This is a dark story, laced with fear. At 10:50 p.m. on a Friday night, I feel scared and powerless mothering a teen. I can’t fix or smooth this — can I? Am I strong enough, graceful enough, able enough, to see this through? Fright can be deadly for an unsteady person (like me) with a history of using sugar as armor. Rather than see only darkness in.this.moment, I will seek a bit of beauty and calm through writing. This is #32 in the series I started 1/31/21.

Notice the spined, spiky leaves on the Thistle wildflower. It’s hard to pick it, to reach the beauty. Colored pencil by Annie Hurley, daughter and Research Assistant, New Jersey Center for Water Science and Technology at Montclair State University. Proud of her. Anne Hurley Artwork.

On February 17, I wrote Addiction Recovery Story #13, Milk Thistle: Out…


A week ago Friday — the last day of Skippy’s spring break— we drove down to Sandy Hook with her and two pals. But life’s seas were churning, as they will, and I fell the next night on my recovery path. I picked myself up; the sun came back out. Here is the latest in the story series I started 1/31/21.

For an overeater and sugar addict, is splurging on pink jewelry much different from picking up a pink cupcake? Hilma earrings with glass and gold-plated beads, made by artisans in Guatamela. Mine are a lighter pink pattern. They have gold-plated posts (not wire loops, which can pull down earlobes) and, well, I love them.

I haven’t written a story in this sugar/overeating addiction recovery series since April 7 — that’s 11 days.

I wanted to, I meant to, it pressed on me, because I ran into a roadblock or two during that time…


I walked with grace through the Easter candy season, free and clear, no longing for kiddie candy and magic chocolate rabbits. Under my snug control top L’eggs pantyhose and pink Lilly Pulitzer dress, my belly was full after our Sunday holiday meal— a normal entree, with a big salad and steamed fresh asparagus. So what happened at 1:30 a.m. in the kitchen, three mornings later? I promised to write about my sugar/overeating addiction recovery journey in real time, as I rise and as I stumble, so here goes.

“Cloud Hugging” — a photograph of Pink Magnolias by Jerry LoFaro, from Fine Art America, an online art forum. (Hint: You can buy a print there.)

Years ago, I pitched a magazine story and my editors especially loved…


My bedtime reading last night was the April InStyle Melissa McCarthy cover story. I slowly turned glossy pages — no scrolling on my iPhone or MacBook. I looked forward to the rare, delicious treat all day. Melissa’s beautiful hair, lipstick, blanket jacket and pastel, puff-sleeve dress — plus her personality as an actress, and her real size— drew me in. When did you last buy a magazine?

Magazines are thinner and flimsy these days, and you can find so much for free on the web, from pie recipes to essays, pink couches to tea towels. Truly, IDK how much longer…


And I definitely do — in the mirror. This is #1, Buttercup, in my flower-titled series on sugar addiction.

The Evil Queen with mirror. Illustrations from the 1913 play “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Jessie Braham White, Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Edmond W Rickett and Charles Buckles Falls.

Here’s how I know I am an addict. I cannot turn away from my substance once I start — primarily if it’s sugary but also floury, baked buttery, chocolate, salty or sweet chippy, fried or doughy (or fried and doughy).

I might return to its lure, chase its hit, five minutes later, that night, the next day. For a string of days. A dead daisy crown of months. A tarnished silver necklace of years. And when I indulge in my substance…


Accepting “life on life’s terms” beats at the heart of 12-step recovery programs. When things go right, or things go wrong, or things stay the same, we don’t need to wallow in our substances. We strive to keep our faces to the sun and carry on. Like the wild rose, we reach, we ramble — and we flower. This is the latest installment in the sugar & overeating addiction recovery series I started 1/31/21.

“Wild Rose” watercolor by my talented brother-in-law, artist David Hurley of Maine. Date unknown. His wife, Sheila Costello, is a gifted gardener with an eye for beauty. She tends fragrant heirloom roses, too. Dave + Sheila fell in love and married young. “Did you already have a family when you painted this?” I asked Dave. “We probably had at least two of our children,” he said. They have three smart, handsome sons and a baby grandson who looks just like Dave.

I’m not surprised, are you?

Big shift in our home, with the short Brunetti — so nicknamed, by me, for her shiny brown hair — back…


I donated platelets at the Paramus donor center again yesterday, and young Alice came out to play. She can be a Cookie Monster. This is #30 in my flower-titled story series started 1/31/21.

Dahlia stunner from HERE. I have grrown Dahlias from tubers or plants, not seeds. More power to you if you raise up huge beauty from baby seeds.

I wrote on February 28 about #resisting cookies at the “recovery table” in the blood donor center. That was “Addiction Story #18, Marigold: Nabisco in My Rearview Mirror.”

I’ve been donating platelets throughout the pandemic and recently stepped it up to once a month.

But in March, I did not walk away from the treats.

I am honest about my slips. My angel in the recovery program…


This is a biggie. Wait until you hear what happened with the blue box of exquisite chocolate this week. Here is the latest in my flower-titled story series about sugar/overeating addiction recovery, started 1/31/21. (What picture should come first — the blue Hydrangea or the blue candy box? Right, the flower.)

The Nikko Blue Hydrangea from Nature Hills Nursery in Omaha, Nebraska. Notice how the vibrant flowers are in the forefront; the past is a blur.

This is the 29th story in my series but might be the most pivotal one.

This is the tale of breaking up with chocolate. Being able to look that passionate lover in the eye and #resist. I no longer choose, no longer need, to succumb to her charms. …


All my life, Easter has signified rebirth and new hope. This is #26 in my flower-titled series about sugar/overeating addiction, started 1/31/21. I pledged to capture my struggles in real time and real stories, as they emerge in the garden of life.

The true champs among spring flowers. A band of Buttercup-yellow, ruffled trumpets to announce the season. They bring to mind little girls’ straw hats and color-dipped dresses—handpicked outfits for Easter Mass. The baby blooms emerge head to head, Tête-à-Tête, on fresh green stems. Even their French name is fashionable. They are resilient.

I’m writing this on Good Friday, and though I’m less devout now than I was as a Saint Mary’s School girl, I remember when the darkness and mourning of this day on the Catholic calendar really hit me.

I was a Rutgers student, returning home for Easter weekend via two buses — the first from New Brunswick to…


Layer, Bundt, crumb, Costco sheet, upside-down, funnel, angel, pricey restaurant slice— I’ll pass. I’ve had my fill. I was a different woman on vacation this week. Here is #25 in the flower-titled sugar/overeating addiction series I started 1/31/21.

Behold The Blue Pig Tavern, one of my favorite restaurants, as much for the crackling fire as for the Caesar salad and ingredients sourced from Beach Plum Farm. This week, the salad featured dried strawberries; the gift shop sells tall jars of farm jam.

I’m changing on this recovery journey, begun in earnest last summer.

Dan and I got away this week for four days/three nights. We stayed at a small hotel from Monday to Thursday in Cape May, the historic seaside town at the Southern tip of our state. (We are both double vaccinated; the hotel has careful Covid cleaning practices; and masks were required…

Alice Garbarini Hurley

Magazine maven, craft coffee lover, legal guardian. Passionate about fashion and lipstick — though it may not look that way when I dash to the supermarket.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store