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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