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Prolonging the Pleasure - An Evolutionary Tale

by J.T.

Home I trekked after a meaningful and stimulating introduction to the June 3-5 Overcoming Overeating Weekend Workshop organized by Carol and Jane. Shortly after participating in dyads to identify the areas where we feel our eating is stuck, it was time to adjourn for the evening. Somewhere churning about in my unconscious was a connection to my dyad partner's description of her love of ice cream.

Not hungry, but craving some mouth experience, I supplied myself with a pint of creamy Häagen-Dazs ice cream as I entered my home. (Only one, you may ask?) Yes, just one. I ate some of it, put the rest away and then went to bed.

After I told this experience to the group Saturday, Jane helped me make the connection between not wanting the Friday evening event to end and trying to keep the interesting and pleasurable part of the experiences I had with me when I went home. Eating the ice cream was a way to stay with the earlier part of the evening by putting it inside of me.

There are for me (and others?) certain foods like ice cream where the sensual experience in the eating is very significant. On Saturday when I was hungry, I found a similar experience in eating soft bagels with cream cheese and sweet jelly. Something like warm strawberry ice cream? Throughout the weekend this was my comfort food that I ate when I had stomach hunger.

Saturday evening posed similar anxieties, but what I had already learned allowed me to consider advocating in my best interest. I now knew that I probably didn't want the evening to end and I didn't want to lose my connection to all the other women. I considered a movie… too lonely. I considered walking… not safe and I had too much stuff to carry anyway. As I started walking out of the hotel, I passed the hotel restaurant and saw two of the women sitting down at a table. Should I join them? I wasn't hungry. Is that what I wanted to do? It felt right and I asked if they would mind my joining them for a drink. They seemed pleased to have my company and we talked about our common experiences and our excitement about what we were learning at the weekend workshop.

The conversation satiated me and a tired me left my new friends and returned to my place for the remainder of the night. I had been able to stay with the events of the day until I was more ready to leave. I could stay with the feelings of pleasure without food. Conversation (something of a mouth experience) and company were alternatives to ice cream.

As soon as I arrived for the final session on Sunday morning I was aware of preparing for the inevitable end of the conference. If ice cream doesn't work and my new found friends are going their own way, how will I take care of myself? More cream cheese and jelly seemed like the right match once again. I prepared my new favorite food early on so that even if I got caught up in the emotion of the ending of the weekend I would still be prepared to take care of myself in a sweet, nurturing, carefully prepared way when I was hungry again.

I was now ready to leave… my food bag restocked with something that represented an important part of the weekend for me. Interestingly enough, perhaps because I anticipated my needs and took care of myself, I was able to do some of the emotional work that led me to some personal breakthroughs during this last session.

The weekend over, the lessons many. New knowledge about myself and others, a far greater personal acceptance and acceptance of others. The critical voice is quiet now as I write this; I have a real voice that seems somehow more powerful to me now, as if I were discovering it for the first time. I can use it to communicate and to connect. And I have a new passion! Cream cheese and jelly, mine wherever and whenever I am hungry for it—a reminder of a poignant and sweet time passed.

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