Robyn Lawley, a plus-size model, recently interviewed on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and got a roaring round of applause when she told Ellen that she “loves her body.” My dream is to live in a world where we don’t feel a round of applause is necessary when someone says they love their body, because we’re all too busy nodding in agreement.
So I took a baby step toward making that dream a reality.
This is for anyone who’s ever bit their tongue and held their breath. For anyone who avoids full length mirrors. For anyone who has a daughter growing into a young woman. For anyone who’s been through it. For anyone who loves ice cream cake. For anyone who knows they’re sexy but is too embarrassed to let it shine. For anyone who needs one last reminder that it’s okay to be in love with who you are.
There are more people in this video that I have never met than there are personal friends. There are more brave people out there than we realize. There is more love in this video than you can possibly imagine. There is more power behind these masking taped words than we give them credit for.
Keep the celebration going. Share this with someone you love. Be the aloha you wish to see in the world. I recommend you watch this on a big screen, more than once, and sing along as loud as you wish. And keep…on…ROARING!
I’ll never forget the way I was sitting on my bed last May in my underwear – left leg tucked, right leg straight, cookies and cream container stuck between my thighs – when I first read this excerpt from Geneen Roth’s When Food Is Love:
“From a journal entry, October 10, 1978. Today I ate:
1/3 package graham crackers (100 calories)
1 salad with dressing (300 calories)
1/8 lb. carob chips (200 calories)
1 cookie (75 calories)
1/4 lb. granola (300 calories)
4 tbsp. cashew butter (300 calories)
32 ounces apple juice (300 calories)
1/2 Wayfarer’s bread (250 calories)
5 tbsp. hummus (300 calories)
1 ice cream sandwich (400 calories)
1 apple (76 calories)
1 fudge bar (200 calories)
1 package brown rice crackers (200 calories)
1 tbsp. peanut butter (75 calories)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (2000 calories)
DAY’S TOTAL CALORIES: 5176
October 11, 1978, 3 A.M.: I awaken with an image of myself slashing each organ in my body to pieces. With each strike I say, “Good. Again. Harder.” I want to destroy myself. I want to eat until I die. The pain seems so deserving. It is the only way I am comfortable. Not sleeping, eating uncontrollably, driving myself to the edge, this feels right. I want to get in my car and go to Albertson’s. 3 A.M. Bright lights. Eat ice cream. Be totally mad and fling myself into the ocean. Get rid of myself. I hate this creature that I am. Good. Again. Harder.”
When I read that, and realized that I was not the only one in the world that did such things – that ate like that, that hated myself at 3 A.M. like that, that wanted to go out and get more ice cream even after all that – I was overwhelmed with relief, and grief, and a sick happiness, and the daunting question of “well shit, now what?”
The only way to answer my question was to keep reading. And I never stopped. Over the past nine months I have read myself sane. I have read myself happy. I have read myself healthy. Not 100% sane, or 100% happy, and not even close to 100% healthy, but I’m a lot closer today than I was last May, covered in sticky ice cream and chocolate sprinkles.
My library is a compilation of used books, borrowed books, yard sale books, and Kindle purchases all based off of loving friends’ recommendations or my own random discoveries or even gifts from strangers who I met at the yoga retreat.
I want to share my personal library with you because you never know what might strike a chord with you. I’m currently going on a JOURNEY with Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating, thanks to my aunt who sent it to me for Christmas. Books are my therapy, dude, seriously. My life is constantly changing because of what I read and how I apply it to my life.
Just like people, no book is ever perfect. I’ve learned to take what I need and leave the rest. Sometimes, only one chapter applies to me at the time, and I know that at a later point, I’ll understand the rest of the book. I read Eat, Pray, Love when I was 23, and again when I was 25, and each time was extremely different. A lot can happen in two years. So I encourage you to check out these books now – and if they don’t speak to you, keep them on your list for the future.
One last thing – you’ll notice that each book is directly linked to Amazon.com where you can purchase it directly. I personally support used book stores and local business before I ever buy a book online, but sometimes, you see the description for a book and you’re just like, “I NEED TO READ THAT RIGHT NOW.”
The books listed below are not just for emotional eaters or for women who struggle with body image. There’s something here for everybody – the anxious, the depressed, the confused, the performer, the creator, the lover – or the friend of an anxious, depressed, confused, performer-creator-lover. You might find insight on people you love, even if it doesn’t relate to you. I want to help, inspire, and encourage you and your loved ones. I hope that what you find below suits your needs.
Ready? Here we go. My library, in the order that I read them this past year. Each bulletpoint includes the title with a link to Amazon, the author, and my description of the book or an excerpt from the book in italics (sometimes, the book needs to do the talking):
- When Food Is Love by Geneen Roth: The excerpt that opened this blog post is from this book. This is the first book I read when I hit rock bottom. It started my journey with Geneen Roth, whose books literally saved my life. It brought awareness to the way I use food as a drug, and the way I have used dating, addiction, and failure as distractions.
- Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth: “By the time I was twenty-eight I knew how many calories were in any food that was presented to me. I knew how to lose weight and how to gain weight. I knew how to maintain my weight. I knew how to diet and how to binge. But I didn’t know when I was hungry. More painful, I didn’t know it was okay to be hungry. No one ever told me, or if they did, I had forgotten that being hungry was natural. My body was the enemy.” I learned how to eat, when I’m hungry, and not feel completely consumed by diet, food, or compulsion from this book. This book is my bible – still, to this day.
- Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth: “There are many ways to bolt. Walking out the door. Renting a helicopter. Distracting yourself from your pain by doing a thousand different things: thinking about something else, blaming your mother, blaming someone else, getting into a fight, comparing yourself to other people, dreaming about life in the future, recalling life in the past, never getting deeply involved. Eating. Spending your life trying to lose weight or figure it all out…Staying where you are with what you are feeling or seeing or sensing is the first step in ending the obsession with food. And although it seems as if ending the obsession is what we all want to do, we actually want to keep it more…Obsession gives you something to do besides having your heart shattered by heart-shattering events.”
- How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: I had no idea that the most simple acts of really remembering someone’s name and smiling in public could change my entire life. I can deal with anyone now – and I have truly become, a people person. I read this book right before I went to New Orleans last June and was hit on by every single attractive man I set my eyes on. Something about it must have worked, I’m telling you.
- How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie: I have had anxiety my entire life. This common sense approach to overcome worry and anxiety has calmed me down and put everything in perspective. I constantly go back to it for gentle reminding that it’s all gonna be okay.
- Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction by Thomas and Beverly Bien: This book totally cleared my vision after reading all of Geneen Roth’s books. Once I battled the actual eating disorder, I could take a step back and look at the addiction part of my eating disorder. This book can help anyone who has ever used cigarettes, weed, alcohol, sex, drugs, or food to fill the void in the past. You don’t have to be a serious addict to appreciate the amazing help this book provides – it can shed light on things regardless of your past.
- Return To Love by Marianne Williamson: This book completely overhauled my thinking in terms of what “love” is. There really aren’t enough words in the English language to define all the ways love affects us, but this book taught me to surrender what is out of my control and truly open myself up for the goodness that the universe provides. Ms. Williamson writes sort of like I do – very down to earth and honest, and I like that. She writes like a human – not a psychology professor.
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: My life is forever changed because of these four simple principles. If the entire world read this book, there wouldn’t be guilt, anger, insecurity, or confrontation. By reading this book, you are contributing to a better world. I also wrote out the four agreements in relation to the audition world – if you are a performer, or an artist, please read this book – or at least check out my recent blog post about it.
- The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp: Finding this in a used book store last month is the best thing that’s happened to me in 2014. Even if you are by no means in the creative or entertainment industry – this book is a must-read for a reminder that everyone is human, everyone struggles, and there are small ways to work through it and improve the way you find order and happiness in your daily life.
- Feeding The Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth: I read this months after I read the first three Geneen Roth books and I wish I had read it first in a way. It’s concise, personal, and makes me feel completely not alone in this journey of mine. It’s a mix between Geneen’s advice and a compilation of different people who have dealt with emotional eating and eating disorders, telling their stories honestly and openly. I HIGHLY recommend reading this even if you aren’t an emotional eater – it will clue you into what some of your loved ones may be going through.
- Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge: After doing months and months of reading on emotional and compulsive eating, sometimes you just need to read something else. My aunt sent me this book and I was skeptical because I don’t identify with Christianity – and Stasi Eldredge is a Christian-based author. However, I went on a JOURNEY with this book – every woman should read this and whoever you believe in, regardless if it’s God or Jesus or just good, old-fashioned love – you’ll find what you need in this book.
- Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge: This book’s caption is “unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul”. I’m three-quarters done with this book and I feel extremely vulnerable, but thank God. Again, this husband/wife team writes Christianity-based books, but I still identify with what this book is saying, regardless of my religion. I’m opening up and stepping back and looking at old wounds, old hurts, old battle scars, and really taking the time to accept them, process them, see how they’ve affected who I am today. This book is taking me into a journey of forgiveness, self-discovery, and self-trust.
These are the books that have profoundly shaped my past year. I quote them in my posts, on my vision boards, and in emails to friends. They are the best therapists I’ve ever known and none of them have ever asked to see my health insurance card.
I have to close with this quote that made me smile from ear to ear today while on my short plane ride from Maui to Kona:
“The word mother is more powerful when used as a verb than as a noun. All women are not mothers, but all women are called to mother. To mother is to nurture, to train, to educate, to rear…all women are uniquely gifted to help others in their lives become more of who they truly are – to encourage, nurture, and mother them toward their true selves. All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to all kinds of things – to books (it’s nearly as hard as a child, believe me), to churches, to movements. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions, to ministries. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically borne a child…When we enter into our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them.” – John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
If you’re reading this and you aren’t married, and you don’t have kids (like me), I hope this makes you smile too. My Facebook newsfeed might be full of newborn babies and engagement announcements each morning, but reading a quote like that reminds me that we’re all on different paths, and mine is mine for a reason. I’d like to think that I gave birth to the Roar movement, or the masking tape movement – which is what I’ll eventually have to call it when Katy Perry’s lawyers finally catch wind – and I have always had a tendency to mother my nearest and dearest. And today, while reading, I had a beautiful moment of realizing, accepting, and loving that about myself.
I hope one or more of these books offers you the same sort of moments.
Aloha and happy reading!
STAY TUNED FRIDAY, MARCH 28TH FOR THE RELEASE OF ROAR 2! I’M SO EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED!
I always used to get the best sweet potato recipes at Weight Watchers meetings.
Now, I’ve been to Weight Watcher meetings in Pennysylvania, and in New Jersey, and even in Hilton Head, South Carolina. But you ain’t never seen a Weight Watcher meeting like the ones they have in New York City. Those meetings involved iPads, lots of Powerpoint, and sometimes semi-formal attire.
Those bright blue, mod-chic, windowless rooms would be so filled with people that there weren’t enough chairs to seat everybody’s (hopefully shrinking) ass. There would be this insane line of people out the door – women jetting over after work, men running over during their lunch break, me killing time between auditions with a fully painted face – and all you would see in front and back of you was the the frantic stripping of jackets, belts, shoes, even jewelry, in antipation of that weekly weigh-in.
One at a time, each of us would step up to the scale, hold our breath, moan or cheer at the results, frantically pick up our entire wardrobe we’d thrown in a pile on the floor only moments before, and then sprint to find a seat before the meeting began.
We always started the meetings whether people were still in line to weigh in or not – we just had to, or we’d be waiting around all day. Our leader would step to the front of the room and introduce herself, tell us how much weight she’d lost and how long she’d been following the program, and proceed to bring up a weekly topic such as “cooking with new spices” or “summer drinks and mocktails”.
Each week, the leader would have the same three women stand up and tell all the newbies their name, how much weight they’d lost, and how long they’d been a member of Weight Watchers.
The same three women had been following the program religiously for like, thirty or forty years. They’d lost about fifty to a hundred pounds each, and they’d kept it off for like, twenty-nine or thirty-nine years, and they always had the best sweet potato recipes.
The leader introduced these same ladies every single week in order to inspire the rest of us in the room. “Look where you can end up with this program!” “See how a little counting and some walking can pay off?!” “If she can do it, so can you!” and all that jazz.
I always used to applaud the ladies while I looked down at my little weigh-in booklet, thinking to myself – it doesn’t matter that I ate four jars of Nutella this week if I still lost half a pound from not eating yesterday. If she can do it, so can I.
Later that night when I went out for a second dinner (after the one I shoveled in at home – meals after weigh-ins are taken very seriously – and by seriously, I mean there’s more than one of them) I would skip dessert thinking to myself, “if she can do it, so can I.”
And then when I ate half a gallon of ice cream before bed and threw the rest of it in the garbage in disgust, I looked at the melted mess in the trash proudly thinking, “if she can do it, so can I.”
For years I looked to those other ladies for inspiration, waiting for the day I could proudly stand in front of everyone at the meeting and say how long I’d been following the program and offer my own sweet potato recipe.
When I gave up on Weight Watchers for the fourth time around, I no longer had the sweet potato ladies for inspiration. So, I started looking elsewhere. There were always Victoria’s Secret models pasted to my fridge. Vision boards crafted from Self Magazine home-workouts and quotes about running would be propped up against my desk. I would sit in the holding room at auditions with hundreds of other girls and seek out the most perfect body in the room, fantasizing what I would book if I looked like that.
Never once did I look in the mirror at my own face, much less my own body, and find inspiration in my own expressions or my own curves. Never once did I look back through my personal journal entries or timeline of life events to find inspiration in my own journey. Never once did I think to myself, “look what I’ve done so far,” “look how much I’ve learned,” or “look how far I’ve come”.
Perhaps if I had, I would have noticed my own issues before I hit rock bottom.
I had blinders on. And those blinders were always focused on one thing. “If she/they/he/Jennifer Hudson can do it, so can I.”
I was always looking at everyone else with envy – wishing I looked like them, or ate like them, or ran like them. I never even noticed my world spinning out of control.
I bring all of this up because of how differently I look at things now. I didn’t realize that in finding my own strength, and facing my own demons, I have had to rely on myself for inspiration. I’ve had to look at my own life for encouragement at times, because it is the only thing there to remind me what I have overcome, meaning that if I had the strength to prevail at one point in my life, then I know I’ll have it again when I need it. This concept of seeking inspiration from within, is kind of, not something that was instilled in me for the first twenty-five years of my life.
Now, my friend Namaste brings her daughter to dance class at the studio where I teach almost every day of the week. We’ve become close in a short time because of all the time we both spend at the studio – and because she used to be a ballerina before she had her children.
Namaste was in a horrific car accident about four years ago – nearly destroying her ability to walk and causing life-long knee, neck, and joint problems. She definitely did not think she would ever dance again.
However something interesting has happened. I’m not sure if she started coming to my adult ballet classes because she felt bad I was a new teacher and I didn’t have many students, or if she started coming because she thought it was time to try getting back to the barre, but either way, she is dancing again.
This woman’s feet – my God, if you appreciate the feet of a ballerina – that perfect arch, that incredible relevé – you would die over Namaste’s feet. This woman’s posture – it beats my showgirl posture any day. And even if she hasn’t danced in many years, you can see that it’s all still there.
Now since mid-January, Namaste has gone from wearing knee braces just to do pliés at the barre, and marking the across the floor combinations, to turning and jumping and balancing for almost half of the class.
She doesn’t always see the progress. She often apologizes that she can’t get all the way up on the ball of her foot yet, and that she can’t do every single jump that we practice. But all I see, is beautiful, miraculous, inspiring progress.
So I tell her. I tell her every week how much I can see a difference and how amazing she looks.
Last week she finally took the compliment. She said, “you know, I can’t do it all yet. But I’m a lot farther now than I was three years ago.”
Three years ago, Namaste wasn’t driving, or walking, and most certainly not dancing.
And that’s what inspired me to write this post this week. Namaste has been through a journey people, but she was able to stop for a second – and look at how far she has come. She was able to stop apologizing and stop focusing on what she can’t do, long enough to smile and look at what she can do.
If she can take a pause in this busy world and find the inspiration inside herself to keep going, then why can’t I? Why can’t you?
Dare I say it, “if she can do it, so can we.”
It’s not about looking at everyone else’s highlight reel on Facebook. It’s not always about the miracle stories in the magazines and the forwarded emails and the Upworthy links. Those things have their place, but before all that, we can find inspiration right at home. It’s already inside of all of us.
Our own personal journey would probably inspire the masses if we each took the time to write a book about it. Why doesn’t it inspire us the same way?
Whether we realize it or not, we have our own highlight reel. A real, honest, unique highlight reel that includes the good and the bad. The shitty times and the celebrations. The bad boyfriends and the bad hangovers. The small victories and the big achievements.
And that’s the highlight reel we should be focusing on a little more. It’s lovely to congratulate our friends, and celebrate with our friends, and encourage our friends. But there’s a time and place for celebrating ourselves as well.
Look at how much we have done. Look at how much we have learned. Look at how far we have come.
My friend and writing mentor, Rae Gouirand, told me that she believes “the single most damaging idea facing the survival of creative culture is the idea that creative work comes from inspiration. That inspiration begets engagement.”
She says, “The truth is, most creative people I know live in a kind of perpetual terror of not being inspired, trying desperately to set themselves up for inspiration, when the truth is that external inspiration is almost always absent from most of our lives. My thesis: inspiration is best chased THROUGH the process itself. It is rare that I sit down feeling like I’m on fire, but if I start typing shit and get the right song on loop and no one interrupts me, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll find a flow where I feel happy.”
I’m not saying that we are all looking to sit down and write a novel here, but I love what she says about “chasing inspiration through the process itself.” Whatever you need, you have it. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s already inside of you. You just have to actively seek and find it within your daily life.
The definition of the word chase is “to pursue in order to seize or overtake; to follow or devote one’s attention to with the hope of attracting, winning or gaining.”
Seize your life. Overtake the desire to look elsewhere for inspiration. Follow your gut and search within the things you already know. There, you will find the hope, and the inspiration, that you’ve been seeking.
It’s worked for me. Now, let’s be real, it’s been actual work. This shit takes work. It’s not easy to look at all of the things I’ve seized and all the things that have almost overtaken me – but it’s definitely work that is worth it. It is absolutely necessary work.
It’s the work that saved my life, and it’s the work that makes me cherish the life I’m living right now.
“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Bada bing. Bada boom. You can always count on Elizabeth Gilbert to say it right.
The next time you look in the mirror, I hope that you recognize yourself as an inspiration. Because regardless if you see it now, or you see it five years from now, it’s already a fact. You are inspiration. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Whenever you are ready, take the time to chase that fact. Process that fact, love that fact, explore that fact – that fact that you are inspiration. It might take some work, but with time, your brain and your heart will accept this fact as truth, and everything will change. Everything.
I dare you to start the chase right now. Go look through your kitchen cabinet for your own sweet potato recipe. I bet you already have one hidden in there, and didn’t even remember.
Next week’s posting:
The Library That Saved My Life
So last week, I wrote about Johnny.
This week, he wrote about me. He even came up with this week’s title. Ladies and gents, a guest blog post from the man I’m dating, Johnny Burkhart.
Beauty & The Beast
What It’s Like To Date A Woman Recovering From An Eating Disorder
When Amanda asked me to write a guest blog, I was hesitant to say the least. Could I really be honest about what it’s like to date a woman with a binge eating disorder and would she still love me afterwards? I pray that the latter part is true.
Another reason I was hesitant was because she wanted me to respond to an article entitled 5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder written by an anonymous guy on the misogynistic website “Return of Kings”. The author of the article, who writes under an alias (ahem, coward), claims to “specialize in dating culture and social intelligence”. Before I read the article, I glanced at the comments below it which were strewn with hate for this anonymous guy and disgust for the article. Alrighty then, this oughta be great. After I read the actual article, I realized this guy had no idea what he was talking about. The article did not contain any intelligence, but was possibly his attempt at humor? One can only hope.
Apparently any idiot can spew out a bunch of nonsense and have it posted on the internet. So why shouldn’t I give it a shot?
This post is in no way a response to that article, and if you have any sense at all, you will totally ignore that article and not give it any more energy than it has already received. What I have written below is simply my experience dating Amanda and is not a blanket statement about what it’s like to date women with eating disorders or specifically binge eating disorders.
Honestly Though! – One of the things that most attracted me to Amanda was her honesty. I don’t think we would be together today if it weren’t for her brutal honesty. I read her blog before we ever went on our first date, so I knew what kind of craziness I was signing up for. I was in awe of how honest she was in her blog, and even face to face with people. It’s truly inspiring and sometimes a little scary, especially when she writes about me in her blog.
Something that came to me after reading her blog was that I had grown up with a binge eater. I had never called it that or thought of it in the terms she puts it in, but my mother was/is a binge eater. I watched her slowly put on the pounds as I grew up and saw the toll that it took on her body. She is now in recovery for it and working on getting healthier which I am incredibly proud of her for.
This realization caught me off guard, and I was afraid that if Amanda found out, she wouldn’t want to date me. I was afraid that she might think that I was trying to heal some old shit with my mother – which could be true, let’s face it – and that she wouldn’t want any part of it. I mean, we did meet when we were at a retreat center where she came to do some major healing around her ED. But I knew that honesty was the only course of action here, so I told her.
Honesty plays a big role in our relationship today and it has to. It has to go both ways. We have to be honest with each other. That could be said for any relationship really, but when you’re dating a binge eater that is especially true. Even when it’s hard and I feel that pit in the bottom of my stomach, no pun intended, I know that I have to be honest with Amanda. So bear with me as I get real honest about some shit here.
Shame vs. Accountability “You ate all the cookies?!!” – When we first started dating, Amanda told me that I couldn’t say “anything” to her about her food decisions. I understand that shame plays a big role with women who have ED’s, I get it! But there’s a fine line between shame and accountability when you date/live with a woman who is a binge eater.
There are times when I bite my tongue because I don’t want risk her feeling shamed by me. Look, I don’t want to sound like her mother or anything. But we do share food and expenses, so there does need to be some form of accountability for what we consume. So when I ask where all the Fudge Mint Cookies are, I am not trying to shame her. I just want some fucking cookies!
I have learned to know when to pick my battles. Sometimes you can’t win, no matter what, you just can’t! When she does eat all the cookies, I know better than to say “why did you eat all the cookies, what were you thinking?” That would be shaming. I have also learned that if she buys cupcakes and there’s only one left, I better not eat it without asking her first or there will be hell to pay.
Now, when she asks if we can go get some ice cream, I know better than to say to her, “Really? Ice cream? Is that such a great choice right now?” I either say “Yeah, let’s go get some ice cream”, or “No thanks.” It can be that simple. I know better than to try and play her mom and monitor her food choices – I think that’s part of the reason we’re in this whole mess in the first place. That’s not my job nor do I ever want that job. My job is to love her no matter what her food choices are that day or that moment and to try to encourage her to be the best she can be.
The Emotional Roller Coaster Ride – They say that women are ruled by their emotions, and having an eating disorder just adds to that equation. Dating a woman with an ED can be quite the emotional roller coaster. The ups and downs, good decisions followed by bad decisions, craziness and uncertainty make for some interesting times.
There are days when she feels good about herself and she makes good decisions. She’s confident and it seems nothing can get in her way. Those are the days when she loves me and I can do nothing wrong, she’s supportive and nonjudgmental. Even if I say the wrong thing to her she can just laugh it off.
Then there are the days when she doesn’t want to get out of bed, let alone get dressed. She makes unhealthy decisions, like eating cake just before going to sleep. She has zero confidence in herself or what she’s doing in life. Those are the days when if I make the slightest comment about anything she wants to kill me and I would rather be anywhere else but by her side. Thankfully there are less of these days and more of the good days or I might have to reconsider the situation.
Amanda is one of the most ambitious and positive people I have ever met or had the pleasure of being in a relationship with. But when she has bad days, there’s not much I can say or do to bring her out of it. As much as possible, I try and let her find her own solutions to things and encourage her to look inside at what’s really going on. I know from experience that people need to really sit in their shit and feel it before they are ready to come out of it.
The same fire that fuels her passion for dance and performing is also at the heart of her addiction in some way.
“It is a beast, this thing that stirs in the core of her being, but it is also the star of her innermost nature. We have to care for this suffering with extreme reverence so that, in our fear and anger at the beast, we do not overlook the star.” – Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
Body Image & Sex – When I was 19 years old, I told my live-in girlfriend that if she got fat that I would leave her. OK, OK, put down your weapons ladies! That was a long time ago and I have learned to be more compassionate. I’d also like to think I’ve gotten a lot smarter about how to talk to women. Key word, “think”.
Many years later, I find myself in a relationship with a woman whose weight has slowly but steadily increased since we began dating. Now I would never say anything to her about this because it really doesn’t matter to me anymore. I find her just as sexy and attractive as when we first began dating.
Sexy to me isn’t about being rail thin or starving yourself or working out 8 hours a day. Sexy to me is about how you carry yourself, the love that you share with others and being emotionally present. Amanda has that; I mean did you see her Roar performance? This woman has got that attitude and drive that just does it for me and it doesn’t matter what the number on the scale says.
Amanda has asked me before if I think she is fat or has gained weight but I don’t take the bait. I’m not going to stand over her shoulder as she steps on the scale either. It’s not my job or place to say if she’s gained weight or needs to lose a few pounds. Again, my job is to love her just the way she is, fat, thin, clear skin, or broken out.
I’m not saying it’s always easy because it’s not. Having sex with someone who just engulfed a bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate chips doesn’t exactly do it for me. Then there’s the days she wants to make out in the morning with a huge whitehead on her upper lip from binging on chocolate the night before. “Um… hey babe maybe you uh… can you take care of that before we uh… um I mean have you uh… oh boy!” Thankfully those times are the exceptions and not the rule.
The “D” Word – Recently Amanda asked me if I would be willing to do an Intolerance Test with her. Not sure what she was talking about I asked her to explain what that meant. She proceeded to tell me how you weren’t allowed to have any gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, bread, processed foods, or bananas for 3 weeks. Oh, and no eating out at restaurants either, my personal favorite. “Well,” I said, “as fun as that sounds, I don’t really like doing Diets!”. Then the earth actually stopped spinning for a few seconds and she said “IT’S NOT A DIET! It’s an intolerance test don’t call it a Diet!” Yep, I actually said the “D” word to a binger, my bad.
Not realizing what the “D” word meant to someone with an eating disorder, I had some back peddling to do here. I proceeded to tell her that I would help support her in any way I could without actually doing the intolerance test with her the whole time. I’m willing to try some new recipes and things but giving all that up for 3 weeks basically amounted to torture to me. I’m of the philosophy of everything in moderation.
Amanda used to tell me about her experiences with trying to cut out sugar and desserts and how that would just lead to more bingeing. So I wasn’t so gung ho about this intolerance test to begin with. She would always say that it’s better to have some of her favorite foods around just in case the cravings came on and she could try and hit them off at the pass before full bingeing mode kicked in.
So a few days later she started her “intolerance test” and the fun began. I really should have seen it coming. It hit me like that magical visit from Aunt Flo each month. When you take away sugar and all the deliciousness of most foods away from a binger, it’s not a pretty picture at first. Luckily that only lasted a couple days.
I was surprised that she even wanted to try it, given her history of trying food restriction, and I was honestly skeptical of the whole thing. She eventually settled into it though and seems to be hitting her stride now. She really is handling it amazingly well. It speaks volumes for her recovery that she is able to stick with it, and I am so proud of her for that.
So #Blessed – One of our closest friends, John Reardon, was the catalyst for our relationship. He is always saying to me how blessed Amanda is to have me in her life. I can literally feel Amanda’s eyes roll back in her skull and cringe every time he says this or texts it to me. But like, it’s true. Some of you know or have experienced what it’s like to be in a relationship where you don’t feel supported by the other person OR their behavior just seems to trigger you into doing things you shouldn’t. When you find the “right” person, they should lift you up and encourage you, not trigger your bad habits and addictions. I think, (again, key word, “think”), that I lift Amanda up instead of triggering her, and that’s why John always says how blessed she is to have me in her life.
I am also so blessed to have Amanda in my life. Her love and enthusiasm for life are infectious and I am so inspired by her. So much so, that I agreed to learn a duet tap dance with her for the May recital with the dance studio she’s teaching at – in front of an actual audience. I have mixed feelings about this decision, but it’s all happening now, so I’m just gonna go with it. I was also inspired by her to write this post and put it out there to you all. All of her passion and love for life make all of the craziness of her ED seem so insignificant.
“The uniqueness of a person is made up of the insane and twisted as much as it is of the rational and normal.” Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul
You see, Amanda and I are both a little twisted and insane, but in a way that supports each other. And for that, we are both so blessed.
Seriously Though! – Dating a woman who is recovering from an eating disorder isn’t as scary as it might seem. As I started out saying here, the key is really all about honesty. Like Amanda always says, “everyone has their shit” that they are dealing with – some more than others. But if you’re honest about your shit, it makes all the difference in the world. Hiding your shit really only makes things worse in the end.
So ladies and gents, if you think that hiding an eating disorder or an addiction from the person you are dating is a good thing, or the safe thing, I want you to reconsider. I strongly encourage you to share your shit with your partner. It may help explain some of the crazy shit you do from time to time. I know that if I didn’t know what Amanda was dealing with, I would have been out the door a long time ago. Knowing what she’s going through allows me to be more compassionate with her when she’s acting like a crazy bitch. Seriously though!
I don’t try and heal Amanda. That’s not the intention here. You are honest not so your partner can help fix you, but to bear witness to what you are going through. I’ve dated, and was even married, to women who were a closed book and would never reveal what was really going on, not even to a therapist. They carried a lot of extra baggage around to basically try and save some face. It eventually catches up to all of us at some point. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m thankful everyday for Amanda’s honesty – even when things are rough between us – because it’s the foundation of our relationship and the reason our love is so strong to this day.
Let me just remind you – like I remind Amanda often – of the second agreement of The Four Agreements: Don’t make assumptions. You cannot assume what your friends or your significant other will think if you open up to them about your issues. Never assume. And if you open up to them, and they make an ass out of you, then seriously though, they are NOT worth your time.
Well, I think I covered all the ground I wanted to here. I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to close this all up, but I’m a little stuck, so I’m just gonna let Bob Marley do the talking.
Lots of aloha from Hawaii,
Next Week’s Posting:
I’m not sure but I’m sure Amanda has something good to say