Oh sugar, honey honey
you are my candy
and you got me wanting you
I’ve wanted you for as long as I remember. At six, my stubby fingers got whacked each time I smacked my lips after stealing one of Aunt Pauline’s mint-frosted brownies. The grown-ups slapped my chubby hand and said, “You’ll get fat.” So we’ve had a clandestine affair for –oh, maybe–sixty years. Meeting in our secret spots–bakeries, coffee shops–filled me for a while. We sneaked around behind closed doors. I hid you in my bedroom , crumbs under the covers. Over time, the guilt, the shame trumped the ecstasy of our flavorful orgies.
But I see the truth: fulfillment once cherished from teeny nibbles was a saccharine surrogate for real love the chunky girl sought. Seduced, I settled for substitute sweetness. Now I’m starved for a real meal. No: more than that. I want to dig into heaping helpings of life’s banquet. I’m tired of looking for love in all the wrong places; the refrigerator, the cupboard. I can no longer portion-control life for tidbits of you.
So, sugar, sugar, honey, honey, as much as I savor our song, we must break up. It’s not that I don’t love you. I do. Every night after a tryst, my enamored mind draws back to you, chews on our intimacy. I shouldn’t’ve. We could’ve. If only. I want. I need.
We’re not good for each other. The longer we stay hooked, the less I resist your bright lollipop colors and delicacies with names like Blue Berry Bliss. The pain of hearing your voice cry out to me fuels my desire for desserts. One lick is too many, a thousand not enough.
Oh, how I used to long for those lush nights with flourless Chocolate Suicide Cake. You treated me to yummy, rich just-one-more fudgy moments. The craving called and I embraced your creamy charms. You let me down when your lusciousness left. Our dysfunctional communication has crumbled, our enmeshment a slow socially-approved suicide indeed.
Now instead I yearn for soul treats. In the past, I swirled Ben and Jerry’s. Today I’d like to order a serving, a swirl, of real excitement. I covet a deep sensual experience, but your shallow recipes for satisfaction fail me. You lie, and I believe you, that our pleasure could last, as if fleeting indulgences could soothe life’s sour edges permanently. You enable me with each kiss, juices flowing between us. After a quick bite, two-faced, you betray me. You hint at happiness, then desert me. My bloated belly and visceral urge for more expose your ruse.
Inseparable in our abusive relationships, we keep coming back. We beg. I succumbed to the taffy-like pull of your advances. I hoped that this time you’d be nice to me. Maybe this time I won’t hurt. But then I caught you flirting with others, cheating on me, hustling children, babies too.
Will you still love me tomorrow? You always answer no. Are my urges toward you co-dependent? Yes. I hunt the house for you, even at breakfast many days. What happened to my lover, my feast? At night your stashes are full, empty at dawn. And I feel empty too. How many times do we need to break up, get back together and break up again before I resist temptation, before I feel good about, “no thank you?”
As my friend Dulcie said, “what you really want clearly is not Sugar or you would not have been at war with her all these years. You would have just married her and been quiet about it like all the unhappily married people.”
We never married but since we went too far, the ache in my gut is palpable. Lovers remorse. Sweetness, you have left a bitter after-taste. I will miss you at first. As I grieve, I won’t know life’s bounty right away. Everything in me will still mistake “good” and “plenty” with licorice candies, will confuse comfort with cookies. But once unstuck, I won’t reach for dark brown Valentine’s hearts wrapped in shiny tin foil. I will hunger instead for true hearts and wrap myself in life’s abundance. Those are the ingredients in friendship with myself. And self-friendship has the taste of freedom .
(Susan Young’s book FOOD FIX: ANCIENT NOURISHMENT FOR MODERN HUNGERS offers more stories and antidotes to what she calls “food frenzy.” )