Hungry to Speak

You ask me why I eat in secret.

I wish you couldn’t see me eat. I wonder how much you think about what I eat. I decide what I will eat next to make it look like I am not eating too much. I wait until it is noisy enough in the room so that you may not notice how much I am eating when I grab more food.

I sit there acting like nothing is wrong because I don’t want you to notice I am screaming inside. I don’t want you to know how embarrassing this is for me.

You ask why I can’t have more self-control. I tell you, it is because I used to have all the control in the world.

You ask me why I take food out of the trash. I tell you, it is because I used to spit my food into it.

You ask me why you find food wrappers, empty cans of vegetables in strange places around the house. I tell you, it is because I pushed food away for so long–and now there is a shaking, anxious girl inside of me that is terrified she will never have enough.

You ask me how I could have an eating disorder when I’m not skin and bones. I have no response for you because my voice is trapped in the bottom of my stomach—the stomach that screams to be filled, to be emptied, to be punished. I have no words because how can I explain that what goes on inside speaks louder than what I reveal on the outside? I want to stop, but my body rebels.

What can I call this obsession, this war with food?

I wish I could have the guts to show you the monster within when I eat by myself. I wish I could make you feel the deep hunger when I restrict, make you understand how the gluttony consumes me. I wish I had the guts to show you the stashes of food I hide in my room, in my purse, in my desk drawers.

I don’t know how to explain why I isolate myself, why I hide in the bathroom, why I sneak off into a secluded room to eat. Embarrassment holds me back. I try to keep this hidden even though I don’t want to suffer in it alone.

This is why I do not want to eat to begin with. This is why I fear hunger.

You ask me why I eat in secret. I tell you, it is because I am ashamed to eat at all.

12 replies
  1. Dale Bales
    Dale Bales says:

    Powerful post. Thanks for your openness. You encourage all to face their hidden demons and confront them.

  2. Becca
    Becca says:

    You shed beautiful light upon an ugly demon. Well done- I like the format of this post. We’re cheering for you!

  3. Florence
    Florence says:

    Such a beautiful raw (no pun intended) post. I admire your honesty and I appreciate the way you formatted this. Writing is a wonderful way to express the terrible war with food, the fears and the dreads and the insatiable hunger. I wish I had answers for you, but the only advice I think would be relevant is to try some meditation. When we let our minds quiet down we’re better able to listen to our bodies. While the monster that is the eating disorder is reigning its ugly head, there is another quieter side of you that knows how to feed yourself and love yourself and not be ashamed to eat. Keep searching, you will find her. You are not alone and you are doing a wonderful job, carving your own path on the jagged road to recovery. Also, have you checked out Geneen Roth? Feeding the Hungry Heart and Breaking Free From Emotional Eating changed my life. Sending lots of positive energy (and a hug) your way. xoxo

  4. Mandy
    Mandy says:

    Beautifully written post.

    I relate to a lot of it. Binge eating was something I never really talked about when I was in the midst of it because of the shame and self-loathing I felt. In a sense being anorexic was easier because the inward struggle was more visible. It is a tough transition to “normal” eating and it can be really frustrating when you have gained weight and so people assume you are better. Or, in my case, when genetically waif-thin family members say, ‘I don’t get it; why don’t you just east in moderation?’

    It is hard to make people understand, but you definitely capture the struggle well in your post.

  5. Tamara Steil
    Tamara Steil says:

    You left me speechless – with admiration for your writing, and with sorrow that I cannot take away the pain and desperation for you. That I cannot shield you. That I cannot make it all go magically away. I cling to the foggy hope that you will soon face your demon and rip it to shreds. Though every day a shred will grab at you again and you will fight it again. You can and will save yourself but the journey is long and fraught with difficulty. It is never easy but I know it can be done and I know it is within you to do it. You have so much support – people who care, like Becca – cheering for you!

  6. Regan Levitte
    Regan Levitte says:

    I’ve been clicking around for several posts, looking at your popular tags, and I found this post. This is gorgeous prose and is open and wise and shows so much fear and also earnest bravery, I think. Your fearless charge into taking on, and educating people about, your eating disorder is beautiful and I admire it.

    Throughout this semester, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you so much better through this blog, much better than I ever have had in the, what, two? literature classes we’ve had together.

  7. Gillian Hurley
    Gillian Hurley says:

    Wow, Rachael, this is so beautifully written. To be able to capture those feelings and capture the hearts of your audience in such an incredible way on such an important subject is just admirable. I love how you go in and out of this type of prose in your blog. Sometimes, it’s conversational, and other times it’s like this- poetic and lyrical, while remaining serious and powerful. It’s brilliantly written.

  8. Jackie Popek
    Jackie Popek says:

    Having battled with depression for many years now, I love this post. While I’ve never struggled with food specifically I know what it’s like to struggle and hide what is really going on. So pumped you kept on this blog and are becoming a published author!

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