Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down - Mary Poppins
Let food be thy medicine - Hippocrates
Who ate all the peanut butter? - My dad
Eating my Feelings:
I snuck to the kitchen, opening a drawer to slip a spoon from its cradle. With a clockwise spiral motion I collected a mouthful of smooth brown medicine from the jar. To free my hands I rested the spoon upside down on my tongue, twisted the white lid back onto the jar, then slid the Skippy peanut butter in the cupboard.
Standing in the dark, my taste buds registered the taste, texture and banquet of comfort. A self-soothing spoon of salt, sugar and peanuts diluted with each tongue lap and circle around my mouth, preparing for the slow journey below. And I swallowed the ball of sweet goodness, pushing down hurtful words, memories of the day and feelings I dared not face.
There was little joy in the eating, and after I swallowed, immediate regret. And shame. And even though I only ate a tiny spoonful, over time I would eat the entire jar, hoping Mom and Dad wouldn’t notice.
Now after years of therapy I still find myself opening the silverware drawer, but now I stop and smile. I ask myself, what feeling am I avoiding?
And I take a different journey.
I love food, I love to eat - but instead of eating my feelings, now I feed my soul.
Last night I dreamed of a restaurant, serving world music, culture and cuisine. A spiral staircase wound past fancy restaurants, local street food and vendors offering local food. The cost? All you-can-eat for one admission. Belly full, I stood on the ground floor to pay, my heart ringing with laughter and the resonance of instruments. Foreign words tingled my lips as I inhaled unfamiliar scents from the swirling air.
“Come and dance with me” I called to the patrons waiting to enter, “this place is amazing!” A few children joined me as I spun in pure joy, arms wide to the room. Most of the adults remained seated, looking stern and disapproving.
“Sit down, behave yourself.” A stern woman shook her head.
I tried again, “I had coffee and beignets in New Orleans, crêpes in France, lunch overlooking the ocean in Portugal. How can you be so sad? You can do anything - visit anywhere!”
And I woke from the dream realizing. The restaurant was a metaphor - for life.
This life, our life, is an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Too many of us forget to find joy. And choose instead to focus ONLY on the negative. Of course, there are negative things - horrible injustice and cruelty and we must face those things with purpose and intention to dismantle what we can. But life also carries daily pleasures, and moments of pure magic.
I linger now when I eat, in textures, sounds and love. And I still eat peanut butter out of the jar. Shamelessly and sometimes with apple slices.
Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. - Mame Dennis.
Image by Alicia Petresc - https://unsplash.com/@alice02