July 15, 2020

Staring into the Refrigerator with Mindfulness - Robyn Cruze

Lately, I’ve been walking back and forth, back and forth to the refrigerator. I stand and stare inanely at its contents. There is nothing my body craves. But it isn’t my body that’s hungry—it’s my emotions.

My emotional appetite is ravenous. It wants to have, eat, drink, do anything but experience the uncertainty of the current circumstances. Fear of the unknown, boredom like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, and the anxiety engine within that has, through all the self-isolation, begun revving.

I have been here before. Many times.
And yet, here I am again.
And, it's okay. I’m okay.

I am eleven years old. I purchase five packets of potato chips. I sit down in the playground away from the usual bustling traffic and eat them. Calm washes over me. My world is quiet for a moment. My brain goes silent; the anxiety stops and my emotions are numb.

In that moment my mother isn’t dying anymore, and the Me who was born into this world, who is highly sensitive and intuitive, has a superficial peace that I can control. I am in control. Then I finish the potato chips and suddenly, I’m not in control anymore.


I stand at my refrigerator. The anxiety engine revving within me. I look inside, placing my awareness of how I feel. My hunger is not for food. "Am I in fear, irritated at something I have said yes to but should have said no? Am I sad?" I ask myself. I get curious about my feelings. "They are just feelings. They are not real. There is no impending doom right now, here at the refrigerator."

The truth is, I may choose to eat something when I am not hungry. Only now, it is no longer a compulsion—an action I MUST do to stop whatever I am feeling. When I eat, it is a choice. I no longer react to my fear or sadness or irritation.

Food is not that powerful. It cannot take my feelings away. Stopping and inviting those feelings to stay awhile sends a powerful message that they can no longer bully me. I will not run. Most of the time, it relieves the pressure and takes away the steam of most compulsions.
“Knowing the signs has allowed me to take action sooner to regulate my emotions. I can slow down, breathe, and ask myself if it’s “a snake or a stick.” This helps considerably, most of the time. It doesn’t mean that recovery has ended all of my roller-coaster emotions or anxiety. I still feel very deeply, and sometimes that feels wonderful; but when it doesn’t, and I don’t want to be a part of it, I still try to run. And, like always, the running creates a snowball, and even after all of these years of recovery, I find myself buried in an avalanche of emotions. It is only when I allow myself to feel the discomfort of rising emotions—when I don’t run, but instead pause—that I get the opportunity to rewrite my relationship with my emotions.” 

Excerpt from Making Peace with Your Plate, Page 51

We’ve got this!

Internationally-recognized author and speaker Robyn Cruze published Making Peace with Your Plate (Central Recovery Press) with Espra Andrus, LCSW, which will enter its second edition in February 2020.

Her work has been featured internationally in media outlets including ABC, Sky News (Aust.), CBS, The Mighty, The Temper and Refinery 29. Robyn is the cofounder of a family mental health awareness initiative, Wide Wonder, that aims to make mental health and addiction recovery an everyday conversation.

She also serves as a Director of Advocacy consultant at Eating Recovery Center. Follow Robyn on Instagram.
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