There it sits on the plate. It looks lonely, like it needs a friend to just be there, to appreciate it. And I so want to be that friend. I’ve been staring at it for a while now, my eyes locked in on it, wanting it for my own. Hoping that there has been enough time since the last one, and that no one else will want it, I send up a silent prayer before asking the all important question.
“Does anyone else want the last cookie?”
And I fervently hope no one does because I’ve already imagined how it’s going to taste on my tongue. And I don’t discriminate either, you know, unless it has peanut butter in it, because peanut butter is not a favorite of mine. Otherwise, I am all over it in a heartbeat. Then I feel ashamed because I just had one ten minutes ago, and I had a couple more ten minutes before that. Hell, I probably ate about half the box today.
That’s when I know I’m stressed, when I’m polishing off the last of the cookie crumbs, licking them off my fingers and turning the box over to see if a lost one will find its way back home. Then I’m looking in the cabinet, hoping there is another box somewhere in there so the ride doesn’t have to end. But nothing is there and I can feel the tears start to well up in my eyes, knowing I shouldn’t feel this way about cookies but not being able to help myself regardless. I feel so hopeless, and I let the tears come.
That’s when cookies aren’t just cookies. They become the epitome of comfort food, something I use to try and fill the empty place inside, to refocus my thoughts instead of wallowing in my stressors. When I just can’t take the overwhelming mountain of negative feelings inside of me, the crushing sense of self-defeat, I turn to the one thing that has always been there for me.
Back when I was a teenager with a metabolism that just wouldn’t quit, there didn’t seem go be any drawbacks to this type of therapy. It was an easy fix, as long as there were cookies around, and as long as I didn’t have to pay for them. But as I’ve gotten older and my metabolism has shifted in the other direction, I go through “heavy” phases when I eat too many of those delicious treats, which adds to the cycle of stress and even more eating. At times like those, I just want to curl up in a bowl and let the world go on without me.
I don’t know why it’s cookies, either. I mean, some people go to ice cream, others to chips, and still more to candy. But me, I’m a cookie man, and I always have been. From chocolate chip, to sugar, to oatmeal raisin, and beyond, I stockpile cookies like there’s going to be an apocalypse and they will save me from it. I need help.
And I hear that’s the first step, acknowledging that I have a problem. Now, if I could only afford a shrink.