Happy Valley

I have to have a baby right now – it’s a medical emergency

Stuffed with premium handcrafted Swiss chocolates, Charlotte Cripps hits a rock bottom with food and wonders if the same fear of relapse was why Alex was so scared of having kids

I used to hate it when I first got sober and clean and I sat in 12-step meetings feeling unhinged and vulnerable. Then somebody would share that they had relapsed on a teabag after giving up caffeine. It seemed so trivial when you are fighting every day to stay alive and not take that first drink or substance. But now I’m starting to see how, if I’m not careful, my addiction creeps back in through the side door. And bang, I’m locked in my bathroom again acting oddly.

I hit rock bottom at the weekend on premium handcrafted Swiss chocolate. It shocked me. A friend dropped off a mixed bag of eight large chunks of mismatched chocolate for me to try. On the top was this slab of whole roasted and caramelised California almonds in dark chocolate, which blew my mind. Apparently, every piece is a masterpiece – but I lost touch with all that quite quickly; it was all just a crunchy munch fest.

By the time I got to the crushed raspberries and fruity blackberry pieces in white chocolate, I was running for the bathroom, sick as a dog. There’s a red flag flying – it was a lethal combination – but that sickly sweet pink coloured chocolate tipped me over the edge into feeling quite unwell. It was difficult when five minutes later my mobile rang and it was the friend calling to see how I liked them.

The thought of eating chocolate again feels impossible; it’s just how I felt after a heavy night drinking – when you swear you will never drink again

“You haven’t eaten them all, have you?” she said. She started asking me what my favourite was? “Didn’t you look each one up on the leaflet?” I get out of the bathroom and trip over a box of 18 alcohol-free truffles she had left me as well. Oh my God, is this woman trying to kill me? Is there no end to this? I feel sick to the stomach. Am I going to eat them in a late-night frenzy – or do I throw them away? I just bin them – who cares if they cost an arm and a leg. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I set myself a deadline – go on the 5:2 diet for a month – or check into OA (Overeater’s Anonymous).

My heart is racing. When I looked at the high cocoa content of this chocolate, I thought about all the wonderful antioxidant properties of the raw bean. But good God, how much cocoa is in this stuff? Have I poisoned myself? The thought of eating chocolate again feels impossible; it’s just how I felt after a heavy night drinking – when you swear you will never drink again.

“Are you OK mum?” asks Lola. It’s like a little angel is looking into my face. “Why did you eat all the chocolate?” Oh my God, it’s scary – it’s triggering me – thank god I had no children when I was in my addiction. Maybe that’s why Alex was so scared of having them with me – in case he relapsed?

Things had been going really well – I was with Alex. I had achieved my first goal but I couldn’t enjoy it because I’d been told in no uncertain terms to move on to goal two: have kids. That morning I’d been to see a fertility doctor who tested my egg reserve and told me that… wait for it… I could be in early menopause. “Menopause? What the hell are you talking about,” I said, startled. “I’m wanting to have a baby – and I’m not even 40.”

“Well, your fertility test results are through the roof. You need to act now, but your chances are very slim,” said the doctor. I was crushed as I sat in my car after the meeting. I hadn’t even mentioned having kids to Alex. I was just going with the flow. But suddenly I reached for my mobile – it has to be done – “Hi Alex, it’s me Char. I have to have a baby right now – it’s a medical emergency.”

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