21 November 2009

Chocolate is my alcohol

Is that even possible?

I had a horrible week at work. Horrible to the point where I just wanted to sit down and cry at work...and I'm not a crier. But that's a post for another day.

Yesterday I had made plans to stop at Safeway after work to pick up M&Ms (my current chocolate fix) so off I went. I was depressed, overwhelmed, stressed out, and drove like a zombie. I got to the parking lot and opened my car door and thought "you know, chocolate won't make you feel better". Then I heard the little voice of the Reward Center of my brain whisper "yes, it will. We can deal with the bad feelings later". I was literally thunderstruck. For the first time ever I completely understood what was meant when people would say "don't eat your feelings". Chocolate actually does get rid of all the negative crap bouncing around in my head. Well, not get rid of as much as suppresses.

Anyway, I thought of a blogger I read every day, Queenneenee, who just celebrated her fourth birthday with AA. I wondered how different it would be if I was in a liquor store parking lot preparing to get a bottle. Is it really different to drown out the bad feelings with chocolate instead of alcohol? If chocolate is what I need to deal with stuff, is that healthy? Probably not. Even as I was standing at the till with my bags of candy I thought this isn't really different than a case of beer. It'll be used for the same purpose. And oddly, I felt like people were looking at my armload in judgment, knowing that I was going to go home and eat my bad day away one chocolate at a time. I felt some relief when the chocolate was hidden in the grocery bag so people wouldn't see how much I bought.

Now please remember, I'm not a drinker and never have been. When I was 17 I went to a party with the guys I worked with and someone spiked my drink. I didn't understand what had happened until I watched an Oprah show on rohypnol several years later, but at the time I just couldn't comprehend why I was so drunk after only two drinks. That night I had lost the ability of language and couldn't figure out how to translate the feeling of 'no' into words that others would understand. Several bad things happened that night, including almost being thrown off a balcony and being nekkid in a bed with at least one workmate. I don't remember everything about that happened to me, but the end result was that I don't ever drink alcohol unless I completely trust the people in the room and even then I'm more likely to skip it.

Even though I don't drink, I can relate to the feelings of helplessness that come with being unable to resist the urge that alcoholics talk about. I know what it's like to feel like your brain is hijacked and your body is operating without your consent. I know what it's like to crave something so completely that it becomes an all-consuming need. And goodness me, that's how I feel about chocolate.

I have enjoyed the rich, fatty goodness for most of my life. My allowance as a child was $0.50, half for a chocolate bar and half for a comic book. Then my allowance increased and somehow I remember eating as many as three chocolate bars a day. And I would beat myself up about them. I would chastise my little 12 yr old self for not having enough control to stay away from them. I would look in the mirror and tell myself how fat I was (really, I wasn't, but I thought I was) from eating the chocolate, but I couldn't stop. I remember being a teenager and feeling terribly lonely, thinking that all the other teenagers were out with friends on that Friday or Saturday night and here I was alone, friendless, and unwelcome in their circle. I would eat a chocolate bar and all the bad feelings just went away. Even now as an adult I can be frustrated as all get out and when I pop some chocolate in my mouth my frustration melts away as the chocolate swirls around my tongue.

What's really interesting to me is that I don't feel this way about food in general. I don't make three sandwiches and eat them. I don't make scrambled eggs with more than one egg. I don't gobble down enough pizza for a whole family. Just chocolate. And I can have a full meal, feel completely satisfied, and still eat the bowlful of M&Ms. I can be sitting in front of the TV or computer and have my tongue raw from too many Whopper balls and still eat more. My stomach can hurt from the amount of chocolate chip cookies I ate, but I'll still fit another one in.

Now the question is, what am I going to do about it? I have no idea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember vividly the ANTM where Tyra Banks outed herself on her chocolate bar that she has daily :)

And I think its sort of fitting that the thing most women crave the most is also poison to 'man's best friend' - his dog :)

Love, Mom