I Am Having an Emotional Affair

We aren’t, you know, doing anything. Not now, anyway.

But I can’t stop thinking about it.

And sometimes, late at night when I’m the only one awake in the house, I wander back and forth, from living room to kitchen to front window and back again, torturing myself with how easy it would be to just give in.

heart-shaped-chocolate-raspberry-cakes-recipe_09I am having an emotional affair with food.

I have a tawdry past with food, and like many tawdry pasts, it started in childhood. My dad was obese and close to a compulsive eater. But he was a decent dad, and in his mind, that meant not “selfishly” eating in front of his little girl unless she was eating, too. “Aren’t you a little hungry?” he would ask me, hopefully. “Maybe just for a little something?”

I loved my dad, and I wasn’t hungry. But I knew he wanted me to say yes, so I would. And then I would sit with him and we would eat crackers and cheese I didn’t want, or ice cream, or pizza. Eventually, over the years, I didn’t know whether I was hungry or not, I just ate with him, and with everybody else, too, because eating had become all balled up with companionship and loyalty. Eating is what you did with the people you cared about. Food, and the sharing of it, was love.

When I first moved in with my boyfriend back in college, I started, at some point, cooking dinners. I didn’t usually ask him what he wanted, I just served it up and he ate it. But one night, when I announced dinner was ready, he said, barely looking up from his book, “I’m not hungry. You go ahead.”

It sounds ridiculous, but I was as shocked as if he’d slapped me or announced he was leaving me for a marsupial. I refused to eat any of it myself, slamming pots and pans around the kitchen and putting it all into Tupperware, all the while feeling aggrieved and sorry for myself. My boyfriend knew he’d done something to upset me, but the poor thing couldn’t for the life of him figure out what. “It smells great, I’ll eat some of it later,” he offered tentatively from the doorway, but I just shot him a wounded look. I didn’t care if he ate it or not. What I cared about was the act of eating it with me.

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saying yes, maggie mcreynolds

Trusting Yourself to Say YES

I’ve been talking to more women than I ever expected about my Ready to Ripen program. I’ve touched a chord, it’s clear, and that thrills me.

But the program isn’t what this is about, except to say that in the course of talking to these women, it’s striking to me that almost all of them are reaching out because they want to say yes.

But most of them are saying no.

This isn’t self-aggrandizing delusion (perhaps I’ll make that next week’s newsletter). I’ve been self-employed and as such offering my writing and coaching services for most of my adult life. I really do know the difference between a disinterested no and yearning regret.

“I would so love to do this,” one woman tells me. “I think this program would be perfect for me,” says another. “OMG this is SO what I need!” writes a third.

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Women in Purple

The Power of Purple—and Spitting

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
~ Jenny Joseph

The above bit of loveliness is oft-quoted, especially the first two lines, and held up as an example of the blessings of aging: we can do whatever the heck we want.

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