And leaves you wanting more

It’s a chilly evening,  but the lounge room is warm and clean.  The children are in bed, Lovely Husband is out at a class and I have the night to myself.  In front of me is a huge bowl of lentil soup, my favourite food in the world.

The first bite is heavenly.  Hot, spicy, creamy and thick, laced with lime and yoghurt for tang. I am perfectly satisfied, and in the very next second I feel a spike of anxiety. Eventually this bowl of soup, enormous though it is, will be gone and the pleasure will be over.  Even reminding myself that there is more soup in the pot doesn’t help, because there is no way I’ll be able to eat more.  Once this bowl of soup is done, it is done, and I am mourning its loss even as I contemplate a second spoonful.


You are, at this point, either nodding in recognition or thinking that I am entirely insane, and both are completely legitimate responses!  I laugh when I catch myself doing it now.  I used, of course, to do it with alcohol; my anxiety that there wouldn’t be enough pleasure in a bottle would almost outweigh the desire to drink it at all, which is both ludicrous and also explains part of why it is so much more peaceful not to drink it at all. I’d be watching a film, which would be coming up to the most emotional moment, but if my glass was almost empty I’d pause the narrative – and lose the tense build up – to make sure it was full again.  I couldn’t possibly lose myself in the moment if I didn’t also have that glass by my hand.

I haven’t lost any of that anxiety.  I still feel as if somehow, somewhere, I’ll hit upon a magical combination of fulfilling leisure and sensory pleasure that somehow satiates me completely and propels me into a new world.   And when I do find something that gets close – right now it’s Pretty Little Liars and knitting – I do it again and again, every evening.

Sleeves being knitted and worn at the same time

I cannot do this, in case you’re wondering

Sometimes I think that learning how to just be is the hardest thing of all.


9 thoughts on “And leaves you wanting more

  1. great post, Allie, thank you. a couple of thoughts (well, three if you count “mmmmmm, soup!”) firstly that ‘not enough’ feeling, which yes, I know well. best article I ever read on that un-fillable void is here – her premise is that we only PERCEIVE ourselves as incomplete, and that once we can accept that, we are able to stop trying to fill the non-existent hole.

    secondly, if you haven’t already seen them, I am doggedly working my way through a series of sober book club blog posts based on the book ‘Flow’, which examines the benefits of optimal experience, when we are completely engaged in an activity. it’s an extension of the post I did on PIER which I think you enjoyed… most recent post in the Flow series here, with links to the other ones.
    it’s helping me to examine in detail that sensation you describe, of complete immersion. bestest to you. glad you are posting here again!

  2. I won’t give you a book list as my therapist has me on a stop reading and start being plan!
    Learning to just be is hard.
    I like to think I can. When I teach my weekly yin yoga class I feel the stillness. And I deeply believe in it.
    But my actions show that I continue to seek for answers even when I already know them.

    Mindful meditation. It’s a start.

  3. Your post reminds me of a talk I heard by an addict who said, “My drug of choice is more!” It hit home with me. More. Now. That constant dissatisfaction with even the best I can get – because it won’t stay the same. More reason to practice meditation and mindfulness, so I can learn to stop the past and future ruminations. It really is true that it is impossible to live anywhere but in the present, so why not enjoy the only place there is? Thanks for your blog.

  4. I completely relate! I get anxious when I’m having a good day and everything is going well because I know that it won’t last. I have a hard time just enjoying the moment and just “being.” I used drinking to make things be “more” and then would feel the anxiety as the buzz wore off. Then I’d start that fight with myself about whether I could have 1 more…exhausting! For me, the day was never going to be any better than when I was having that 2nd drink, and that buzz was starting to kick in…sad, isn’t it? I still struggle with that thinking even though I don’t drink over it any more.

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