Ever since kindergarten lunch boxes, I’ve always had chocolates to snack on.
Chocolates first came into my life as sweet gifts from travels beyond the South Pacific. My beautiful aunt – who also wore her Buiniga with pride – was a flight attendant who would spoil me with boxes of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from Hawaii, silver wrappings of Hershey kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups from Los Angeles, and Bounty, Snickers and Mars Bars party packs from Sydney.
‘These are for you to nibble on during recess at school,’ she would slowly say to me as she handed the goodies to mother dearest.
The crinkling sounds the packets made gave me life.
It was the main reason I prioritized school – and STAYED. For instance, the hurricane in 1994 was so bad that so many trees fell around the streets of Lautoka and parents called up the school to notify their children’s absence in advance. Only 15 students attended school that cloudy day. Guess who showed up to class with a smile on her face?
The May 2000 coup occurred 200 kilometers or 4 hours drive away from home. Many fled the country while teachers surveyed a large amount of student absentees – BUT GUESS WHO SHOWED UP READY FOR MATH with seven other students?
The School Head-Master – who happened to be my class teacher as well – was so proud of his students for showing up to class. The gentle teacher was almost in tears as he gave the few of us a pep talk before continuing to teach us the syllabus for the day.
Call it early behavioral conditioning or the Pavlov theory in action, I couldn’t care less. All I know was, at the break of dawn, my uniform had to be ironed, my lunch packed – goodies packed and cross-checked twice – and I had to be out of the house and in school before 7:30am for the 8am start. No school meant no chocolates. Learning was as enjoyable and as sweeeeet as the goodies hidden in my lunch box.
The reason I’m only linking these chocolate delights with my learning journey is because it became strikingly apparent that this did not apply to other areas in my life. Take netball for instance. Our netball squad were proud champions with no losses in the Western Division Netball Competition. However, not many from my family showed up to any of my games and my nerdy best friends were equally as bored with the idea of watching me play and win. There weren’t any chocolates in my bag either during netball season. I lived on glucose and sandwiches prepared by the hardworking coach on Game Days. So, not even winning the championship trophy with the squad could later entice me to stay or pursue a netball career. When education called, I quickly dropped netball and never looked back.
But as time went on, I thought of cutting down on my chocolate consumption as it was slowly becoming a go-to stress reliever and an unhealthy addiction. I realized this when one of my friends found a stash in my bag.
‘You know, those healthy, vegan, gluten-free stuff is super expensive – SEVEN DOLLARS for soya bean crisps and fruits? Gerrarahia! I’d rather spend 2 bucks on this chocolate bar than seven bucks on that healthy snack. No thanks.’
‘It’s not the same as smoking so why are you so quick to judge me?’
‘I’m part of a society in uni called chocolate aficionado where we appreciate, talk about and eat chocolates. Do you want some?’
Lies I’ve fed myself over the past few years to justify my habit whenever somebody would ask out of curiosity.
Whenever Lent came around, it was so easy for me to give up social media, TV and many other things, but giving up chocolates just for 40 days was never included in the meeting agenda, neither was the topic up for discussion.
Because I knew I had a problem that I currently had no solution to.
And as much as I tried to wean myself off of it on my own, my plans to stay away or create new habits would always backfire and I would always find my feet walking toward the isle in the supermarket ready to get my quick fix again, and again, and again. I was chained and permanently hooked by a habit that eventually got out of control.
So I gave up.
Last year, I gave up trying to resist my cravings and just settled into the fact that some people love their beer, packets of smokes and therefore, I am no different. I gave up trying to quit a bad habit on my own.
This was also around the same time when I drew closer to God in prayer.
I made some time in my busy day to pray with other Christians, fast, read and meditate on God’s Word and just enjoy being in His presence.
Around that time of prayer and fasting, I lived on water and an idea came to mind (Praise God) to put lemon slices and freshly squeezed lemon juice into my water.
Ugh! Lemon juice made me nostalgic of the worst days during childhood where I fell terribly ill. To help nurse me back to health, my mother would boil water, allow it to cool, squeezed fresh lemon juice in before giving me the mixture to drink.
I remember despising the bitter taste of the strong citrus drink. When I felt better a few hours later, I remember getting out of bed and walking out of my room toward the kitchen only to see a large gallon of that same lemon drink with my name on it.
I had to finish the fluids in the gallon before she arrived home from work. The lemon in my water would always do something that made me feel so much better. Obviously I’m not saying this is the cure to illnesses. Seek advice from your family doctor (our family doctor advised my mother to do this so I could drink more fluids).
So last year, I grabbed a beautiful water bottle, mixed the lemon water drink and drank it throughout the day.
I wasn’t even embarrassed of my lemon water during team meetings. People’s opinions didn’t matter an inch to me during that time.
In moments where I felt hesitant to drink this water, I turned to google and youtube to cross-check if I was mixing my water right. God also had a way of confirming things that kept me going and trusting Him in the process.
Maybe I needed to learn to give up all control? Let go and let God lead the way? I honestly didn’t have a clue why God was leading me to drink it but I did it anyway. Eventually, I gave up coffee and tea as well (don’t ask me how it happened. It just did).
That was last year.
Why am I even mentioning this?
Well, last week, after a very stressful day, I decided to take a detour through the mall thinking to myself that the kit-kat blocks were a dollar special during this time. I was thinking about this. This was weird because when it comes to making a decision concerning chocolates, I never think.
I would simply be led by my feelings or cravings and I never thought about the price. $0.99 or $4.50, the old me would buy it anyway.
My feet would know exactly where to go, my eyes locked in on my target and not wavering. The old me would be on autopilot mode, picking up the goodies, purchasing it, leaving the store. Ripping open the deep purple and heavenly gold wrappings to expose the smooth block of decadent chocolate hidden beneath – I would quickly get my fix and immediately feel so much pleasure jolting the nerves bringing me to a place of pure bliss.
Oh don’t laugh too hard.
At high school during class, I had discreetly slipped the food of the gods to a good friend of mine.
She took a bite right away (because d’oh, who could resist chocolate? Also, Lautoka enjoys a very hot and dry weather so I could understand why she had to gobble it down right away to prevent it from melting all over the place). The moment she indulged the candy, I immediately noticed how her eyes tightly squeezed shut and her body tensing up. She had a full minute of pulling weird faces.
Then I realized that she felt the same way about chocolates as I did.
We were both addicted.
But as I was mindfully approaching the supermarket isle last week, I recognized that something was evidently missing. I couldn’t figure out what it was that was missing right away until I realized that I had been standing in front of the chocolates section longer than expected.
The store attendant slowly walked by to see if I was alright.
I was alright. I was fine. I felt normal.
Maybe I was undecided on the variety even though the kit-kat was indeed on special for only a dollar.
But I kept pacing along the isle, waiting for something to happen, perhaps to overrule my own judgment like the thousands of instances before.
This was unlike me to be so indecisive over chocolates – something I’ve had with me my whole life! Something I seriously thought I could never break away from. Something I gave up fighting last year and accepted defeat.
The old me that had the cravings, twisted undying attachment for chocolates – all of that in its entirety – was missing. Gone. I could feel the massive vacant space within me that the dark cravings left behind.
It’s like that feeling where you don’t own a pet dog but you find yourself walking into a supermarket just to buy dog food. Weird and unnecessary.
I finally turned on my heel and for the very first time, I walked out of the supermarket with no chocolate in hand.
It was only after a few minutes of walking away that my mind finally registered what had just happened a few moments ago. The chains I had wanted to break away from and set myself free a very long time ago, was finally broken. Tears streamed from my eyes. I was very happy. I still am. God did it. God set me free.
I laughed so hard when I got home to find one of my family members chuck a massive bag of M&Ms in front of me. When I told them that I no longer indulged in chocolates, this family member announced the news to everyone else and publicly vowed to bring home boxes and bags of chocolates just to test me. As I type this, there’s a massive box of Oreos and three packets of Tim Tams in the cupboard. It has been sitting there for three days now.
With God in my life, I will strive to let go of the ego within and let God direct my footsteps.
Wishing you all a Blessed 2018.