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I am involved in a toxic relationship

I am slowly, and sadly, realizing that I am in a toxic relationship. He holds all the cards, and I am powerless. He offers me things that we both know are bad for me, but I cannot resist. He makes me love things, and then he takes them away. His unpredictability literally drives me crazy, and yet I find myself going back for more. Each and every week I return to him. His name is Trader Joe.

It turns out that I am not alone. I googled “discontinued Trader Joe’s products,” and I found countless people feeling my pain. While I am missing and hopelessly checking for macaroons, that chocolate filled cereal, and my favorite dark chocolate covered Joe Joe’s to be resurrected, other people are mourning the passing of gyoza and others are actually going after his corporate office filled with anger over a change in the peanut butter. Many of us are also dealing with never-ending frustration over “seasonal items.” For example, puff pastry. According to Trader Joe, puff pastry is an item reserved for Christmastime, like nobody ever wanted a pastry that puffed the rest of the year. I don’t agree, but I comply.

This ability to give something and then take it away brings out the worst in people. I know girls who buy dozens of boxes of the seasonal pumpkin bread mix and hoard them away to make it through spring and summer. And I am shamefully guilty of hiding my Trader Joe treasures from my family so that I don’t have to share them. The sneaking around started with the dark chocolate covered Joe Joe’s. They were amazing – almost life changing. I took to stashing them in a corner of the pantry where nobody ever looked. Sadly, perhaps I was right not to spread the wealth around, for now, they are gone. Dark chocolate-pretzel brittle has taken their place, but who knows how long it will be around. I try to stay away from these things – I know they are bad for me. I try to walk past them on the “new items” shelf, because I know that putting them in my cart will only lead to me hunching over in the laundry room stuffing my face and calling, “Be right there!” to my children. It’s a horrible, double life that Trader Joe has driven me to lead.

And yet I know that next week, I will go back for more. I will show up with my canvas bags and load my red metal cart with the things I need…and the things I don’t. I know that he will seduce me at the sample counter. I know that he will make me smile by providing my children with balloons and stickers. I know that I will buy rotten fruit and bread that grows mold before we even get home, but I will forgive and forget, as I always do. I can’t resist him, and he knows it. He is part of my life. Even now, as I write this, I have a cup of his Chai Tea Latte and a mini blueberry muffin beside me. I’m sure one day these items will be gone, but never quite forgotten, and that he will replace them with something else that I can’t live without because he knows that, in the end, I can’t live without him – or his cheap wine.

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