Commitment to Reality: I'm not immune to the challenge


dbf_d_reduced Here I am at the Decatur Book Festival .  I didn't know that  speaking and book signing would have such an impact on my equilibrium and sense of purpose.

A woman recently wrote that the concept of committing to reality, which I write about in Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, came as a revelation to her. 

She is now rethinking her commitment to eating disorder practices, eating disorder recovery and daily life choices. This is wonderful and essential for healing and building a more healthy and meaningful life.
But what is reality?  Philosophers, teachers of religions and spiritual practices, great novelists and poets and certainly physicists, ask and explore this question.  My reality is changing. My hunch is that actual reality is beyond the capacity of the human mind to grasp.  That may be what makes life a continual disaster or adventure, depending on our ability to stay present for what is.

At the Festival I met men and women asking questions:

  • How can I help my anorexic girlfriend eat more and be healthy?
  • What do I think of Jane Fonda's story and about her first exercise programs?
  • Why do you (meaning me) appear younger than we thought you were?
  • Why is the word "fat" such a loaded word in our culture, especially to women - increasingly, little girls too?
  • What was your experience when you told your daughter you were bulimic?

My reality got bigger.  My mind is there for these questions.  My emotions need to catch up.  Yes, I'm recovering from jetlag.  Two thousand miles of U.S. lay between Los Angeles and Georgia.  Yes, I'm recovering from a Los Angeles heat wave with a now, and finaly, fully repaired A/C system.

But more is going on besides physical fatigue.  I need to step up to a more public platform and reveal more of my experience, thoughts and memories.  As a psychotherapist and writer I've been living a quiet, introspective life seeking out and embracing truth of actual experience.  Much of that seeking and finding is in Healing Your Hungry Heart.

Now I see I need to carry Healing Your Hungry Heart in my hand and participate in the questions and answers my book stirs in the every day experience of people right now.

In my audience, one woman did not ask a question.  She sat alone in the empty back row of the Decatur Hotel auditorium, off to the side. She scrunched low in her chair, close to the wall.  I saw her face contorted in quiet anguish.

As I read and spoke it seemed my words penetrated a wall around her.  Her exposed inner experience brought her intense sorrow and pain. She did not speak. She did not relate to me with eye contact. She did not leave. She stayed present for the entire talk including questions and answers.  She cried the whole time.

She is my most vivid memory of a rich and full experience at the Book Festival.  I know I need to come out more myself to meet her and women like her who are lost in their eating disorders and want to be found.

I have to speak more. I have to leave my lovely healing garden, sacred office space where I see clients and the creative and supportive space of my home much more often.  I have a message to carry in person as people find and read Healing Your Hungry Heart.  I need to adjust and create a new system of balance and energy conservation to meet this more expanded sense of purpose.

I am rethinking my commitment to reality and what it takes to be fully present for my more expanded here and now.

You meet this challenge continually throughout eating disorder recovery as you develop, heal and are able to see and experience more of life.  The challenge continues after recovery, and I'm not immune.

What challenges are you facing as your here and now expands?  What do you need to rethink as you continue your commitment to reality, the sure way to eating disorder recovery?













0 # Joanna, that made me cry! I think eveshh 2011-09-09 16:59
Joanna, that made me cry!

I think everyone who suffers with ED has a journey to make, that takes them from a place of blocking out our feelings/thoughts/emotions to being able to admit them to ourselves, then our therapist, then one or two close friends, and I know for me, ultimately, it would be nice to be able to be so comfortable with myself, that I can be completely open, and always express my true thoughts and feelings to those who require that of me.

I think an honest, open, person is a powerful person...and as you reach inside to try to find that openess and sincerity that people need from you, you are beginning to realise just how powerful that is.

I remember asking you about "the beauty in vulnerability" as I didn't get it at the time, but I see it now, and I believe that if you allow yourself to be that open person, and reveal that vulnerability - the beauty in that will absolutely blow people away!

You're a very special lady Joanna!
0 # Thank you, Shh. Takes one to know onpinkjoanna 2011-09-09 22:45
Thank you, Shh.

Takes one to know one. :-)
0 # Joanna, I'd love to see you more out inKymL 2011-09-10 09:52
Joanna, I'd love to see you more out in the public reaching more people! Portland OR is a wonderful to visit :-)

I've been thinking about the concept of Reality and maybe it IS beyond the capacity of the human to grasp but thinking about it brings many questions to my mind. I know I have benefited from seeing the reality of the danger my ED had put me in and I'm grateful for that. But currently I feel like I'm trying to change my reality. I'm working hard to stay out of my "misery mind" by staying positive; I'm telling myself over and over that it's OK and it's possible to be happy. It's almost like I can feel my brain re-wiring and it's getting easier and easier to believe the message I'm telling myself. But on the other hand, I'm not progressing as fast with being OK with my new weight. I keep telling myself that I'm OK it because I feel healthier, but when I think about "reality" the voice in my head says "who do you think you are kidding, you hate this weight gain!!" So should I stay out of reality and keep "faking it?" Maybe reality isn't always a good place to be; or maybe I'm only letting the negative reality side of my weight gain speak. Maybe I'm trying to grasp at something that's not graspable (new word!). Maybe my reality is that I will never like my heavier weight but the "Reality" is that I don't have any other option if I want to be healthy. Will my reality towards my weight always be this "negative" or do you think true acceptance comes with more recovery? I want to believe that someday I will love and embrace my healthy body and truely be happy with it just as it is. Reality?
0 # Dear Kym, Just about every sentence ypinkjoanna 2011-09-16 18:31
Dear Kym,

Just about every sentence you wrote could be the lead sentence for an essay!
In fact, you could do just that: use each sentence as a prompt for a journal entry, and see what comes up.

The seeming paradox in the reality discussion is that the only way to make a change in your reality is to totally accept where you are in the here and now and make your decisions and take action based on where you are - like it or not.

Look at the wonderful conundrum in your question, "So should I stay out of reality and keep "faking it?" We can't stay out of reality. We can only be oblivious to it. If we know we are "faking" then we know we are avoiding reality or attempting to avoid it through pretense. If we do that we are pretending to be someone else or look like someone else or behave like someone else.

Who's the someone else? Who's getting neglected or hidden? Plus, and this is frustrating or frightening or both to many people, just because we pretend or fake doesn't mean that others do not recognize the performance. They may not see what's behind the performance. They may even enjoy the performance. But they also may very well know that they are not seeing the genuine person.

I would love to see you write more about all the many insightful writing prompts you give in this comment, Kym.

warm regards,


P. S. Yes, I am starting to move out into the public more now. I'm doing it sporadically as opportunities present themselves while I figure out an organized way to be more public. And you better believe I think about Portland. I do have an MFT license in Oregon. It's always been in the back of my mind to do something there. Oregon and Ireland keep nudging me. :-)

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