My husband was away last weekend, so off I went, farmer’s market basket in hand, alone for our Saturday morning ritual. After filling my basket with fresh organic vegetables, pasture raised meat and Anna Mae’s jam, I stopped at our favorite bake shop table for the bread my husband loves. While there, I scanned the cookies and chose an oatmeal chocolate chip. These are not your average sized cookies, they are enormous. Each one is easily shared and enough for three with tea. I knew my husband would be surprised and pleased that I was so thoughtful.
Before I go on with my story, a little background. I consider myself a foodie. Not the type who is constantly trying new gourmet recipes with unusual ingredients, though I do that on occasion. I am more the gourmand. I have been and can still be obsessed with food. Recovery is a daily process and takes both vigilance and a huge dose of self-compassion. I’m a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, which means I reached my lifetime goal [about a decade ago] and attend meetings for free provided I stay within 2 pounds of my goal. My structure for vigilance. Then there’s my husband, Win. Win likes good food, but he is not a foodie. While I stay alive to eat, he eats to stay alive! He needs to eat extra calories [and chooses mostly healthy ones] during the day to keep weight ON, while I’m concerned about keeping it OFF.
Back to the cookie. Win got home Sunday morning and was delighted with the cookie and then promptly forgot it, reaching for healthier afternoon snacks over the next two days. Tuesday afternoon arrived and this huge cookie, now stale, sat in it’s waxed paper bag, forlorn and forgotten, except by me. I suggested sprinkling it with a few drops of water and heating in the microwave for a few seconds. It worked. Win ate half the cookie. Well, not quite half. I had nibbles from around the crusty edges, yum!
Fast forward to late afternoon Wednesday. The cookie, now four days old, sits and stares at me from the counter while I chop vegetables for soup. My pulse increases as I begin to feel anger about the stupid cookie.
I said: Your cookie is still sitting here. He said: I forgot all about it. I said: Well, maybe I’ll eat the damn cookie. Incredulous, he said: Really? I said: Really. I fumed; he went outside.
I began an old pattern. I ate AROUND the cookie. I ate grapes, then hit the pantry for some “healthy” crackers. Next I grabbed Win’s reduced fat potato chips. I took a small handful. Good thing there weren’t many left. I looked at the cookie and finally opened it and ate 1/3 of the remaining half. There. I was done and wish I had just eaten the damn cookie at the onset of my food meltdown.
I was crabby. Win asked: what’s up? I shared my meltdown over a glass of wine — Win’s glass of wine, I abstained. I felt ashamed and angry, mostly at myself, and I needed to figure out my overreaction to this stupid uneaten cookie. As I told my story about buying the cookie as a thoughtful gesture, something deeper emerged. I shared that I hadn’t REALLY bought the cookie for HIM, I bought it for ME! You see I could never justify eating an entire cookie so enormous and luscious, it would be my Weight Watchers points for the whole day, but I could justify nibbles. I would count them, of course, as a small chocolate chip cookie, maybe 3 points. As is our ritual, whenever Win gets a treat on our Saturday morning at the farmer’s market, I indulge in a nibble and it is heavenly!
Win listened from the heart, but couldn’t relate. As I shared, he’s not a foodie.
We talked more about what I noticed, that gift giving isn’t just for the receiver — the giver always gets something out of it. Whether it’s writing a check for a cause, purchasing a birthday gift that you hope the receiver will love, or buying an expensive gift for a couple whose wedding you don’t plan on attending — the giver always get something out of it! The donation feels like the right thing to do; the birthday gift warms the giver’s heart to see the delight of the recipient; the extravagant wedding gift alleviates the guilt of skipping the wedding. Then it hit me and I said: Think of when you purchase a lovely piece of jewelry for me, you want to see me wear it! It feels good, it warms your heart. He nodded yes. Or a red silk nightie. Though it feels fabulous on, the gift giver gets to see it on. My visual husband nodded again, yes. He got it!
I awakened at 5 AM with this blog brewing. I’m able to share the story only because I’ve reached a new level of understanding, self-acceptance and compassion. I love my perfectly imperfect human self. I am deeply grateful for the abundance of my life that I can even obsess over a cookie. And grateful that I can find humor in the process.