When Jonesing for Sugar Teaches You the Secret to Life
Sometimes I find myself staring into the depths of a pint of Cherry Garcia at eleven o’clock at night, wondering where all the ice cream went and when I started eating it.
But for all the angst a gal can feel when her spoon scrapes the bottom of the carton, it was the cookie dough ice cream that taught me the secret of life.
The first thing my wildly spiraling sugar cravings taught me is that I don’t want sugar so much as I want love. You know how this works. For a while, when we need love late at night, the brain hamsters tell us that love can be found at the bottom of a bottle of bourbon or jar of Nutella.
But the sugar cravings and the yearnings for affirmation helped me learn to recognize that less-than-desirable states can serve a very valuable purpose. Thanks, less-than-desirable states.
I’ve had my fair share of dating and relationship disasters. I’ve had my fair share of friendships go lopsided and my fair share of feeling lonely. When I’m not paying attention, this loneliness makes itself known when my itchy, clicking fingers head to my Gmail and Facebook accounts, hoping for more likes or love notes.
Jonesing for love is like jonesing for sugar. They feel the same way in the body. They show up in the same addictive behaviors. Eventually, I figured out that looking to a boyfriend or a snickerdoodle to fill a hole is handing my power away to something outside myself.
That’s just way too much power to hand over to a man or a cookie. Especially because the man and the cookies love you, but being your sole source of fulfillment is a lot of responsibility and they have their own lives to lead. Sitting in the kitchen all scrumptious and soft-baked takes effort, you know.
My Recipe for Abandoning the Sugar and the Affirmation Cravings
Loving myself. By guzzling green juice instead of a mocha. By realizing that I’ll feel better if snickerdoodles are banished from the kitchen. By learning to interpret what my emotions are telling me. (Spoiler: It’s not “Go get a cookie.”)
Caring for myself in a deep and nurturing way allows me to climb off the hamster wheel of late night ice cream pints and release the death grip on my phone. Not that these things aren’t wonderful, but they’re best when enjoyed for themselves and not as a substitute for peace. Only I can bring myself peace.
Loving myself doesn’t have to mean radiating in some brilliant yogic glow. No need to set myself up for failure in a world of alarm clocks and traffic and hormones. Loving myself can be as simple as making the best choice I can in each moment. Being gentle with myself.
Caring for myself allows me to love everyone else in my life, bigger and better and bolder. I have a lot more to give, because I surround myself with love daily, even if it doesn’t taste like it.
The Promised Secret to Life
It’s about loving, not being loved.
Slight change in tense, totally different meaning. I want to follow my heart, not my ego. Sometimes the ego is louder but that doesn’t mean I have to listen. For me, the best way to step back from the obsessive cycle of affirmation craving is to be loving. Not loved.
If my job is to love people, rather than constantly searching for proof that I am loved, I feel powerful. Big. Whole. Capable of loving others — giving the hugs, sending the love notes, doing the kind thing. More capable of loving myself, because there’s so much of the good stuff floating around.
Besides, love yourself and the world loves you back. But not once has the world managed to fit itself into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
Amber Adrian is a writer with a weird affection for pandas and exclamatory punctuation. Her affection for paperback novels and green juice is totally normal. She writes web copy, essays for recovering perfectionists, love letters and the occasional haiku.
Photo credit: Meaghan