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Published January 28, 2014, 05:07 PM

50/50: Sweet temptations can’t fill the void of past hurts

I was just sitting there reading my new Sue Monk Kidd when it hit me. It started as a small golf ball in my belly, then grew until my whole stomach felt open and invisible. I got up and went into the kitchen when it hit full force.

By: Susie Ekberg Risher, INFORUM

I was just sitting there reading my new Sue Monk Kidd when it hit me. It started as a small golf ball in my belly, then grew until my whole stomach felt open and invisible. I got up and went into the kitchen when it hit full force.

I was afraid I was going to hurt someone unless I could eat a giant 100 K Bar. You know, the movie kind that are only 180 calories for one serving, but 10,000 calories if you eat the whole bar (and you know you’ll eat the whole bar)?

I opened the pantry doors and looked at its contents. Oatmeal, raisins, dried blueberries, quinoa. OK, I might make it. We’ve taken most everything unhealthy out of the house already, although Hubby has been known to smuggle in some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup and chocolate Haagen-Dazs.

Up to this point there have probably been 100 chances to stop myself from eating my first sugar in three weeks. I haven’t had any sugar cravings for a long time so this surprises me. I decide to stay conscious if I can. I take a deep breath and do what any sane person would do: post on Facebook for support.

“Talk me off the ledge – tell me why I shouldn’t do this – HELP!!!” And my friends came through.

Maggie gave me some powerful advice: “stay the course. Keep focused. Remember why you’re doing this ...” Cyndi gave me a recipe that included coconut oil, cocoa and Stevia, so I grabbed onto that like a fat rat on a rope on a sinking ship.

I opened the pantry door again to find the coconut oil and then I saw it: a big canister of Chocolate Toffee from Costco. Dang you and your Costco run, Stevie! I shake my fist at the ceiling. But I persevere and then reach down to pull out the cocoa and find … oh no – SERIOUSLY – a jar of marshmallow creme!

Is this a joke? Seriously, God, are you just up there laughing your head off at the absurdity of this scene? I push the creme aside and grab the cocoa. I melt the oil and mix everything together and try just a lick, and I want to say that I love you Cyndi, but … ew.

Maybe I didn’t add enough Stevia? It tastes like the inside of my old tennis shoe (don’t ask me how I would know what that tastes like). So I’m trying and failing at satisfying my craving.

I drink a tall glass of lemon water, hop onto the treadmill and dance walk through Pink, Maroon 5, and the guys who sing “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.” But here’s what interested me the most throughout this whole ordeal.

If my previous life were a river on a certain course, I have spent the past few weeks re-directing my river’s course. But in that moment, some energy was seriously pulling me back toward that unhealthy destructive course, and I think that if I can figure out the emotion behind it, maybe I can heal it once and for all. Otherwise those same cravings are probably going to emerge at another time and I may not be so strong.

I told my therapist the story, then admitted sheepishly that my three favorite workout songs are all highly inappropriate but I just can’t stop singing them (and no I’m not going to tell you what they are – you’ll think I’m a horrible person).

She suggested I sit with the symbolism of why I might be attracted to those particular songs and some real healing came out around my childhood feelings of being seen in a certain hurtful light, of being called names that are overall very hurtful to the whole female population, of not feeling that I can be my slim healthy self because then I could start attracting the wrong type of energy into my life.

So on the surface I may know that’s not true, but tell that to my stomach in her frantic search to fill up the void that gets created when I’m afraid or feel vulnerable, especially in light of these amazing changes in my life.

So to that sweet void in my stomach that opens up from time to time, I tell you, “it’s all right. You deserve to be healthy and happy, and strong and fit. Whatever happened in the past is in the past and this moment is a fresh new time.”

And I imagine that the hole then starts to close, bit by bit, until I no longer have tunnel vision toward the toffee. My palms aren’t sweating, and I can relax back into my life river’s new course, whole once again.

Susie Ekberg Risher is a writer living in Fargo. Follow her on a yearlong journey to lose 50 pounds – half through emotional work and half through physical effort.