The original version of what I’m about to share with you was written quickly with shaky, anxious penmanship four years ago.
As I open the envelope, I can smell hints of fear, anger, sadness, and hope – the same emotions I felt while writing the most intimate, honest, and important correspondence of my life.
I remember how badly my fingers cramped as I held my pen with all of my might, watching the words bleed between the blurred lines. (My eyelashes… windshield wipers for my tears.)
I can hear the other women around me sniffling as they write their letters and rip tissues from boxes.
There we were, writing and fighting for our lives.
I can picture myself back at Green Mountain, composing this… my Letter To Food.
I didn’t change a single word. There it is – in its original, raw form.
(Wooooah. That’s hard to read. I was in so much pain when I wrote that.)
Writing this letter was one of dozens of inspiring exercises that I did during my month-long stay at Green Mountain. But this one… this one knocked the wind out of me as I wrote it.
And I’m breathless again as I read it after so long.
In this single letter, I was able to confront my best friend, worst enemy, and greatest love at the same time. I address this particular letter “Dear HER” – and this is the only time that I can recall referring to Food as female.
Does it mean anything? I’m not sure. But I’m having an epiphany right now and I think I might have peeled back yet another layer – even after all these years.
Growing up, I was bullied by girls. I have felt bullied by food. I have bullied myself.
I gave away my power, my confidence, my self-respect., to HER(s).
Well, when I picked up my pen that day, I took back some of MY power that I had given to Food, to binge eating disorder, to other people, to painful memories.
And damn did it feel good!
Until next time,
Comment from Green Mountain at Fox Run’s Clinical Director and Binge Eating Specialist, Dr. Kari Anderson
Letter writing can be an incredibly powerful tool for healing. Not only in writing the letter, but in reading it out loud with someone or a group you trust.
It’s important to point out that the food itself isn’t the problem; it’s just trying to nourish us and sustain a vital life. It’s the twisted relationship we have with food, and how we behave with it in a disordered manner.
Separating a behavior, in this case “HER”, from oneself and giving it a distinct identity, enables us to address the relationship, one in which we have choice.
In Jacki’s letter to food, she addressed her relationship with the food, the love-hate struggle.
Once she was able to express her feelings toward this relationship, she was able to begin to let go of its power. Like telling off the “mean girl” from whom you wanted desperately to gain approval, but was instead continually subject to put-downs and public humiliation.
The concept of writing letters to our relationship with food was brought to the mainstream eating disorder recovery world through author, Jenny Schafer, in her book Life Without ED.
Note that these types of letters are best done in a supportive environment, such as with a therapist or group for which to process the powerful emotions that may arise.