“Hi, my name is Terri, and I’m a chocoholic,” I confess to the half dozen people sitting on folding chairs in a circle in the tiny basement room of the Lutheran church a few blocks from my house. Chocoholic’s Anonymous meets there twice weekly.
“Hi, Terri,” everyone replies.
Then we reach for coffee in those ugly Styrofoam cups, because, of course, we have to get our caffeine jolt from somewhere.
“You like chocolate,” you say. “So what?”
You don’t understand. I don’t just ‘like’ chocolate. I crave it from the time I open my eyes in the morning until I turn off the lights at night.
That’s the definition of an addict, right? I’m always calculating when and where I can score my next fix. I eat breakfast and then count the minutes until I can respectably have my first bite of the day. Is 9AM too early? What about 9:45, 10:15? I come home from the gym, primed for chocolate. I want it before lunch and afterwards, too. Don’t even get me started on what happens at night.
I keep wondering why I can’t stay away from the stuff. I used to love M&Ms. One small bag a day was my limit. No more of that fou-fou, sticky sweet milk chocolate for me. I want the real thing, the darker and more bitter the better. I think that means I’m getting worse.
By now, you’re probably scratching your head and saying, “What does this have to do with writing?”
I write in fits and starts. When things are flowing, I like to have a handful of Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, 60% Cacao, at my side to fuel the inspiration. These dark little spasms of pleasure are meant for cooking (I could care less) and contain (I’ve done the math) approximately five calories apiece. I pop one in my mouth and tap-tap my fingers across the keyboard until one of two things happens: the chip dissolves completely, or I can’t think of what to say next.
Either way, it’s time for another one. So it goes, all day long—and well into the evening during those periods when I’m on a roll.
I’m conditioned now to want chocolate whenever I write. At other times—a little less so. Is that because one of the hardest things I ever do is trying to get the words inside my head down onto the page in a form that someone other than me can understand? Is that because, when I’m writing, I’m most in need of the comfort only chocolate can bring?
I wish I knew. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to beat my addiction, since I’m not writing these days. Going cold turkey seems like the only solution. I know from experience that, if I tell myself to eat just one, I’ll likely fall into the gutter and demolish the entire bag.
So, I’m going to toss out my chips, walk away from this computer, keep attending my meetings, and take my withdrawal one bittersweet, cacao-less day at a time.