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  • jjohnsongrove

My Secret Habit of Downing Cookies and Coke Every Day


I want you to know that I understand what is it like to carry secrets and habits that you’d rather not think about…

When I first moved to Cincinnati 10 years ago, loneliness would fall upon my shoulders like a heavy weight every morning. I would wake up and after eating breakfast I would take my 20-month old daughter and we would get in the car and zoom our way over to Target. The first thing I would do would be to go in the Target snack line and buy 3 large chocolate chip cookies and a super-size Coke. This was my routine every weekday while my husband was at work.

What was so special about Target? I wanted to be where there were other moms and women around me doing some sort of life endeavor, even if it was simply buying toilet paper or cleaning products for the home. I saw that they were about the same thing I was which was taking care of life and striving to make it work.

I didn’t talk to any of these women; I simply enjoyed being around my fellow shoppers while guzzling Coke and munching on my little pile of cookies. Somehow simply being in their presence softened my loneliness. My sugar surge and mouth full of fizzy bubbles would help to numb my loneliness. Movement, shiny products, sugar…a perfect go-to to hide away my deeper pain for a little bit of time each morning.

Once I was done at Target, I would head home to the silence of my home and the emptiness of my relational connections. Where was I ever going to find good conversation? Where would I find people who would listen to the mundane details of my life and with whom I could laugh? Where to find anything that seemed freakin’ meaningful, joyful, and full of connection?

This was not an easy problem to solve and many afternoons I would need to head over to Subway to get their deal for another 3 cookies and another super-size Coke. Night time? Well, if things were bad, I would go to the local grocery and get the 2 dozen-cookie special to munch away in the car before I got home so my husband wouldn’t catch me.

Oh, the hunger was so deep, so strong. I wanted that sugar. I wanted to numb the pain. I was feverishly running away from the loneliness staring at me in the face anytime the sugar high faded. I was internally spinning in confusion as to how to make my life better.

I wanted to taste the sweetness of life.

I wanted to find friends, deeper connection in my alienated marriage, to figure out how to parent my child with whom I didn’t know how to be fully present and give my heart to. Sugar was my solace, my companion, my fake source of fulfillment. Always waiting to be with me, present everywhere I went, always on my mind, the most loyal of friends in my hidden and silent pain.

Would a nutrition plan help me in this time? Would more self-will resolve my sugar escapades? Would reading and learning more about the evils of sugar help me slow down and relieve me of my desire to consume and consume and consume in a blind effort to exit my troubled days? Absolutely not. Trust me, I tried. I tried reading educational materials to convince myself. I tried eating more at meals to stop the hunger-crave arising. My internal dialogue was full of self-deprecating thoughts about how sinful I was and how little self-control I had.

Lack of knowledge, small meals, or lack of self-control were not the problem.

The sugar was fulfilling a need and until that need was met, the sugar would remain in its full force serving me fully.

Years have since passed, friendships have formed, therapy has helped, and looking at the spaces in my heart that prevented me from loving fully and receiving love fully have been faced. Healing started and the intense cravings for sugar would subside. At times, I would find myself in a well of loneliness again and my faithful companion, sugar, would emerge as a strong presence in my life. Back and forth and up and down…healing, growth, spiraling backwards, stepping forward. This is what the healing journey has been for me. Messy, non-linear….but ultimately so fulfilling. Digging deep I have found what my soul was really aching for in those moments I attempted to fill that soul and body space with sugar.

My beautiful friend, I want you to know that any struggle you are facing with food, relationships, or other places in your life is the entry point for deeper healing to occur. This is where life is deeply at work. This is the place seeking to get your attention. It is asking you to lean in to face what is at work so that you can be freed from anything negative. And…ultimately…to find your joy, renewed passion and full expression for this life.

This is your calling.

Can you relate? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.


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I look forward to connecting with you. -Janelle

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