Dying for Chocolate — My Valentine’s Day Not-So-Near Death Experience

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Yesterday, on February 14, I woke up to a sweet surprise. Propped on the night table next to my side of the bed was an envelope containing a Valentine’s Day card. The front of the card says: ‘You Are My Favorite Thing in the Universe.’ The inside printed part reads: ‘How lucky the world is to have you in it! Happy Valentine’s Day.’

But the best part is what my husband of almost 16 years wrote on the card. ‘You are the most wonderful caring loving person I know.’ Awwwwww!!!! Love is blind, right! πŸ˜‰ I love my best friend husband so much.

My hubby and I did not meet until we were both in our fifties. We met at work, and quickly discovered that we had practically everything in common. Finding each other when we did was something of a miracle. However, because we had both been diagnosed with PTSD, we had a very rocky first couple of years. Between dealing with our multiple trauma triggers, on top of our respective histories of failed relationships — PTSD can be hard on relationships, for multiple reasons — it looked for awhile like we weren’t going to make it. But thanks to our shared faith in the Lord Jesus and to a lot of good, healing, Christ-centered therapy, today we are doing great.

I thank God for my husband. This is the happiest and healthiest that my life has ever been. We may be “over the hill,” age-wise. But instead of going downhill, I feel like this is just the beginning of the best part of life.

Yesterday, though, for several scary minutes, I thought I might not live to see another day!

You see, I am a chocolate addict, and my husband knows this. He knows to buy me chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but he also knows not to buy too much, like a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates, because I have a tendency to keep eating chocolates until I make myself sick. A small box of only about five or six pieces of candy works best for me.

Yesterday morning, after I found my lovely card, I looked around for a small box of chocolates, but there were no chocolates to be found. The only chocolate related thing I saw was the book that’s pictured at the top of this post: Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson. This book was lying on our dining room table beside my husband’s placemat, where he had left it after he finished reading it the night before.

“Dying for Chocolate,” I said to myself. “How ironic that he would be reading a book by that title, when here it is Valentine’s Day and I was expecting chocolate, but there isn’t any. He must have hidden my chocolate somewhere.”

I am an early bird and my hubby is a night owl, one of the few things we don’t have in common. So I had to wait several hours until he finally woke up, to get my chocolate. He had hidden it behind his rye bread, another thing we don’t have in common. Behind his bread, tucked in the back of the breadbox, was a small bag of chocolate covered pecans, one of my favorites.

They may not come in a heart-shaped box, but I couldn’t have been happier as I tore open the familiar dark brown bag, grabbed a fist full of the rich chocolatey nuts, and started munching away.

I chewed, I swallowed, I grabbed another handful, chewed, swallowed, grabbed another handful . . . and that’s when I first noticed that, underneath the familiar, deliciously sweet chocolate taste, the pecans tasted different.

The bag was lying face down on the table. I picked it up, turned it over, and discovered that I wasn’t eating chocolate covered pecans — I was eating chocolate covered peanuts. And I am allergic to peanuts!!!!!

Well, obviously, I did not die yesterday. My husband gave me a Benadryl antihistamine. We had an epipen handy. And, we prayed! Me: God, please don’t let me die, my husband would be so mad at himself!Β  Husband: Please don’t let Linda die, I would never forgive myself!

Not only didn’t I die, I didn’t even have the slightest allergic reaction! The last time I ate something with peanuts in it, about 22 years ago, my lips and tongue swelled up and I had to go to the emergency room. But not this time!

So, how could such a mistake have been made? Was my loving husband trying to kill me? Lol, no. What happened was that he had bought two bags of what he thought were chocolate covered pecans. The bags were hanging together on a hook in the store. The bag in front, the one he saw, was, indeed, chocolate covered pecans. But the bag behind it was chocolate covered peanuts. The two bags are identical in color, size, and shape. Of course, the pictures and wording on the front of the bags are different. But neither one of us had bothered to look at the front of the second bag, until after I had scarfed down almost half of the contents. Duh! I don’t expect that we will ever make that mistake again.

But here’s the really amazing thing: I did not have a panic attack yesterday, not even after I realized that I had scarfed down half a bag of peanuts. I have had several life-threatening anaphylactic shock reactions to various allergens in the past, and I knew that I could very well have such a reaction to the peanuts I had just consumed. But — I did not panic, not even a little bit. Seventeen years ago, I was diagnosed with severe PTSD. I used to have panic attacks All The Time. But I did not panic yesterday, even though I had every reason to. And neither did my husband, despite his PTSD!

You know what this means? We were truly trusting God to do His will. We were trusting that His will is best. I knew in my heart that I was ready to go to heaven, if God wanted to take me right then and there. And I also knew God wasn’t going to let me die, if He didn’t want to take me just yet.

Not only that, but the Neurofeedback Treatments that I had in 2017, and the EMDR and EFT treatments my husband is currently undergoing, have made a huge difference in our PTSD symptoms. We had every reason to panic, but we didn’t panic! Praise the Lord!

Still… isn’t it ironic that my husband had just finished reading Dying for Chocolate! πŸ˜€

I have a first appointment later today to try neurofeedback for my PTSD…

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I am excited and nervous and too wound up to sleep. It’s almost 5:30 in the morning right now, and I have been awake since 1:30. In a couple of hours I will get up, get dressed, and drive for almost two and a half hours to my appointment. Not good, with so little sleep! But I really need to try this, because I have been feeling so STUCK in my life. Writing my memoir, which I am still doing, has brought up some deeply buried issues that I didn’t even know I had.

Anger. Pain. Anxiety. Depression. Poor Executive Function. Feeling Overwhelmed. Feeling Stuck. Writer’s Block. Trouble Sleeping. Trouble Concentrating….

Most grievous of all, I recently overreacted to a precious friend who had completely misunderstood something I said to her. I said something that was meant to affirm and bless her, and she reacted with anger, thinking that I had said something offensive, which I absolutely had not done.

Right away, I realized that she had misunderstood me. But instead of gently pointing that out to her, I became Really Angry. And I pounded out a reply to her mildly scolding email, that went way beyond what was called for. Her initial upset email to me had been only about a “3” on an anger scale of “10,” but my scorched earth reply was at least an “8.”

Now, I am devastated that I lost my temper. I am furious at myself for hurting my friend, and I feel heartbroken, because she told me that our friendship is over, and she blocked my email. I don’t blame her for doing that, but it really hurts.

In hindsight, I know what caused me to overreact to her angry misunderstanding. My friend’s fairly mild anger at me, an anger that really was inappropriate under the circumstances, triggered a lifetime of trauma memories. Memories of being the family scapegoat since childhood, and continuing to be the scapegoat in my elderly mother’s eyes, to this day. Memories of trying so hard to do good and trying to be helpful and to make other people happy, only nothing I did was ever good enough for the “narcissists” in my life!! I would try and try, I would jump through hoops trying to please my mother, for example, trying to make her happy, trying to win her love and approval — but my mother would misunderstand me, she would take things out of context, she would twist things all around, and she would project attitudes and motives onto me that were never mine.

When I was a child, I was helpless. I could never stand up for myself to my parents, not without getting a tongue lashing or a beating. So I stuffed it all way down deep inside. But last week, when my friend reacted in an email the way my mother used to react to my acts of kindness, I LOST IT. And I really hate when I do that!

So today I am going to drive over 250 miles round trip and plunk down some cash for a procedure that, according to what I have read, has helped a lot of people recover from PTSD and other cognitive issues.

I am excited and nervous. And I need to try to get at least another hour or two of sleep!

Here is a YouTube video about neurofeedback. The guy who is administering the procedure is the person I will see later today. He is the same age as my younger son, which feels a bit weird to me. But that’s okay, as long as he knows what he is doing!