It’s midnight. You’re at home and it’s happening again!
The kitchen is quiet and still, except for the faint hum of the refrigerator.
You crack the door open, without even meaning to do it—as if some other power is forcing your hand.
Yellow light spills out onto your face, as you search. If you pretend, it’s almost like sunlight, warming your skin.
I see the contents peeking at you, mocking you.
Blocks of cheese. Pints of ice cream. The leftovers you told yourself you’d save for tomorrow.
In fact, you’re really not that hungry. Not physically, anyway. Not even a little bit.
And yet, you’re drawn to the glow like a moth to a flame and can’t pull yourself away.
Because, in a different way, you are hungry. Beyond hungry.
Your heart is twisting inside-out with hunger.
It’s a bottomless hunger that absolutely nothing can fill.
Except for one thing.
The one that…just perhaps…you haven’t yet learned how to give yourself yet.
In the absence of love, we binge. Clearing out jars and emptying containers into my stomach, looking for the love we don’t even know we’re looking for. We don’t know anything anymore. Except for how good it feels to be soothed by food. A little bit of relief, a temporary fullness that quiets the harsh chattering in our minds and stuffs down our uncomfortable feelings. For a while, anyway. Long enough to fall asleep, telling ourselves that tomorrow will be different.
But of course … it won’t.
This was Dr. Suzanne Gelb’s nightly reality, for so many painful years.
“Years spent alone, unable to trust myself, unable to change, unable to comprehend why—with all of my intelligence—I was still drawn to that sickly yellow light in the kitchen, every night.”
Until one night, she’d had enough.
And even though her psyche raged at her, like a child throwing a tantrum, demanding the overabundance of food that she’d been feeding that child for so long, that night, she said, “Not tonight.”
She decided to try feeding herself in a different way, and like a mother speaking to her child, she asked herself.
“What are you hungry for, deep down? What does your hungry heart need?”
Her inner child (the part of us that is often ‘starving’) fussed and fretted, for a few moments.
But ultimately, the truth came out.
Touch – Comfort – Connection – Safety – Security – Kindness - Love.
All of these come down to love; for others…but more importantly…love for ourselves!
So she chose, just once, to feed her hungry heart with love, instead of food.
How in world did she do that?
By a simply self-hug, dear reader. A quiet walk. A moment of stillness. A few kind words spoken to yourself in the mirror.
“Just once” can turn into “twice.” Then “a few times a month,” “a few times a week,” and finally, “every night.”
Of course it takes time. Everything that is truly valuable takes time. Learning to love and respect ourselves is not a 6-week course, a snap decision, or a sudden revelation.
We slip. We fall. We binge again - and then again, even when we think we are “done” with all of that.
But like a mother drying her daughter’s cheeks and wrapping her in a warm hug after a nasty tumble, she kept making the choice of living herself, and yes…it is a choice we can make!
We forgive ourselves.
And do you know what happened to Dr. Gelb? The bingeing just … stopped … forever.
Because for the first time in her life, she felt full, and now she supports others who are facing the same binging.
And while reading this article isn’t a substitute for counseling and coaching, you can begin to turn away from that tantalizing refrigerator light—and into the light of love—with one simple question:
“What does my hungry heart really need?”
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available on line at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.