Kids need to see their parents happy and healthy with their own joys. Just take a step. It’ll lead to another step. And don’t use your family as an excuse. Take them on the journey with you. It’ll make the ride so much more fun.

What’s your step gonna be?

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Why We Wine

Adults Know All

When I was a kid dreaming of becoming the famous person that I am, all the grown ups around me seemed to have life figured out. They had it together. Bills paid, scheduled car maintenance, starched clothes that looked professional and well-planned, mortgages, taxes, family organizational skills… all the adults were killin it as far as I could tell. All of them. {Except the guy that owned the store that we all knew was a cover for his weed business. But that guy served a different purpose.} I always assumed that there was some magical age where I would start wearing matching socks and get regular oil changes. I’ve since learned that there is no magical age. Turns out, grown ups in the ‘90’s were just really good at faking it (wink, wink).

Reality Bites

Based on my juvenile observations, adulthood wasn’t supposed to be chaotic and overwhelming. Finding love was never supposed to lead to heartache. Parenthood isn’t supposed to feel impossible. BUT IT IS, IT DID, AND IT DOES! Let me tell you a little secret if you haven’t discovered it for yourself already: the grown up world is rotten with the stench of reality. A reality that would be much more palatable if it weren’t falsely presented as perfection to us as kids through TV and movies, leaving songs such as “Purple Rain”, “You Outta Know”, and “Here I Go Again” my only hint as to the truth of reality. [And, I don’t know about you, but I thought “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers was really a song about a secret Asian man, and that’s just ONE example, so you can understand the messages of song were lost on me.]

For example: Walt Disney is a lying arsehole. I’ve never met a guy who would attempt to slay a dragon for my honor. I HAVE, however, met a few guys who would named their man hose “Dragon”. If Sleeping Beauty (AKA, the princess I most identify with) met a guy that her family warned her against, who lied and manipulated his way into her heart, knocked her up, then left her for someone younger and more ethnically diverse, I’d say he was describing my first marriage. It would be a warning to all little girls to look out for liars. And it would be useful. But that’s not what he did. So I thought all guys were protective and chivalrous… turns out, some of them are… noooooot.

Also, whoever wrote the Brady Bunch is a lying arsehole. Families don’t resolve their differences in 30 minutes or less. I didn’t know that and didn’t understand why my sister and I were still arguing after 31 minutes. I have one family member who has been holding a grudge against me for YEARS. But, then again, we don’t have Alice with her quick quips to help us see the light of reason.

Additionally, the guy who started Pinterest: AN ABSOLUTE ARSEHOLE. Pinterest is the sole reason women everywhere feel inadequate upon seeing our results after trying to bake from scratch the impossible candy-filled unicorn mirror glazed cake. And don’t get me started on the homemade charcoal mask that takes the top 6 layers of your face off. Could we get a social media platform that bakes the cake for us? Cuz that would be great. Oh, wait. Hey, Uber Eats! How you doin’?

The last example provided in this super-impactful, news-worthy, and vividly-made point: the male creator of Wonder Woman is a lying arsehole. When I run around in the same outfit as Wonder Woman, no cool music plays, I don’t gain any super human fighting skills, and people threaten to call the police. Also, I’m still waiting on my magic lasso, which, by the way, has yet to even SHIP! I bet it doesn’t even work.

All these realizations have culminated into a big let down. You know how you felt when you learned that Santa, the Easter Bunny, AND the Tooth Fairy were all made up? Yeah, like that. I feel like that every. single. day.

It’s Fine

Because reality has been a bit different than I imagined, I’ve found ways to cope with the misalignment of expectations. For example: “It’s fine.” I say that a lot. It’s such a versatile phrase! Shat goes south but I’m trying to convince myself that it’s survivable- “it’s fine”. My husband picks a restaurant I don’t really want to go to because he’s super healthy and I just want fried chicken bathed in honey mustard and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert but I don’t want to disagree because I’m a hopeless co-dependent AND I want to pretend like PMS isn’t ruling my life right now- “it’s fine”. My son strings gum out of his mouth and then wraps it around his neck before I can stop him- “it’s fine”. My daughter makes muffins and dumps half of the batter on the floor and now the dogs are “cleaning up the chocolate chips”- “it’s fine”. My dog gets scared by a passing dump truck and poo’s on the floor minutes before our house warming party… you guessed it! But sometimes “it’s fine” doesn’t work.

Now What?

We don’t have to go very far to hear what we’re doing wrong. We don’t exercise enough. We exercise too much. We shouldn’t dress like a school marm. We should really dress more conservatively. Have a career. Don’t work so much. Let your kids sleep in your bed. Don’t. You’ll kill them with your fat rolls. Don’t hug your kids too much… they’ll spoil. Discipline your kids, but not THAT way. Count calories, count fat grams, count carbs, eat carbs, don’t eat carbs, kale is all you should eat, and cauliflower is pizza now. Take meds to manage the stress, don’t take meds to manage the stress. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE! Who does? Who can tell me what to do cuz I have no fuq’n clue.

We are doing our best some days just to keep everything going. Relationships, careers, parenthood, expectations pile up like the unfolded laundry mountain and it’s easy to find yourself crying in a closet firmly grasping a bottle of champagne (hey, at least I keep it classy). But what if we were all more honest and forgiving with each other? What if we stopped hiding behind the fake perfection of staged social media pictures and smiles and showed what it’s REALLY like to be a grownup so that maybe it’ll be a little easier for those who will go through this stage of life after us? What if by sharing the hardships we all learn how normal it is to cry in the closet, go on mini-vacations to Target, or hide from our kids in the bathroom for just one moment of peace so that the next new mommy who comes along doesn’t think she’s doing EVERYTHING wrong?

You’re Enough

What’s rare to hear is what we’re doing RIGHT. Have you ever received a genuine and sincere compliment that has stuck with you all day, maybe for years? How great is that feeling?! What if we did more of that instead of breaking each other down so that we could feel superior for one second? We are more prepared for any journey when someone who’s already traveled that path tells us what to look out for. What if we did that for each other more often?

Yes, life is hard. Some good, some bad, some stupid… But there’s so much humor and beauty and good in the imperfect. If you ask me, that’s where the stories are. So, grab a glass of wine and accept the chaos. And maybe snap of picture of it. #whywomenwine We’ll swap war stories.

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