There’s nothing like emergency chocolate

by f

image from

When W gave me a slab of Emergency Chocolate today I knew that he understood. It was his way of letting me know that he knew who I was and that he loved me.

I have to admit — and I’m nothing if not brutally honest about my own faults, even if I’m sometimes unwilling to change them — that I fucked up majorly last night. When I say fucked up, I’m talking Drunk Viking with Rogue Axe.

Yesterday, I took stock of my life. My life is unpleasant, so it wasn’t something I enjoyed doing. And then I thought to myself, shit, I wish I could have a break from my life. A break. I need a break, I need a break.

Wouldn’t you want one? I can’t write anymore, which is how I (foolishly) planned on making a living. I’m not even writing on here. That’s just awful. I had an awesome portrait series planned, but each time I sit down in front of my grandmother’s life I feel unequal to the task. I’m paralyzed and at the same time unworthy to edit her.

Given that nobody in this economy is hiring — though I do get part time work here and there — it’s tough for me to be optimistic. I have to get out of this hellhole I live in, but there aren’t many opportunities. (I should post a list of things I’m “allowed” to and not allowed to do while living here. I’m 23 and that list is disgraceful.)

So when I called W late yesterday after he’d spent an entire day moving into new house in upstate NY, the first words I said to him on the phone were, “I need a break.”

Well, no, I’d talked to him on the phone before that, and I’d gotten the disappointing news that his sister, the Princess L, was coming home with him instead of staying put in her upstate town. So now there’s a third wheel the whole time he’ll still be near me. Yes, I was pissed. But it was a normal, manageable level of pissiness. I did not — one hundred percent — want a break.

And yet, somehow, I said it.

I couldn’t walk it back fast enough. He whispered, “are you serious?” and my throat chirped, near dead. The giant NO that had been building up in my voicebox didn’t come out into the open air. When he realized I wasn’t going to say anything he said, “I can’t talk about this now,” and he hung up.

My voicebox un-paralyzed itself. I called him back.

The first thing out of my mouth: “That’s not what I meant!” and the first thing out of his: “Of course that’s what you meant.”

And then he said that he was absolutely going to see me tomorrow and told me why he hadn’t called me that day and then I asked him — in a very small voice — if he was going to ask me why I said what I said. I wanted him to allow me a chance to redeem myself.

I shook my head, I shook my head. But what if it was a lie?  I’d just been talking to D about it. I’d said to her:

You know what? In the back of my mind, I think I should walk away from my life. Look at the bullshit I’ve got to go through with my relationship.

1) My mother doesn’t approve.
2) His parents don’t approve
3)  I’d always be a complete and total outsider — with my parents, with him, with everybody.

No matter what, it is a lot of agita, and it’s a lot of caring that I have to do. I want to stop giving a shit.

D responded:

Well, if you wanted an opportunity to see what it’s like without this, now is it. Take a break. Reassess in six months, a year.

You said on Subterfuge that you feel you need to become your own person before you get married. If he’s the one you’re going to marry, then it’ll happen, be it in a year or thirty years from now. In the meantime, you owe it to yourself to become that person you’re meant to be. He’s helped you grow a LOT. But maybe you need to not be so near him in order to do the rest.

I internalized what D said. I understood it. But I didn’t want that break. Everything in me told me that I should not ask for that break. And my body was begging for me to shut the fuck up. For me to tie my tongue with drawstring. Or something.

It’s a feeling I recognize. I call it the Scissor principle.

Whenever I look at a pair of scissors I feel like hacking my hair off. My hair is really slow growing. It’s just how it is. I worry for it, but there it is.  After I hacked my hair off, I’d never be able to go out in public.

I want to ruin myself all the time, and whenever I see an instrument for painless self destruction I always feel tempted to try it. By saying I’d wanted a break I’d started the process of voluntarily torpedoing my relationship. It felt sick and disgusting, like I’d torn apart an irreplaceable work of art. I guess this is a sign that I’m destined to stay with this man for the rest of my life. The thought of being separated from him makes me want to drown.

When I went asleep I felt awful, but I woke up newly resolved to make it up to him. I’d committed a grave harm to our relationship. I would ignore the itchiness of my internal scissor and force him to understand that there was no way in hell that I would ever, under any circumstances, leave him relationship-less for even a second.

In the morning we argued about a bunch of things. We argued about where in the city we were going to meet. My piano teacher scheduled my class for a very inconvenient time, so at first I thought he would meet me before the lesson, but he sent me a series of confusing and cryptic text messages that I didn’t quite understand —

(“Buds Wor Class”. Come on. Make sense of that — I dare you.)

— but we ended up meeting further downtown at an Indian restaurant that smelled so foul we were forced to locate thrice. We ended up at a TGI Fridays. The menu was so overpriced that I couldn’t look at it. I ordered him to order, there were a few snafus. Things to distract us from our point. I’m grateful we had those distractions. When we finally turned to each other and resumed our conversation, I asked him something.

“Did you think I meant it when I said I’m breaking up with you?” I asked.

He nodded. “Yeah.”


“I’m not supposed to take you at your word?” he asked.

When I shook my head no. W rolled his eyes at me.

“What am I?” he asked. “Your gatekeeper?”

Yeah, what is he to me, anyway? The man who can prevent me from torpedoing myself? I swallowed against myself.

“I feel.” W continued, “that there’s no way I’d ever leave you. But I am not so sure now that you’d never leave me.”

Holy shit, what have I done?

When we’d just met that day, on our way to the foul-smelling Indian place we’d eventually ditch, W brought a small plastic bag. He pressed the bag into my head and I felt hard rectangular object up against my palm. I opened it to find a bar of Emergency Chocolate. It looked so official with its swiss cross and cheerful redness. It promised me a relief from my love-sickness. It also told me that if my pangs were too severe, I should “call a confectioners”.

(Take a look at the picture to see the whole set of instructions.)

And that brings to mind the beautiful chocolate shop that used to be in front of W’s old house from back when we were in college. On wintry afternoons we’d stand outside the building, sniffing the wafts of chocolate fumes and melted happiness. Those are the lovely memories I should keep close to my vest, in case my scissor hungry stupidity wants to rear its ugly head and torpedo my life.

(The chocolate tastes excellent by the way. It’s fifty-five percent, so it’s not too bland and not too sharp. It’s a perfect mixture of darkness and sweetness. It’s reviving my soul.)

One Comment to “There’s nothing like emergency chocolate”

  1. I read this last night but I was too sleepy to make a comment before bed! Sorry!

    I used to struggle with a very similar self-destructive need. I don’t know what it stemmed from and I don’t know exactly what caused it to “go away,” although it never really totally went away. It still happens sometimes and I have to remind myself not to give in. It’s not always easy, though, when it happens sometimes the call to do it is so fast or so strong that it happens before I think of it and then, like you in this situation, I’m stuck with what I’ve done or said and I’ve got to find a way to make it up to the person or people that got caught in the cross hairs of my strange self-destructive need. Sometimes it’s possible and sometimes it’s not. It looks like this time it’s more than possible, though, you two are lucky to have each other and I’m so glad that your boyfriend is such an understanding guy. 🙂 Good luck!

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