March 12, 2021

Dear Woman Who Doesn’t Eat. Dear Woman Who Eats It All.

“There is an invisible strength within us; when it recognizes two opposing objects of desire, it grows stronger.” ~ Rumi


Dear Woman Who Doesn’t Eat,

I see you and I know you. Because I am you.

I watch you put your hand up and shake your head. You dig deep to pretend you don’t want them—the morsels, the bites, the crackers stacked with cheese, the puffy, steaming things. Because, somehow, you’re already full. You had a “big” breakfast, apparently. 

“No thank you,” is just part of the polite conversation. “None for me please,” is your modus operandi at every party, every family event, every gathering. Nothing goes into your mouth, but your protests, your “no’s,” well, they fly right out, rapid-fire, light as air. Just like you. 

Your eyes say something different though. They say, “I wish. I want. I crave.”  They say, “more.” 

You make yourself heavy with lightness.

No, no, no.

In other realms, “no” is such a good word. An awesome word. An important word. A radical self-care word. A word that is preached and implored. In this one, this realm, it is more than mostly about punishment. It’s about control. And denial. And shame.  

Your “no” exudes such willpower. It seeps with resolve. You show such restraint!

And, yet…

This “no” prevents you from doing the very thing it was designed to do: treat yourself with loving care.  

I am not judging. I understand that taking care of a body requires a regimen, however, if taking care of a body makes us feel anxious or unhappy, unfulfilled, or not perfect enougheverthen it is a detriment to a happy life, plain and true.

“She’s disciplined,” they say. “She’s careful,” they whisper. “She doesn’t indulge,” they think. 

And you revel in it—in what feels like a compliment, an award. An award for being empty.

Abstinence is just how you love yourself. You do not fill yourself up. 

But I know you are hungry. I see it on your quivering lips, your bony, concave hips, your furrowed brow. You don’t remember a time when you weren’t hungry. 

You are the master of your body. You seek validation and, yes, you’re keeping score.

Dear woman who doesn’t eat, I know it’s not food that you are hungry for.


Dear Woman Who Eats It All,

I see you. I know you. Because I am you.

I watch you really shovel it in. Everything on your plate, the platter, every last drop inside the deepest dish. Nothing is safe from your tongue, your throat, your belly. It sticks to the roof of your mouth.

You stare at the steaming tray. You want it all—the bits, the pieces, the macaroni bakes, and the frosted cakes. You are not shy. Because, somehow, even though you’ve already consumed a few meals today, you don’t feel full, not even a little bit.  

“Yes, please,” is part of the conversation. “More, more, more” is your gluttonous petition at every party, every family event, every gathering you attend. If it isn’t nailed to the table, in it goes. And along with the lumps of food, you stuff down your feelings. You pack them in tight.

Emotions contained, your heaviness grows heavier still. 

After every bite, your eyes tell a story. They tell everyone you can’t get enough, but enough of what? 

Love? Attention? Feeling valued? You want to say no, but you feel powerless. Of course you want to say no. But that little word is just out of reach. Yes is so much easier. You fill yourself with yes until it hurts.  

In other realms, “yes” is such a good word. A wonderful word. A word that pushes you to take some leaps and chances. An exciting word that offers inclusion, and participation. An action word! A “sign me up” word. In this one, this realm, it is about self-sabotage. It’s how you abuse yourself. 

Your yes shows the world that you just don’t care what others think about your body. Your bulk, your “bigness” is just who you are. You’re sassy! Such a personality!

And, yet…

The continuous flow of yes holds you hostage instead of doing the very thing “yes” is supposed to do: treat yourself with loving care. Your yes hides you beneath buffering layers. It masks your face. It swallows you whole. 

“She’s out of control,” they say. “She doesn’t care,” they whisper. “She has no self-respect,” they think. 

And you wallow in it—in the outward, hard criticism. It’s like a slap. It feels like jail for a bad woman, a woman serving time for seconds. For being too full. 

Dear woman who doesn’t eat, and woman who eats it all. What will it take to tear down both sides of the same damn wall?

*I’m ready to meet you in the middle.

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