my yoga studio is doing a book discussion next friday, on women, food, and god by geneen roth. I finally went out and bought it yesterday, and began reading it today. I’m about fifty pages in. although several passages stuck out to me, this one in particular has lodged itself in my consciousness. it’s a conversation between roth and a woman on her retreat who has been going there for seven years, and who comes to the realization that she is no longer, as she puts it, “broken.”
“What’s happening in your body, Nell?” I ask.
“It feels like a fountain of color,” she says. “It’s as if I am streaming with vivid hues of red, green, gold, black, streaking in my chest, my arms, my legs…”
“OK, let’s stop here for a minute…”
I look around the room….The group attention is riveted by what Nell is saying about the need to be broken. They can relate to the belief that i they keep themselves wounded and damaged, they will be loved.
I look at Nell and say, “When you stop and let yourself feel what is being offered to you, it is never, ever what you thought it would be. You go from being afraid to being a fountain in three minutes…”
Nell says, “It feels as if this quiet, calm space has been waiting for me to come back to it, like it’s been here all my life, like it’s more me than anything else….Listen to this, girls: I AM NOT BROKEN!”
five years ago today, I was discharged from my final treatment center. now, in the past five years, I’ve spent maybe a grand total of nine months not being in some sort of therapy or nutritional counseling, usually both. and it’s only in the past year that I have truly begun to understand and tentatively scratch the surface of recovery.
and one of the hardest things for me, is not to conceive a life without an eating disorder. it is, to conjure up my self-concept without it. if I am not the girl with the eating disorder, the food issues, the exercise obsession…who am I?
letting go of that piece of my self-concept has been excruciatingly difficult at times, because I have clung to it for so long, as an inherent piece of my identity. and for a long time, that really was my identity. it took over my life and blocked everything else out, prevented me from living out the other areas of my life.
now, I can honestly say that I am not Jenn the Bulimic. I am not that girl with the eating disorder, who gets up at ungodly hours to go to the gym no matter how little sleep she got last night or how injured or overtired or sick she is.
I am a daughter.
I am a girlfriend.
I am a singer, a teacher, a student.
I am a woman with so much to offer.
that is me. no eating disorder, no excuses.