...and the fat closed in around the sword

"Okay. There is no right way to say this..."

I stayed on the surface of my best friend's opening words just long enough to contemplate darting out of the ocean-front restaurant, jumping into the water and dying. But that would have been too easy, and I don't do easy things. Plus, I hate the sand. So instead, I stared into Laura's eyes as she continued on, bracing myself, hoping and praying she wouldn't say the thing...

"I love you and I can tell that you are miserable. I'm so sorry."

I've been here before - that sinking, paralyzing, infuriating stab to the gut when someone spells out our demons. It's the one that makes us feel seen, too seen. Found out. Held tighter than we're comfortable with. And even though it was said with such love, my body reacted the same way it does when I've heard things like:

 "No, actually, you're failing Pre-Algebra.",  "Your checking account balance is minus one hundred forty-five dollars" "I don't have feelings for you anymore", "We've offered the position to someone else..."

I sank into the padded chair, and I felt a nudge from deep in my bones that said, stay. It'll all be okay. Just listen...

I haven't known how to tell you, and I'm so sorry if this is hurtful. Even your breathing is different, I can hear the heaviness. I love you at ANY size, and yet I can see you're in a lot of pain in your body. I can see it in your eyes.
And I don't think you're in recovery from your eating disorder, I think you're in the thick of your eating disorder."

I could feel my face run white. My finger tips, numb. And my heart, already so heavy, heavier. I heard the planet crack, or maybe it was just my knuckles as I yanked them, looking for some relief while my spirit suddenly felt so small and my body felt so big, too big. And yet, I sat. And listened deeply. It doesn't take much for me to cry, so I went ahead and did that.

The thing is, when something, especially words, pierces the body, all of its resources rush to the wound like a pack of detectives. Blood and fat cells gather round, collecting information on mini notepads, asking things like, what do we got? How long has she been like this? Someone grab a blanket to keep her warm. It's like a committee - the committee dedicated to the healing and restoration of my body and my soul. Each of us as one, and sometimes is takes a friend to call them in from eating donuts in the 7-Eleven parking lot. (Thank you, Laura). 

So my friends and readers and students and someone who knows someone who knows someone who stumbled upon this blog, I am Erica Jacobs; a Yoga Teacher, Essential Oil Educator, Eating Psychology Counselor and freakishly funny woman, struggling with an eating disorder. I don't want to be alone in this, so as long as my publishing my recovery doesn't hinder my healing, I have chosen to share my journey on the interwebs.

I thank you for being a part of this committee who closes in tight to help set me free.

Grace and Peace,

Erica

The Myth of Emotional Eating

I'll be brief and I'm not gonna sugarcoat this, because I love you. And I love me. And I've already spend years and years perfecting eating in shame, chronically dieting, binge eating and listening to everyone else, except me, when it came to my relationship with food. I've done all this, so you don't have to. You're welcome :)

If we ever hope to break free of food rules, diet culture and body image issues, we need to be willing to redirect and see things differently. Amen? 

I'm assuming (sorry) that somewhere, somehow, you learned from someone's Great Aunt Beverly that Emotional Eating is something to be avoided, ashamed of and even punished for. 

The act of putting a Milky Way or a Ding Dong (does anyone eat those anymore?)  in your face because you're stressed is somehow a reflection of who you are and how you have no discipline and you're ruining your life. 

First of all, it's not true. It's not true. Again, it's NOT true. 

The problem is not that we are emotional eaters; the problem is us confusing 'emotional eating' with 'shameful eating'. 

Let's explore the difference...

 

I AM AN EMOTIONAL EATER WHEN I...

* eat when I'm bored

* eat past the point of fullness because the meal taste so good

* eat when I'm not hungry, so that I don't miss out on family dinners or outings, where everyone else is eating

* think about food/plan my next meal while I'm eating a current meal or have just eaten

 

Now, watch for the subtle but distinct difference between

Emotional Eating and Shameful Eating:

 

I AM A SHAMEFUL EATER WHEN I...

* eat when I'm bored...and consider myself to be "bad" for it. 

* I eat past the point of fullness because the meal taste so good...and I feel compelled to exercise and burn off what I ate or I promise myself somewhere deep inside that I will never do this again. 

* I eat when I'm not hungry, so that I don't miss out on family dinners or outings, where everyone else is eating...and I end up bingeing because of my belief that if I eat when I'm not hungry I have failed intuitive eating/willpower/listening to my body perfectly. 

* I think about food/plan my next meal while I'm eating a current meal or have just eaten...and I am unable to find pleasure in my present meal. In fact, I feel distracted, displeased, anxious or irritable until my next meal. 

Friends. Not only is Emotional Eating not the enemy, it is NECESSARY, because food is love. It is comfort. It is meant to be pleasurable and deeply enjoyed- why else do we have taste buds?? It's like, why would we thousands have nerve endings on our genitalia if sex was ONLY meant for procreation?? It's the same. And also I wanted an excuse to mention sex stuff. 

Our relationship with food is complex and fascinating and infuriating and dazzling. Take my advice, just for today: (Did you even ask for my advice?) Be proud, so utterly proud, of your ability and your desire to eat with your emotions. To be connected to the earth, its bounty and the people who inhabit it, in such a special way. That's all you need to do today. 

You with me? Yikes? Hallelujah? Meh?

With love,

Erica 

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

 

A Binge Eater Walks Up to a Donut Buffet

*On experiencing my first wedding reception donut buffet, as a recovered Binge Eater*

Like a drunken Prom Queen tripping over the train of her dress to collect her crown, I bolt from the dance floor, rush to the glorious donut shrine and stand in awe. I grab the way-too-small dessert plate from the stack and press it close to my cleavage, like a teenage girl nervously clutches her school books, as the boy she's in love with passes her in the hall.

They're all so pretty, they sparkle and I swear one just winked at me.

My eyes widen and my heart beats a little faster. I'm Excited. I'm Nervous. I'm hungry for a donut. And like a gaggle of mourners at an Amish funeral, a crowd forms around the oval table these round beauties rest on. That's when I hear the rumble of food shaming comments and the noisy arguments of, "Oh, this is dangerous." "Okay, I'll have one bite, but then we have to dance hard to burn this off." "Allen, take this away from me. You eat the rest. I can't be trusted." "You know I have no self-control." "No, you can't eat that, it's full of sugar." "Oh. Gluten."

I remember when I said those things. I remember promising to be 'good'. I remember chewing food and feeling proud for not swallowing it. I remember how much my throat burned when I did swallow, and ran to the bathroom to un-swallow it. I remember all the nights I sneaked into pantries and lost myself in a box of Oreos, or a pot of spaghetti, or an entire rectangle of cheese, or a jar of peanut butter. I remember crying on the kitchen floor, often. I remember when food was bad, and my body was bad and my appetite was bad and donuts were bad and I was bad and everything was bad.

My head is full of the useless chatter and I wonder what people will think of me when they see me take a bunch of donuts for myself. They'll think I'm still a binge eater. They're feel sorry for me, yet proud of themselves. Like, the whole, "Yea I ate a donut, but at least I didn't eat as much as Erica..." I'm about to put my plate down and run back to the safety of the dance floor, where I can burn more calories instead of ingesting them. And that's when I hear the voice; "Go ahead, honey. Take exactly what you want. It's okay. This is normal, now. You're not sick anymore, remember?" This is the new voice I listen to. She's new here. She's the food/body-positive parent I never had, and she came to stay with me when I was in recovery for my eating disorder. She helps me a lot.

I take a deep breath and turn my plate level, readying it for my selections...

The pink one with sprinkles matches my nail polish; I'll have that one. And the caramel one is the same color as my eyes; I want that one, as well. This other one is glazed and shines bright like a diamond in good lighting, just like me; I'll grab that one, too. This one in the corner looks kind of plain but I'll bet there's good inside; Mine. Coconut-covered? Why not! BACON-sprinkled? Um, duh!

Piled high to the starry, summer sky, I carefully walk my teetering donuts back to my table and arrange all nine of them in a line. I take one bite of each, noticing the vast and subtle differences in taste, texture, flavor and appearance. I like the pink one with sprinkles, best. I offer up the remaining eight donuts, who were now one bite shy of a full circle, and my table mates are thankful. And confused. And drunk.

I sit back in my chair and take bites of my pink sprinkled donut, knowing this is just enough for me. I'm eating exactly what I want. No need to binge. No urge to purge. No reason to cry on my kitchen floor. No big deal. It's not a special occasion that makes donuts okay...it's me who makes donuts okay to eat.

I smile enough to pick a stray blue sprinkle stuck between my teeth, when I hear the voice again- that voice that had found its way back to me, by the grace of God, just when I thought I could never get well. Through blaring music, loud, silly wedding guests and clanking glassware, I heard her. Loud and clear: 'I trust you with food, Erica.' Your body is good. Food is good. Donuts are so good. Your appetite is good. Remember? I trust you with food, Erica. I trust you with life.   

Wholeheartedly,

Erica

I Remem...

"I remem..." By, Erica Jacobs

I remember when I didn't have a cell phone

and I wasn't sexually active

and life was simpler,

maybe. 

 

When I'd read storybooks to my stuffed animals,

present each page like my teacher did 

at school. 

 

I remember wedding albums;

my Parents',

her parents',

their parents'. 

I wanted that 

I want that. 

 

I remember my Belle and Beast

figurines

dancing at their pretend wedding

on top of my boom box

to "The Hustle".

I wanted a floor length gown, too;

but not yellow. 

 

I remember the first time I weighed myself 

100lbs. 

Is that too high? 

It's too high. 

Right?

 

The Cinnamon Toast Crunch

so high up, too high up.

I remember the loudness 

of the step stool.  

Bowl

after bowl

after bowl

after bowl. 

 

I remember sleepovers 

"Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board" 

"Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board"

I'm anything 

but light as a feather. 

 

I remember the first time

I stopped 

when I was full

Waited to feel hungry again. 

 

And I did feel hungry again

so I ate. 

Stopped when I felt full. 

Eat. 

Stop. 

Repeat. 

 

Eat. 

Stop. 

Repeat. 

 

Eat. 

Talk. 

Stop. 

Repeat. 

 

Eat. 

Watch TV. 

Laugh. 

Stop. 

Still hungry. 

Eat. 

Repeat. 

 

I remember what it took

to slow down,

to listen,

to chew,

to breathe. 

 

Food,

turns out,

is just food. 

 

So I focus

on other things;

I still want a floor length gown,

a white one. 

And a cake. 

And a groom. 

And a wooden floor

where we dance the Hustle. 

 

You remember 

where I'm going with this...

 

Wholeheartedly,

Erica