Every trip to the supermarket is like a visit to the House of Horrors. The moment I step through that automatic door, lit up like a Broadway stage by dozens of bright fluorescent lights, the demon in my head screams “CHOCOLATE!” It makes no difference if I have gone there to buy laundry powder of one of those thingamijiggies that fits over the end of the doobilacky, that evil harridan is inside my mind having a super-size tantrum, beating her fists against the fragile walls of my broken mind and making demands that are harder to resist with each breathless step into the cavernous den of temptation.
“CHOCOLATE!” she shrieks, getting her friends to echo the call, howling in my skull. I head into the dog-food aisle to get away. It’s like taking an alcoholic to the liquor store: heart racing, short breaths, clenched teeth, balled fists, sweaty brow, limbs quivering. And then, transported by some mysterious magnetic force that I do not understand, I somehow find myself staring at an entire wall filled from floor to ceiling with caramel drops and cherry coconut bars, dark rum and raisin chocolate bars, and packets of gooey rocky road. I don’t remember how I arrived here. The dog-food aisle is at the other end of the supermarket.
Multi-colored bars and blocks of chocolate beckon me to try them; a whole planet of mouth-watering flavors seductively calls out my name. The rich aroma of chocolate engulfs me. My brain begins an automatic shut-down. All around me, chocolate calls and beckons, blowing kisses and wiggling like sexy pole-dancers with suggestive flicks of their shiny wrappers. I’m frozen to the spot, unable to fight or flee. I won’t say yes, but I can’t say no. It’s not the monsters under the bed I am most afraid of, it’s the monsters in my head.
“CHOCOLATE!” screeches the wild pack, a cacophony of shrill voices, all beating down my resolve. Drowning inside the murky pit of depression, my defenses are weak and I struggle to fight them off. Chocolate-coated peanuts dance a Can-Can in front of my eyes. I’m tempted to throw myself on the floor, face buried in my arms and cry, “No! No! No! No! No! No!” but the supermarket’s security would probably have me arrested. How would I explain that to the police?
“Well, officer, I was trying to escape the demons. They wanted me to buy chocolate.”
Right. Transported post-haste to the psych-ward in a straight-jacket by men in white coats. Then, an evaluation, where my dirty little secret will become public knowledge.
“She has a mental illness,” people will whisper conspiratorially as I pass.
Actually, I have three mental illnesses, and I’m not too concerned about who finds out, but that is neither here nor there. Right now, I’m in hell. I’m fighting for my life, trying to stop them from dragging me into the abyss with depression-inducing chocolate. Or am I? Is chocolate the real problem? When I can eat an entire 200g block in under half an hour, it could be. But how is this so? What is it about chocolate that causes it to be so devastatingly addictive? Sugar. That ugly albino beast rears its ugly head and roars:
“You NEED me!”
Still on the verge of panic, I back out of the aisle cautiously, as if backing away from a pack of wild howling dogs. The sugar-addicted demons in my head go berserk, pounding at my mind to go back and pick up a handful of shimmering packets. Soft truffle centers catch my eye. I spin on my heel and run. Out of breath, I find myself in the health-food aisle. I stop right in front of a paper bag stating that its contents include 100% organic cacao beans. No sugar. There is a picture on the front of a fresh yellow cacao pod, split in two to reveal the beans inside. I grab it and race to the check out.
Once in the car, I collapse into a heap, tears coursing down my face. I feel as if I’ve just had one of those terrible heart-wrenching passive-aggressive fights that occur frequently within an unhealthy relationship. I arrive home exhausted from the trip. As I unpack eco-friendly laundry liquid, rock salt and a pack of life-saving cacao beans, I resolve to end it. Munching on cacao beans, I feel stronger and more determined to succeed. I’m also getting the chocolate hit my body wanted, without the paralyzing guilt and self-loathing attached. Cool beans!
Just like that boyfriend who beat me up all those years ago, I swore I would never see the supermarket again. It’s too harrowing. All that shimmering and glimmering in your face, pretending to be your bestest friend and then dragging you down into a festering wound of bleak negativity and self-annihilation. And after all that, they tell you it’s your own stupid fault. It’s time to break up with the supermarket. It’s not that difficult actually, when I consider the number of times I’ve walked out of there feeling as if I’ve survived yet another emotional massacre. It’s much the same as when you know the relationship ended a while back, and now you finally have the fortitude to walk away.
The following day, there is a Farmer’s Market nearby. It’s love at first sight. The beginning of a new, healthy relationship. Let’s see how this goes… so far, it all feels pretty good!