Articles & Interviews
When I stopped dieting, it was because I glimpsed the possibility that my crazy eating was the sanest thing I'd ever done. If I didn't reject it, try to be good or measure up to an external standard of right eating or right body size, if I was curious and open about each part of it -- what I was eating, how I felt while I was eating, what happened in the moments before I suddenly found myself hacking away at frozen cake in an attempt to get the whole thing into my mouth ten minutes ago -- the eating itself would lead me back to the feelings, beliefs, fears that created the addiction. Once I understood what I was using food to do, I could ask myself if there was a more direct way to have what I wanted without hurting myself in the process.
One night after I ate an entire pizza, three pieces of cheesecake, a bag of potato chips and a pint of pumpkin ice cream, I sat down to write instead of going into my usual whirl of "I can't believe I did that,I am a pig, out of control, hopeless" After about half an hour of writing into the center of the feelings (using a method I've since called "writing inquiry"), I realized I believed that being thin meant being in relationships, and given my history of picking "projects" instead of people -- men who, like broken cars, needed years of tuning up,
The real miracle wasn't that I lost weight or that the biggest problem of my life was no longer a problem, it was that all this time, my longing -- which expressed itself in distorted eating -- was for the right thing but I didn't know how to listen, to be attentive. All this time, my self -- destructive eating was a valiant though misguided attempt at being fully alive. Like a plant naturally curves to the light, I could trust the curves of my heart. I could trust that what I wanted most was to be whole. I was too busy pushing myself, driving myself, judging myself, hating myself, thinking I knew what I was supposed to change into and how to do it. I was like a caterpillar who spent seventeen years shaming myself for not being a better, stronger, thinner caterpillar without ever once considering that being a butterfly was possible. In the end, breaking free from emotional eating is about finally trusting that something else exists besides pain, sorrow, hatred, suffering, and that there is a rhythm, an order, and a natural push for light in every single one of us.