I am a woman of many quirks.
And those aren’t even the WEIRD ones.
I choose to believe that these tendencies fall somewhere to the left of the border between “charming” and “crazy” but I’m well aware that very choice might actually have tipped me over the line into crazy-town. I think we all have our own crazy, and embracing it makes life a lot easier to manage.
1. Diet Coke, and
2. Mexican Food
The Mexican food thing is less mysterious, as I have long been a fan of any food item that even vaguely sounds like it comes from south of the border. Burrito? Sign me up. Enchilada? Yes, I think I will! Taco? Sopapilla? Enchirtio? Quesadilla? You betcha! Basically if Alex Trebek would sound insufferable pronouncing it, then I’ll gladly eat it (with sour cream and a side of beans and rice!). But for some reason, post-sickness Sara wants to eat it—and only it—for every meal. Six years ago, after a heinous bout with the flu (and I mean the big daddy himself, the actual “influenza”, which kicked my ass so hard that it is maybe the only time in my life I ever thought to myself each night that I might not wake up the next morning) I ate nothing but taco salads for two weeks. Literally. I ate a taco salad every day for lunch, and nothing else the rest of the day. (Except for diet coke, of course. Duh.) Eventually my appetite becomes less laser focused and other foods begin to appeal to me and all goes back to normal. Or as normal as it gets with me, anyway.
After beating this latest viral foe back with a whip and chair, I find myself right back in diet coke & taco territory. I’ve managed it a little better this time around, choosing to embrace the diet coke-iness (sodium and all) and to only occasionally indulge in duly journaled and accounted for Mexican food. When I relayed this to my therapist two weeks ago (whom I adore, and whom I also had to explain my five-minute tardiness due to the hold up in the line at the McDonald’s drive thru where I had been forced to stop before our session in order to purchase a $1 large Diet Coke) she nodded and said that she was curious about whether there was a psychological reason that these things in particular seemed to comfort me after being sick. I responded that I was pretty sure it wasn’t the result of any long buried trauma. It’s not like I had once been accidentally locked in a dumpster where my life was saved because I managed to survive for a week on a half empty can of diet coke and a discarded chalupa. I think it has less to do with the type of food, than it does with food itself.
I have a long history of using food in ways that have nothing to do with nutrition. For as long as I can remember, food has been a comfort to me. I have used it as a reward for a job well done, for consolation for a broken heart, as a sedative to dull the panic that sometimes rises within me when my stress level soars out of control. Never mind that I know full well that it’s a fleeting fix, that eventually the same thing I reached out to for comfort will cause even more discomfort in it’s wake, because sometimes the need for temporary comfort outweighs the consequences. Spoken like a true addict, no?
Just today, after a long morning sitting in the ER with my 15 year old son (who it turns out is just fine, the shooting abdominal pains that sent us there with him doubled over and moaning have been explained and treated and all is well with the world), as I made my way into the office to salvage what I could of the work day, I rolled my neck to try and release the stress and worry accumulated over the last several hours, and out of the corner of my eye I saw two words that advertised exactly what I knew would make me feel better right then:
I found myself changing lanes and positioning the car to make the turn into the drive thru lane, my mind racing with the kind of magical thinking that only those of us acquainted with my level of food-crazy can understand. Yes, a $.99 chicken burrito make me feel better, I just KNEW it would. Mexican food makes everything right. Sure, it would cost me 11 points, and I would probably eat the lunch I’d packed that day when I got to work anyway, but I wasn’t going to get anything done feeling like this anyway, so valium via burrito seemed perfectly justified. As I made the turn toward the parking lot, I looked up and saw the golden arches next door and thought to myself “Maybe a $.99 double cheeseburger would make me feel even better. Ooh! Or an apple pie! Or….”
And that’s when I snapped out of it.
A burrito wasn’t going to make me feel better in the long run. What ailed me wasn’t going to be soothed by a burger, or pie, or even a $1 large diet coke. No, the only thing that would really bring me a little peace would be a few deep breaths, a few hours of catching up at work, and a few moments spent getting it out of my head and into words.
Guess I really am starting to feel better, huh?
An interesting week
3 weeks ago