Thursday, April 21, 2011

Writing about not eating on a food blog

I'm about to break one of the cardinal rules of blogging and talk about why I haven't been posting much lately. Stick with me, there's a point to this.

I have several unpublished posts ready to go. Meals in Tuscany, bread given as a gift, Passover foods, food related poems and link lists; all kinds of things. Each time I settle in to polish one to post, I get stuck, not because I don't care about the topic but because I have a friend who has an eating disorder. She reads what I write because she loves me and wants to support me. I'm concerned that something I write about food will be upsetting to her.

Friend, if you're reading, please remember that I love you and this post is about my feelings, not about anything you've done. My concern about upsetting you may not be realistic.

Loving someone with an eating disorder is like loving anyone else. You ache for them when they are in pain. You long to help them. You celebrate their successes. Loving this friend has taught me just how important it is to keep loving even when it's hard and how important it is to love the person, not what they do.

She is an amazing friend. I wish she could see herself the way I see her.

It's sometimes hard, since I love food and cooking, while for her these seem like enemies. What sustains me emotionally as well as physically seems repellent to her. This has forced me to find other common ground, other places where we can meet and share our lives. It means I have to make choices about what I talk about and offer her as comfort. I can't make her soup when she's distressed.

Eating disorders are so complex, I can't begin to fathom what it feels like to live with these demons. All I can do is love her. So I do.

She has given me so many gifts, both intentionally and unintended, including these: A deep reminder that life is precious. A reminder that if we can be half as kind to ourselves as we are to others, it's worth it. And a heightened gratitude for every bite I can take and savor.

Next time you sit down for a meal with your loved ones, look around. In that moment, give thanks for your health and theirs. Give thanks as you close your eyes and feel the soup swirl on your tongue, the cake crumble on your palate, the apple crunch beneath your teeth. Give thanks for sustenance, physical and spiritual. Then love those around you as much as you can.

Friend, I am so grateful for your presence in my life. You are loved.

(c) 2011 Laura S. Packer

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food poem: Cutting Greens, by Lucille Clifton

cutting greens

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black,
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and I taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.
Lucille Clifton, "cutting greens" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (BOA Editions, Ltd., 1980)