Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Sound of Sirens

Remember the EXERCISE IN SELF-CONTROL regarding the chocolate chip cookies last week? On that particular day, I did particularly well in resisting the temptation to eat even ONE cookie. I was strong. I triumphed over the cookies. I ignored the siren song. Mind over matter. I am woman; hear me roar.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I was baking cookies yet again, "for my husband" (A-hem. Yeah, I know. I think someone is kidding herself about the cookies, and perhaps, for whom she's actually baking, but I digress. Of course, I do. I digress all the time. It is what I do...)

As I was saying, it occurred to me yesterday that I was able to make chocolate chip cookie dough without referring to the recipe even once. Let that sink in for a moment. I have been in Saint Charles since December 24; seven weeks tomorrow. And in that time, I have made chocolate chip cookies so often that I no longer need to read the recipe. I have MEMORIZED it. Hmm...

We already established that my husband exercises extreme restraint when it comes to indulging in sweets, eating only one half at a time, so why have I found it necessary to buy the ingredients for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe every single week, and bake them, every single week? Well, "News Flash!' APPARENTLY, Chuck is not the only one eating these cookies.

I'm no math whiz, but let's say the recipe makes about 50 cookies. If Chuck eats two cookies per day, and that is actually more than his average consumption, that would mean that these delectable little cookies that I am making for "HIM" would last him a little longer than three weeks. Hmm...but I have to make them EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. That means SOMEBODY is eating about three dozen cookies by herself in any given week, or about five cookies per day. 

Oh, lordy. It's worse than I thought.

Last night, I went downstairs after Chuck was asleep to do a little first aid on my finger. I needed to soak it in warm, salt water, and while I was in the kitchen, the siren song of the cookies called out to me. Chuck's little baggie on the counter had three cookies in it, and while I could have eaten them, and replaced them with new ones in the freezer, I decided to eat them, AND some from the freezer. I popped a couple more in the microwave to thaw them, and had my own little personal cookie festival in the kitchen while I was soaking my finger, unbeknownst to my sleeping husband. Or so I thought.

I tiptoed back to bed, trying to avoid the loud creaky spots on the stairs and in the hallway, but Chuck was awake.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah, my finger was throbbing, so I soaked it for awhile," I said, hoping I didn't have chocolate chip cookie breath wafting across the pillows.

"I'm sorry. I hope you sleep well."

I should sleep fine, I thought. My tummy is full, and my finger feels better. Please don't ask me what took me so long, I thought. He didn't. We both fell asleep shortly after that.

Fast forward to this morning at breakfast. 

"Last night, when I reached out for you, you were gone, and then I heard the microwave go off. I thought that was odd."

"Yeah, I was downstairs soaking my finger in hot water," I said, wishing I could just leave it at that, but that is not my style, so I continued, "but I'm not going to lie. I used the microwave to defrost a couple of cookies."

"Oh, I figured you were heating up the water for your finger when you told me you had soaked it last night. You know, you could have helped yourself to my cookies on the counter," he seemed to be mulling things over in his mind, "unless you ate those, too."

"Well, if you MUST know, yes, I ate YOUR cookies, and then ate some FROZEN cookies that had to be thawed, which is why you heard the microwave go off," I continued, feeling my cheeks flush pink, "and then I replaced your cookies on the counter with new frozen ones." It sounded like so many more cookies when I had to explain it out loud. 

"I see," he said. 

What DOES he see? I wonder. Does he see a weak wife, with no self-control, who even eats cookies after she's brushed her teeth, and gone to bed? Does he see someone who can't even stay away from the cookies after discussing just one day ago, her resolve to do better? I know he doesn't see that. He is not one to sit in judgment on me, or anyone else for that matter. He just can't relate to my weakness around desserts. 

Cookies don't have a siren song in Chuck's world. They're simply cookies, a treat to be broken in two, and savored over a period of time, tasting the butter on his tongue, detecting the sugar melting in his mouth, and biting down on the soft chocolate chips. He has probably never downed a half a dozen cookies in one sitting in his whole, entire life. 

But I have. When the siren song begins, there is no savoring. There is only eating, quickly, one cookie, and while still chewing, reaching for another, and then another, and not stopping because I'm full because I eat too quickly for that handy little mechanism to kick in, but stopping when my brain engages, and I finally realize I have eaten much more than a serving, and I really must stop. (In case someone asks me how many cookies I just consumed. Better to have to admit to six, than say, a dozen, right?)

After reading Bren√© Brown's book Daring Greatly last year,  I resolved not to have shame be a part of who I am any more, but I have to admit, I was kind of embarrassed to admit out loud what I had done. 

I have never lied about eating more than my share of the cookies; just ask my mom, and I knew I wouldn't lie about the cookies last night, if asked, but man, I really hoped no one would ask. So, I'm owning that yes, I have had more than my share of the cookies. What am I going to do about that, now that it's out in the open?

I'm not looking for advice, friends. I know what to do. I have done it before, and I will do it again. I just have to find that little trigger inside that holds me accountable, that makes me show up in my life, and keeps me present long enough to be aware of my actions. 

Sunday, I started the conversation with my husband about WHY I seem to be eating more than I should. Chuck, while he cannot relate to it, tries to be very empathetic and understanding. I'm sure it seems so simple to him that if I want my pants to fit better, I simply need to cut back on my eating, and exercise a little more. That's what he does; it should work for me, too. Right?

Right. When I'm ready. I'm getting there. If being aware is the first step, I'm almost ready for the next one. Tomorrow is my day of reckoning. Not next MONDAY just because Monday is when everyone starts a diet, right? I'm starting tomorrow because I'm giving myself today to sort through the emotions behind my eating, and I'm going to commit to my best friend, and to you, that I'm going to get on top of this. Today, my job is to figure out how to silence the sound of sirens.





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