Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chocolate Covered Loneliness

It just started off as a simple scoop of 'half the fat' Fudge Tracks ice cream.

Innocent enough.

But a Hershey syrup bottle tempted from the refrigerator rack.

And container of Carmel left over from a birthday was immediately next to it compelling me to add it to the mix.

Then a liberal sprinkling of mini baking semi-sweet chocolate chips topped what was supposed to be a small treat but rapidly evolving into a caloric nightmare.

Before I could consider adding some mini-marshmallows I’d bought to accompany hot chocolate from the previous snowy week, I stopped to look at the loaded down dish of decadence before me. What was I doing?

I’d wandered into the kitchen looking for…something and wound up with a bowl containing enough dessert to feed several people my size.

Is this what I’d wanted when I came to the kitchen? I brought a spoonful to my mouth and savored the different rich flavors and textures. The cold sweetness filled my mouth and overwhelmed my senses for a moment. As it slipped down the back of my throat I paused. Waiting.

No. This was admittedly good, but not what I was looking for. I stood there for a few moments rolling around in my head various alternatives. What did I want?

After nearly half a lifetime of clean, healthy living, I’m pretty in tune with what my body does and doesn’t like and what it’s asking me for when I get a feeling something is missing or not quite right.

The Carmely-chocolate concoction sat like a cold rock in my stomach. I wasn’t even hungry. But I was looking for a sensation that feels a bit like being full and getting a sugar rush.

A few moments later it dawned on me.

Love. I was wanting to feel loved.

Scientist have known quite a while now that chocolate contains three chemicals that release “feel good” sensations in the brain. Theobromine, Caffeine and Phenylethylamine all give the body a quick push of feeling perked up, content, energetic and an excitement similar to the sensations felt when falling in love.

Foods and substances are so chronically used to self-medicate by people who are lonely, depressed, unhappy or single it’s a complete cliche. I’m not sure why it was surprising to identify that in myself.

I put the bowl down. After identifying the problem I could think of two better alternatives to a chocolate binge. And alternatives that wouldn’t wreck hazard on the proper fit of my sexy wardrobe.

First, I needed to get some adrenaline. Now!

Physically demanding activities (such as manual labor and exercise) and dangerous sports (like white river rafting and sky diving) also release feel good chemicals into the brain that stimulate and temporarily satisfy a need for that elusive something I identified as feeling loved.

Statistics show that people who are very physically active tend to crave salty foods instead of sweet ones. Since they're sweating and need to replenish their body's salt levels and they're getting a regular dose of adrenaline which could replace a need for chocolate, it makes sense.

The second thing? I needed to find someone to bestow attention on. Since I'm not in a relationship and don't have that connected regular feeling of giving and getting love with a romantic partner, I needed to strengthen the feelings with someone else in my life. A friend or a family member perhaps.

I needed to find someone to connect with using my top one or two Love Languages so I could feel loving and loved. And since I've already identified my order of The Five Love Languages, it wasn't hard to figure out how to make that happen.

I headed off to the gym after making a few phone calls to set up some plans.

Thank goodness I'm an educated, cerebral person who can identify my own problems and then deal with them appropriately in productive and effective ways.

If not, I have a feeling my solution to wanting to feel loved would have entailed devouring that bowl of chocolate covered loneliness and then buying a cat.

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