“How about some chicken wings / Do you want some fish and grits / I’ll hurry and go get it / Whatever” – Whatever x Jill Scott
Here’s a positive memory of me and my pops:
We’re sitting in front of the living room TV. It’s so hot outside that the fake grass mat on the front stoop is melting. We’ve got two fans sending us warm air as we feast on lunch.
And yes, feast is the correct word. My dad ordered an Italian sub with the works – including hots. Plus a large bottle of Coke.
Plus a Tastykake butterscotch krimpet.
Plus some chips.
Teenage me has the same except for Mountain Dew and far less ingredients on my sandwich.
In South Jersey, our subs came on off-white butcher paper that takes up way more space than it should when spread out. So, there we are, eating food atop too much paper, and stuffing ourselves with way too many carbs while watching B.E.T.
This was our fishing trip.
Our hike in the woods. Our playing catch in the front yard.
I really miss afternoons like that.
Devoid of any elements of our troubled and tumultuous relationship that would land me in years of rehabilitation. I miss that version of my father.
My wife and I are putting our grocery list together. These days food shopping is met with a lot of anger and frustration because shelves are bare and everybody and their uncle is on a french toast binge (like what else are people doing with all that bread, milk, and eggs?).
I’m perusing the healthy items on our list and smiling at how proud I’d be making my nutritionist. But, there are many sides to hunger, just like there are many sides to coping.
Despair has really set in at this point. As far as staying updated goes, I only listen to short NPR snippets a few times a day, but working retail reminds me of how bleak things are out in these streets.
I’ve grown more and more accustomed to strangers appearing to be dressed in cheap ninja costumes, but my fear has grown as well.
So, when it’s time to fill our fridge again, I’m adding the things I turn to when anxiety is winning. Give me chips, salsa, queso, pop tarts, Eggos, fried everything, greasy everything, the sugary of the sugariest.
It’s been two weeks of this.
Of me hitting up the store every other day and grabbing just a few more items we didn’t need. Me blowing through those tiny boxes of sugary cereal that come in a pack, because it’s what “Ineed to get through nights like this.”
Because of my meds, alcohol isn’t an option. I don’t do drugs or smoke. So, I make up for all that with food. I fill in the gaps of uncertainty with bacon, eggs, cheese, and seconds of that.
It’s my undoing.
And let me be clear, drugs, food, and alcohol aren’t the only ways we humans cope with hard things. You know your thing.
The morning of me writing all this, I checked my blood sugar. It was up 10 points. It’s still in a decent range, but it’s certainly spiked enough to have me food prepping in earnest and easing back into more mindful eating. I bagged grapes and raisins, rinsed chopped and roasted vegetables, and pre-made sandwiches and tuna salad. I want to be ready for the cravings.
The ones that come when I’m already full. The ones that tell me, “If you indulge, you’ll be distracted and you won’t feel so afraid of the world ending.”
The ones that bring me back to childhood moments that included the same exact food-filled solutions.
How about you? How are you coping?
What are you turning to?
What do you attempt to replace fear with?
Look, this is one of those times where we’ll all collectively fall off the horse at some point. Our budgets will be in shambles, our emergency funds decimated, our relationships strained, our feelings wrecked, and our faith challenged.
Even in my recovery-after-a-manic-episode season of life, I still hold enough privileges to have the lights on and secure housing. We’re set up. But, everyone isn’t and that’s just extra worry on top of it all.
All this to say, we really really need to give ourselves extra room to be less than perfect right now.
I’m not advising we intentionally tank our nest eggs to order pizza and Disney+ subscriptions for the entire neighborhood, but something’s bound to go wrong when we’re holding our breath for this long. And, we’re going to fall back into less than healthy habits.
This is also prime time to be praying even harder, asking for help, serving others, and delegating.
Seriously, hop off the productivity train for a while and sit down somewhere.
I’m personally praying for and feeling thankful for all the medical professionals dealing with a plethora of challenges, lack of sleep and funding, and something worse at every turn.
I’m personally praying for you and meditating on Philippians 4:6-7.
Revisit how you’ve been coping and invite yourself to make some small adjustments if you can.
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