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Obsession with Food: Part 2

It is my belief that addiction is birthed from the unhealthy attempt to fulfill one or more of the following conditions:

A desperation to be loved

A search for safety

An urgency to connect

A longing for equilibrium

A need to fill a void

An escape from pain

In 1982, my mother and I emigrated from Haiti to live with my grandparents in the Bronx.  I was 2.  And it was there that the first of my memories were unveiled. 

I remembered snippets of winter time, the torment of feeling stuffed in my snowsuit and taking a padded tumble down the stairs in said coat.

I recall that my grandmother was the one maternal grandparent who showed me compassion.  She was my constant travel companion-with her I was guaranteed two things if I threw a big enough tantrum: candy and at least one kiddie ride. 

And though she was toxic in other ways, I am grateful for the seeds of love she was able to sprinkle on me.  She helped to cultivate what would have been a soul barren of empathy, affection or gentleness.

I also remember my grandfather-he terrified me, with his  jarring voice and rough demeanor.  His presence caused my heart grave distress, so I avoided him whenever possible. 

Memories of my mother are interesting, she is indistinguishably connected to feelings of acute  restless and agitation within me.  I was never comfortable around her and certainly not content. 

Instead, I was stuck in the constant hopes of one day becoming good enough, enough, or just graze the vicinity of enough-ness to be acknowledged by her in a positive way.

Hoping that the day would arrive when I’d finally sit still enough , fidget enough, misbehave or behave pristinely enough to catch her fancy. 

And my gift would be her smile, her adoration, the sparkle of warmth in her eyes.  Those signs of approval were at the core of my world...the prize I never seemed able to earn. 

Most-if not all-children have built in eyes to see our mothers as beauty.  Because despite the feelings of distraught that she brought to surface, my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world to me.  Her hair coiffed perfectly and she dressed just so.  I wanted to bask in the light of her magnetic mystery. 

So, by the age of four I was addicted to the empty thrill of chasing love the love of my mother.  Desperate to one day win it.  I was hooked to the idea of pleasing my mother in the off chance that she would see me and see that finally, I deserved to be loved. 

How could I know that was not how love was intended to be demonstrated? 

This non-display of love left an impressionable breach in my heart

A desperation to be loved

A search for safety

An urgency to connect

A longing for equilibrium

A filling of voids

An escape from pain

In 1984 my mother, her new husband and I began a new life in Brooklyn.  Normally one would use terms such as settled into a new life, or commenced a new routine or pattern of living.  No...ours was disjointed-especially from my mother’s end-she wasn’t one to dialogue with me.  So one day I was in the Bronx, the next, I was in Brooklyn with my mother and her new husband and so our lives overlapped via cohabitation.

My new parent and I, however, eventually settled into a routine.  He would pick me up after school and walk too fast so I’d have to jog to keep up with him.  He would help me with my homework, he read me books, he played all kinds of music. 

After school we would watch TJ Hooker, Magnum P.I. and Jeopardy.  On the weekends we would watch wrestling and Kung Fu movies.  He was the first adult at home that I had fun with and he easily became my favorite person overall.  I preferred his presence much over the insecure tension that my mother casted my way.

Which is why on the day he called out to me, in a tone that I didn’t recognize-I still went. 

Because there was no one I trusted more. 

Instinctively, though, I hesitated

...Sensing that something was off...

And though it was I who stepped through the door, I could not have imagined what I’d lose after he crossed that threshold.

IG @thesassyrachel