Friendship Hotline: Real Texts. Real People. Real Friendships.

 

"Friendship Hotline, Erica speaking! How can I help you?"

Person who's just like you & me:

I have an old childhood friend that I haven't spoken to much in six months. We've been friends since we were little, always thought we'd be maid of honor in each other's weddings, etc. But it's not like that anymore. We've just lost things in common except for our spirit...just on extremely different life paths...

I harbor some ill will because in almost six months of living in my new apartment she hasn't asked how it is or congratulated me....yet she's gotten upset in the past for me not keeping the friendship alive and keeping in touch so that's made me not want to ask how she's doing---

yesterday I decided to extend an olive branch and text her to say I love the pictures she's posted recently and hope she's well yet I've received no response back and she's found the time to post on facebook. It just reaffirms to me how she is only interested in herself. "It just reaffirms to me how she is only interested in herself- she once posted a status saying she will no longer be answering people's texts because she receives too many. I'm examining my feelings and I feel annoyed and hurt but maybe she's not ready cuz she feels slighted by me like I do by her. Idk it's just always all about her.

And I wanna just say goodbye to the friendship and what it was because its easier and were two different people now but then I wonder well will I invite her to my future wedding because she's my oldest friend? Like idk---I'm just mourning the loss

 

My Response:

I hear you loud and clear. I pulled 2 bits that I want to shine a light on because they affect the rest of it:

1. "I harbor some ill will because in almost six months of living in my new apartment she hasn't asked how it is or congratulated me"

When we set expectations for people's behavior, based on what WE would do, we set ourselves up for disappointment and upset every time. It doesn't mean we shouldn't feel hurt by it, it just means that unless we make our feelings and needs known to someone, we don't really have anywhere to put those feelings if someone doesn't meet our expectations. (This goes for ANY relationship) 

2. "It just reaffirms to me how she is only interested in herself- she once posted a status saying she will no longer be answering people's texts because she receives too many"

Personally, if she posted something like this on Facebook, is her friendship "style" and her clear lack of value for friendship even in line with your values and what YOU'RE looking for in a friendship?

My philosophy is, move toward the people who move toward you. (I DON'T mean wait for others to show they love you before you show them back. NO NO NO. We definitely do not withhold love out of spite. Like, no.

I mean, despite any hopes, dreams and expectations for what friendship was going to look like, (being in each others weddings, etc.) look at the reality and move toward people who are making an effort to move toward you.

Perhaps it's not time to move toward each other today…?

Person who's just like you & me:

Wow yes I agree with all of this. I guess it's in my nature to want to give love and I've been trying to live out what you once said to me which is to not wait for people to move toward me or generate plans or cultivate a friendship and just do it if u want. So I have been, but I guess sometimes in doing that we can get disappointed in how someone reacts

My Response:

Yes. It's both. Nothing (especially relationships) is black & white!

Sometimes we extend the olive branch even if it's not extended back to us (WITHOUT expectations or resentment!)  and other times, we don't because we value people who also extend branches to us.

Person who's just like you & me:

It's hard to fluctuate between the two sides, you know? Because I like black and white a lot of the times....do u find it hard to not harbor resentment should you put yourself out there and not get what u wanted in return?

My Response:

Not anymore; I don't take things AS personal as I used to. And I'm more mindful about my intentions behind doing things. Like, am I doing this with an expectation of something in return? Or am I truly doing this out of my purest heart? 

It's not bad to want love in return! In fact, we must receive love in return for ours. But everyone's love language and values are different. When we set parameters around specific behavior that we expect from others, that's where we need to check our intentions in the first place.

Person who's just like you & me:

How did u get to that disciplined mindful place? I'm trying so hard now through reciting daily affirmations specifically regarding my romantic relationship but it's so hard to be mindful and honest w yourself and not just say 'fuck it I'm gonna do this and if they don't give me in return then fuck them.' But I know that's unhealthy. I'm trying to not be like that anymore.

My Response:

One day, one conversation, one situation at a time, girl. 

Nothing is permanent and we're just humans who have needs. 

I'm not any more disciplined than anyone else; I just don't make the time to suffer in my relationships (IN GENERAL). There is still plenty of suffering but it's more situation-based, not relationship-based. Meaning, things come up in healthy relationships that need to be addressed, but the relationship itself is healthy. The friendship is reciprocal enough for me. If it's not, well, then obviously the level and the type of friendship will naturally change into something else.

It can be organic and natural. It doesn't have to be "I'm just not gonna be like this anymore". That's too black & white for our precious and fragile little hearts.

I know your heart. I know where it all comes from for you, friend. and you're amazing just the way you are. You're enough, your love is enough and there's nothing about you that you need to "fix". You're not broken. We are all evolving and life/relationships are a process. No need to rush or drastically change the process! Let things unfold...

Person who's just like you & me:

Beautifully said....sometimes I wish I could hang out with you in person and hear this while looking at you, lol. I like coming back to these kinds of texts they make me feel good. 

My Response:

<3 I'm SO glad to hear this. I Love you. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Person who's just like you & me:

Nope.

My Response:

Great! Thanks for agreeing to be here!

*END*

Comment below if you can relate or have any thoughts, questions, concerns, etc.!

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

 

"Try Another Door" A Darker Poem

Photo by: Rodion Kutsaev

Photo by: Rodion Kutsaev

“Try Another Door” by, Erica Jacobs

I am a dollhouse.

Mulberry wine paneling,

smooth, brown shingles,

crisp, white shutters.

 

Modest mailbox on my manicured lawn,

White, picket fence,

porch swing.

I don’t open from the front…

Try another door.

 

Ready, set, turn me around.

Do my outsides match my insides?

 

Spoiled, sour, stale

milk.

Cruddy, crazed, crushed

cookware.

Broken, busted, baby

dolls.

 

Jagged spider web mouths

hover over a chandelier.

Chipped, checkered floor,

now an ugly grey…

Try another door.

 

Smelly, soggy, stained

bedding.

Cracked, crooked, coarse

canopy.

Dusty, dingy, dirty

bedposts.

 

No one

wants to sleep here.

No one

wants to be here.

Try another door.

 

Dilapidated, damaged, decayed

figurines.

 

next to a

 

Slanted, severed, smashed

cradle.

 

Watery, wilting, wasting

wallpaper

 

behind

 

Dense, damned, destroyed

Bookcases.

Try another door.

 

Empty wooden rocking horse

calls out,

for one last ride.

 

Who did this to me?

How did I get here?   

 

Compartmentalized,

boxed,

broken,

dark

It’s hot in here.

 

Please

someone

open a…

 

Someone…

try…

another…

 

A Word (or 1,496) About Intuitive Eating

March, 2012 So then she said to me, she says, "You have unconditional permission to eat what you want, when you want it". I looked at her like she was nuts and burst into laughter. A Nutritionist telling me, a binge eater and chronic dieter, that I could eat whatever I want whenever I want was like a Prison Guard telling an inmate on death row that he can, just, like, leave prison. I probably even said that to her. She explained to me that I'd be adopting the principles of Intuitive Eating; a nutrition philosophy based on becoming more attuned to my body's natural hunger/satiety signals, rather than counting calories, obsessing over food, etc. So I said to her, "I don't think I can do that." And she replied, "I think you can." And I said, "We'll see."


Intuitive Eating: Eating when you're hungry, stopping when you're satisfied--the exact same mechanism we're born with. I truly couldn't fathom it. Up until 2012, I had spent eleven years actively trying to lose weight. I had taken pills, powders, undergone hypnosis, body wraps, taken more pills, exercised like a lunatic...I was exhausted and miserable and I still felt fat (of course). Food was always an issue for me. Growing up in two separate households, under two sets of rules and beliefs around food, I was under-fed at one house and over-fed at the other. Binge eating in between. Nothing was balanced. There was no harmony when it came to walking into a kitchen or opening a fridge. I don't share this for pity. I share this because food, eating, our body (and how we feel about it) is complicated. It's confusing. And the holidays complicate things further, for many reasons.

For years, the holidays meant one thing to me: At least four months of complete insanity around food and my body image. It's always felt like very fertile ground for disordered eating patterns and the need for justification (and validation) around food choices. Whether it was sly comments from my extended family over how many latkes I was eating, to perfect strangers at Yoga studios asking the day after Thanksgiving if I'm ready to "burn off what I ate yesterday", eating with intuition and making peace with my plate this time of year is really rough...EVEN as an Eating Psychology  Counselor. Probably because of it, actually.

For those who struggle with disordered eating, (or anyone, really) it's easy to feel overwhelmed and even a bit scared of the holidays approaching. That's why we need to have an open discussion about Intuitive Eating, now, so you have some tools to allow yourself a peaceful relationship to/with food and a satisfied belly this holiday season. Want to?

So, what's Intuitive Eating, again? Intuitive eating is a nutrition philosophy based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body's natural hunger/satiety signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than counting calories. Intuitive eating goes by many names, my favorites are: non-dieting or the non-diet approach, normal eating, wisdom eating and conscious eating.

The best place to start on an Intuitive Eating journey is (and this does sound nutso, whacky) to have UNCONDITIONAL PERMISSION TO EAT WHAT YOU WANT...WHEN YOU WANT IT. For many people who've struggled with chronic dieting, binge eating, compulsive over/under eating and body image issues, food has often been labeled "good"or "bad", regardless of how well our body responds to the food and how much pleasure it genuinely brings to us. So, when we remove such labels and allow our bodies to tell us when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat, we take the power away from food/body and the shame society places around it. This makes our relationship with food, our family, our friends and our culture more peaceful, thus helping your body find it's natural, happy and sustainable weight.

Here are some very basic things to start with...

SIX tools you need to eat intuitively:

*A CLEAN, ORGANIZED KITCHEN. In last week's post, I talked about the process of cleaning out my kitchen, as directed in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Tidying up the kitchen is important for knowing where EVERYTHING is, making sure you only have the tools that spark joy and rid yourself of old belief patterns; diet pills, laxative teas and anything that suggests rigid rules around food. We cannot have a harmonious relationship with food or our body if the place where we prepare our food is out of whack and full of old beliefs. Like, sure, you could meditate in a porta-potty, but do you really want to?

*ACTUAL GROCERIES. This one can be tough but it's really important for our sanity (and our wallet). The best way I can define actual groceries is simply a plan for the week. Perhaps this includes a list or a general knowledge of what YOU enjoy having in your fridge. For many people who experience binge eating, or any kind of restrictive behavior around food, food can often be scarce or overly plentiful, but without consistency in either direction or a balance. When we make a list of what we'll need for the week, or even the next few days, and shop accordingly, deciding what to eat becomes easier and mealtime as a whole becomes less of a heartbreaking, frustrating pain in the ass.

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*A ROUTINE. Everyone's schedule is different, so I won't go overboard with this category. By routine, I mean be aware of what promotes a calm and decisive approach to a meal. For example, I've always been an early riser yet that doesn't mean I'm physically hungry for breakfast right when I wake up. I like to have a cup of tea, do some writing and THEN think about what I'd like to eat. Pick a routine that works for you, keeping within the guidelines of eating exactly what you're hungry for, when you're hungry and stopping when satisfied.

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*AN INTENTION. Why are you in the kitchen? What are you wanting to accomplish? What do you value while you're in there? (I know, now I'm getting a bit carried away with the existential questions). But seriously. If your experience in the kitchen has ever been stressful and caused you panic, setting a little intention never hurt anyone--just as every hippy-dippy Yoga teacher in LA. Pick something very simple and be prepared to change it each time you sit down to a meal. For example: I intend to chew my food slowly, so I may thoroughly enjoy all the flavors.

*AN ATMOSPHERE. Different than a clean and organized kitchen, the atmosphere is more the "mood" or "tone" of the kitchen/eating space. Take a quick survey of your typical eating atmosphere. Is the TV on? Is your phone next to you?  What's the lighting situation? Does the kitchen table/eating space have other things on it, other than your plate? Whatever it usually is, ask yourself, Does this work for me? Would I prefer a different ambiance? KEEP IN MIND: Intuitive, relaxed eating CAN take place while watching TV and other distractions. Please know that the TV, phone, bright lights, kids running around, etc. are NOT detrimental to the Intuitive Eating Process, BUT it takes practice. So, especially as the holidays approach, play a little bit with what most relaxes you and keeps you in tune with your body's hunger/satiety cues and signals.

*ACCOUNTABILITY. We're not in this life alone, so we ought not to be "in the kitchen" alone (and I mean this metaphorically, for the most part.) This is hard. What I found, in my experience, was that having people in my life who "get it" is crucial to building a healthy relationship with food. Though we cannot control what other people say and believe about food/body (especially this time of year) it does help to surround yourself with people who not only support your right to listen to your own body when it comes to food selection and quantity, but hold you accountable to it. This can often come in the form of a dear friend, a nutritionist who specializes in Intuitive Eating, or an Eating Psychology Counselor, such as myself, whom also specializes in Intuitive Eating. Obviously. You're not alone in this. Just saying.

We're not done with this discussion, but this is a great start. This is the start of a new and healthy relationship with food. This is the process that will help get you where you need and want to go, with peace, nachas and joy. (Had to throw some Yiddish in there!)

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*Are the holidays a stressful time for you in the kitchen? Do you want to experience a more joyful, relaxed, and content holiday season around the dinner table? Unsure if you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating? Let's talk! I specialize in Binge Eating, Chronic Dieting, Body Image and Digestion and am available Monday-Thursday, 9am-6pm. More details here.

The Red Circle Philosophy

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If I marked 2014 with an emblem or logo, I’d choose a Big Red Circle.  As a shape, circles represent wholeness, protection, initiation, mobility, all-inclusive unity, everything. Circles characterize revolutions around the sun as we waltz through rhythms of time. With not-so-primitive understanding, we saw our first circles; our Mother’s eyes, the moon, the sun, the dots in the skies as stars, and realized even beauty can be spoken in a circular language. As for Red, Red is high energy. It excites our senses and motivates us to take action. Red is the color of physical movement, and it awakens our life force.

Clearly, I’ve had quite a year.

As the Director of My Gym, a children’s fitness center, I have the incredible pleasure of connecting with over two hundred children and their families. And I mean the WHOLE family; parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nannies and distant cousins, twice removed. I also know and remember all their names, as if I've known them for years. I witness first steps and hear first words. I smile as parents sing “I'm a Little Teapot” with a sweet hint of nostalgia. I encourage my students to wonder about the world around them. I inquire about favorite sea animals, biggest fears and silliest memories. I hearten imagination, patience and kindness. All of this happens within the Big Red Circle in the middle of the room. From this circle, I am consistently challenged and inspired to see the world through a different lens. Its heart work, but someone has to do it.

If you've been following my blog for the past year, it should come as no surprise to you I'd die to speak at a TED conference. TED is a non-profit global set of conferences, welcoming people from all walks of life to give short, powerful talks. TED operates under the slogan: "Ideas Worth Spreading", and it’s no surprise TED’s logo is indeed a Big Red Circle. Ironically, if all I need is a Big Red Circle, something powerful to say and a willing audience, it appears I've in fact given about 1,152 TED talks this year. (I wish you could have been in my head during the 15 minutes it took me to calculate that.)

Cool story, Erica. What's your point?

For 2015, I challenge you to find YOUR Big Red Circle; that place where you are forever changed and enlightened. Find the spot of genuine intimacy and memory-making where you feel most comforted, tested, inspired and needed. In so many ways, I have found my circle and I wholeheartedly invite you to find yours. And to me, THAT is anIdea Worth Spreading”.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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