Eat another slice of pizza. Go on, I dare you. How are you any different from your mother? Fat, stuffing your feelings down with food. And I don’t get it, Jennifer, I really don’t; you’re fully aware of the pain you went through. You’ve catalogued every bit of it you can remember. It’s done. It’s over. It can’t happen again. Yes, the world is a dangerous place and all kinds of victimization can happen, but you know you can survive it.
Well, you can eat it.
A strange memory floated in on the heels of another; a story about Super Seal led to thinking about the blankies. Two of them. One Mom told you about, and the white one.
You ate them.
It looked like Swiss cheese, the blankie. Not that you knew what Swiss cheese was. Holes, fuzzies, threads, taste and texture indelibly imprinted. That’s what you knew. But looking back, the blankie looked like Swiss cheese.
It tasted like comfort.
So what if—just what if—you’ve been attacking the problem the wrong way. What if it isn’t denial that opens your mouth, what if it’s anxiety?
Mom told the story of the first blankie: spread across the grass, a pen of sorts for Baby Jennifer. Back, forth, over, across, but never so much as one toe off the blankie. Mom tasted freedom: she could read without interruption, she could visit with friends. She could even walk a little ways away. She’d look back to find you at the edge, leaning over, but never touching anything but the blanket.
Anxiety, separation anxiety. Many babies eat their blankets when they’re separated from their mothers. And where did you eat yours? At the sitter’s house. On the floor. Fuzzies, threads, the texture of marking time till Mommy came home.
Do you pass the hours by munching? Do you relieve the stress of feeling so alone with food?
I think you do, Jennifer. I think when your belly hurts your mouth works, but nothing ever fills the belly the right way. A joke of the gods, to fill an introvert with abandonment issues.
And school, Jennifer, why did you love school? Because Mommy walked you there. She held your hand and talked to you, and was always so happy to see you and hear about your day. And nursery school started when the blankies ended.
So what will you do with this revelation, Jennifer? What can you do with the acknowledgment that Mom made a habit of abandoning you? With understanding that maybe you’ve misunderstood this problem?
Cry, probably. But maybe, just maybe, you can fill your heart when your belly feels lonely. Nothing will fill a Mommy-shaped hole, but maybe the love of your husband and children can heal it. Lord knows pizza won’t.
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