Many things have happened lately to make me fearful of others and of life itself. My world seems to be filled with people who hold unfounded grudges that baffle me and choose to say vindictive things for no other reason than spite. We’ve had deaths and serious illnesses, difficult medical prognoses. Family members whose actions are more about greed than family values. Job losses and insecurity. It’s been difficult to hold on to the trust and acceptance that got me through past challenges. I see fear peeking out of every corner, tugging at me, knocking on the door, enticing me to believe that the world is full of anger, resentment, greed and struggles. Fear is ready to haunt me, settle into my stomach and my bones. In fact, I can already feel it in my body, aching and throbbing.
Shame is an inevitable component of binge eating disorder, so although it’s the most common of eating disorders, it’s rarely discussed.
Binging was a carefully hidden secret for me since my early teen years. I remember getting upset over a running injury and devouring a chocolate cake. Not a piece of cake — a whole chocolate cake — and it was still mostly frozen. Binging was my normal; I didn’t believe change was possible. So even as I got degrees in nutrition and ate more nourishing foods, there were still nights where I’d polish off a can of frosting, and suffer through the inevitable self-loathing hangover.
On a beautiful day in June, I arrive home after a stressful day. Thankfully, I still have several hours of daylight left, even though the sun has begun its slow summer downward arc. I change into comfortable clothes and head out to the garden.
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Most self-help books emphasize will and action. From The Power of Positive Thinking to Skinny Bitch, they sound the same affirmative, even aggressive, bass note. Judith Orloff, a UCLA psychiatrist, appreciates the effort necessary for achievement and its satisfaction. In The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life, she balances this emphasis on doing with a deep understanding of being and the great, transformative blessings of acceptance. Power, she tells us, gains grace when we wear it lightly and peacefully welcome its limitations. It serves us best when we share it with others.