By the time I finished showing houses late Sunday afternoon, I was exhausted and starving. It had been a busy weekend and I suddenly realized I hadn’t eaten all day. But what did I want?

I felt a gnawing craving inside. It was a familiar craving, but what was it for? Was it for steak? Pizza? Chicken? I genuinely felt confused.

I’ve gone through this odd process a thousand times before. I’m hungry but everything I think of feels wrong. I stopped at a couple of restaurants, thinking they might be what I needed, but each time I stopped, I felt a cold emptiness — because I realized what I needed wasn’t inside.

I started feeling more agitated. It wasn’t sugar I was craving, was it? I haven’t had anything sugary for about the last five weeks — since the gallbladder pain started — so that was out of my system, but I was so frustrated with my inability to name what I was craving that I considered maybe something sweet would calm the storm inside.

Then as I sat silently in the parking lot of the third restaurant I considered — with the dull realization that the food there wouldn’t fill my craving — a wave of emotion suddenly swept over me.

Yes, I was hungry, but that wasn’t what I was craving. 

This wasn’t about food. It was about her. My emotions and craving and physical needs were all confused.

I didn’t need any special food. I didn’t need to give myself a treat. I didn’t need all the things that my agitated mind had been offering.

With blinding emotion, I realized that I simply wanted to talk with her.

I wanted to see her.

I wanted to touch her.

I wanted to sit down with her and eat … well … something. It didn’t matter what. It was her that mattered, not the food.

My rational brain kept giving me food choices, but it was leading me astray. It was pushing me to fill my craving with the only things it knew to give. Yes, I was hungry, so that approach seemed rational.

But it wasn’t until I told my brain, “No,” over and over again that the emotions surfaced clearly. It wasn’t until then that my chattering monkey mind was quiet enough that I could hear that voice from my heart:

This isn’t about food. It’s about her.

I picked a place to eat, almost randomly. It didn’t matter what I ate. I knew that after I started listening.

The food was OK. The music was too loud. The people were too noisy and intrusive. When you can’t have what you need, almost anything can feel alienating. I just wanted to go home and be away from these people.

My brain constantly misleads me. That’s why I’ve spent so many years using food to try to fill unfulfilled needs. My brain offers me what it has available — and it tries to silence the voice in my heart that attempts to point out what I really need.

I can’t have what I need today, so my brain thinks it’s best to push those feelings aside and fill the need with something — almost anything — that’s available. There’s a certain cold logic to that, but it leads to somewhere I don’t need to be.

We like to count on our brains. We like to do what seems logical and reasonable. That’s what we tell ourselves.

But the truth is that our hearts know what we need. Sometimes we need to be less attentive to that constantly chattering monkey mind inside our heads. Sometimes we need to stop the chatter and the rational options.

Sometimes we just need to listen to the voice in our hearts. It knows what we need — and it will tell us clearly when we have the courage to listen to the truth.