Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Getting Better

Anne Lamott is an enormously talented woman who writes on a variety of topics. She is a recovering alcoholic and compulsive eater and bulimic. One of her essays on how she first learned to eat and to pay attention to her body has always touched me. The entire piece is here, and these are some of my favorite paragraphs.

"This is the story of how, at the age of 33, I learned to feed myself.

"To begin with, here's what I did until then: I ate, starved, binged, purged, grew fat, grew thin, grew fat, grew thin, binged, purged, dieted, was good, was bad, grew fat, grew thin, grew thinner.

"I had been a lean, coltish girl, energetic, always hungry, always eating, always thin. But I weighed 100 pounds at 13, 130 at l4. For the next 10 years, I dieted. It is a long, dull story. I had lots of secrets about me and my food and my body. It was very scary and obsessive, the way it must feel for someone secretly and entirely illiterate. . .

"I never wet another bag of cookies. One day I woke up and discovered that I also felt like having some oranges, then rice, then sautéed bell peppers. Maybe also some days the random pound of M&M's. But from then on I was always able to at least keep whatever I ate down -- or, rather, in my case, up.

"I went from feeling like a Diane Arbus character, seen through that lens of her self-contempt, to someone filmed by a friendly cousin, someone who gently noted the concentration on my face as I washed a colander of tiny new potatoes; each potato holy, each action tender.

"Over these years, my body has not gotten firmer. Just the opposite in fact. But when I feel fattest and flabbiest and most repulsive, I try to remember that gravity speaks; also, that no one needs that plastic body perfection from women of age and substance. Also, that I do not live in my thighs or in my droopy butt. I live in joy and motion and cover-ups. I live in the nourishment of food and the sun and the warmth of the people who love me.

"I tell you, it feels like a small miracle, to have learned to eat, to taste and love what slips down my throat, padding me, filling me up, and it is the most radical thing I've ever done. "

I look every day for guides and scouts on this journey to health and recovery from eating disorders. Anne's beautiful words sustain me at times when I think it can't be done.

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Blogger Cookie said...

I absolutely love Anne Lamott's writing. Her words are always so honest and vulnerable but at the same time her amazing strength shines through. Thank you so much for posting this for all of us to read!

August 15, 2006 12:09 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Belle, I love, love, tlove this passage from Lamott. Thanks for posting it; I'm going to read the whole essay now. I also like Geneen Roth; have you read her stuff?

August 15, 2006 3:44 PM  

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