I’m not gonna lie to y’all, I got to feeling mighty sorry for myself after I wrote about my currently tormented relationship with food last month. Food has always been something very important to me, a pretty key part of my life, and it kind of felt like a part of myself was breaking off and drifting somewhere when I realised that food just wasn’t doing it for me, so to speak. It sort of created an identity crisis, honestly, because I’ve structured so many things around food, especially really vibrant memories like the ones I’ve written about in posts like ‘My Own Private Alchemy.’
Several interesting things happened. One made me realise what an awesome community I am in. Not one person contacted me with ‘helpful suggestions.’ Everyone said ‘I’m sorry, it really sucks that you are going through this, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.’ It really underscored for me that I hang out with awesome people.
There’s kind of a default to assume that when someone talks about something ou is struggling with, that you are obligated to fix it somehow. I see this happening with everything from suicidal thoughts to homework. But, sometimes people just want to know that they are not alone. They want to say it out loud, to see another person reacting. Maybe they want to talk, maybe they don’t, but they really want to express this thing inside. Sometimes there is nothing that you can do other than bearing witness.
It’s a difficult thing to realise, that sometimes all you can do is say ‘I’m sorry, let me know if there is something that would be helpful,’ and to stop there. To not go ‘but have you tried…’ ‘are you thinking about…’ ‘should I call someone…’ It’s hard. It is, I know that. And I love all of the people around me who didn’t do that, who didn’t concern troll me or fret. I love all of the people who could set aside the fact that this is a scary thing, the watching someone and feeling helpless, but that putting your fear and worry on that person isn’t helpful.
And I also love all the people who responded with awesome recipe ideas when I said ‘help, I need to come up with something to eat and I am coming up totally blank, whatcha got?’ It was nice to know that this help was there when I needed it, if I wanted it and chose to ask for it, but that no one was going to push it on me. It makes me really appreciate this community, you people, right here, more than I can even say, and it makes me think about how far I have come and how this community has fostered that; I knew that it was safe to talk about the struggles I am having with food because people would respect my boundaries and be there if I needed it, and I wasn’t afraid to ask for help when I did need it, which is kind of a huge thing for me. So, at the same time that parts of myself were drifting away from me, I was finding other new and interesting parts.
And then something else happened.
I went to the store. And I realised that summer fruit is in season.
I haven’t turned the corner by any means, but for the first time in a long time, I am excited about food. My fridge is filled with fruit. I’m eating fruit all the time, and I am looking forward to it. Like, there’s this watermelon that is just about perfect, that I am going to eat some of later, and I am enthusiastic about the prospect. I’m thinking about sitting on the porch with watermelon slices on a plate and that sweet watermelon smell and the dripping juices and spitting seeds into the garden and it makes me happy. I am imagining the knife bearing down to crack it in two so I can see that cool, crunchy flesh, and the ‘snick’ it will make as I cut off a few chunks, and I am smiling, thinking about the sounds and the smells and the textures.
I’ve been eating peaches and cherries and raspberries. ‘Fruit is nature’s candy,’ as Anna says, and it really, really is. I eat fruit in the morning, I eat fruit in the evening, and I am reminded of how much I love fruit. I love all the flavours. I love how sweet and tart can play off each other. I love my sticky fingers. I love filling a bowl with cut fruit and berries and working my way through it and then doing it again because that fruit is just that good.
I can’t live on fruit alone, but the fact that I am excited about fruit is giving me some hope that I will be excited about other things. That I might be able to cook again. That I will come home from the store with arms overloaded with things and be unable to decide what I want to eat first so I eat three things instead. That I will go out to dinner with friends and fall on my plate and love savouring every bite, every delicious tangy crispy thing in front of me, that I will cast about for the bread basket because I will still be hungry. Order something else because I just feel like trying it.
I am not there yet, but I imagine late night sandwiches with a glass of iced tea in the summer heat, I imagine picnics and baking projects, I imagine going to dinner at friends’ and smelling Smells and thinking that they are Good Smells and that I am happy to be right where I am. And I’m glad that I was patient enough to allow that to happen on its own.