I first stumbled upon The Eater’s Agreement a few years ago and it’s left an indelible mark on my soul. I like to share it with others from time to time, and to use it as a springboard for discussion about what it means to be an eater on this planet. I wanted to share with one of the responses to the agreement, that I think is simply beautiful. The author is a courageous young woman I’m privileged to know who will give you a glimpse into her own eating disorder and into a powerful transition.
This eater feels shaken. Feels jolted. I can intellectualize my body’s need for food — its inability to go on without nourishment. But I don’t like to admit it. I didn’t want to be reminded of my humanness — my weakness and fragility. So I manipulated it.
I used food to prove that my life was in my hands. I could choose to sustain it or to starve it away. And so I chose to waste. Waste my resources, my body, my relationship. Deprive them all as I watched them dwindle away. I learned that starvation takes away all ability — steals my capacity to move, think, sleep, love.
I can’t starve my body without starving my soul. I starve and I quickly whittle away my logic, my passion, my desire. I believe that I am mighty. That I don’t need the things that all others need — I am the exception in a scenario of no exceptions. I believe that I am not an eater, a feeler, a bearer of life, until I don’t want to be the exception anymore. I want to need food to live, but I don’t want to live.
And then I am re-introduced to life, and curiosity, and pain. To humanity, to weakness, and to strength. To the overwhelming world of eaters. My brain still battles my body. Once a month I am reminded that I somehow came to sustain my life again, and I feel simultaneous joy and suffering. Relief and fear. My heart beats, my hair grows, my body offers to house another. I am alive because I am an eater — or I am an eater because I am alive.
Perhaps the choice is not about eating or not eating, but about living or not living. Embracing life or rejecting it. itching in a basement, all sources of light blocked out by opaque bags installed, but failing to keep the bugs off of my skin, or stepping out into a lawn of weeds and blooms to feel the sun warm my skin.
I eat for that warmth. I eat to experience the sunrise reflected on the Rocky Mountains outside my window. I eat to stand at the tops of those mountains, and to rest peacefully in my bed afterwards. I eat to embrace my mother and connect with my father. I eat to laugh with my brother. I eat to accept I am imperfect, and to acknowledge the beauty of that. I eat to enjoy a moment. I eat to solve a puzzle, read a book, write a poem. I eat to be curious, eat to learn, eat to inquire and desire. I eat to believe, I eat to breathe. I eat to live.
I eat because I am an eater.
I eat because I have a soul, and I have come to learn that I can’t be a soul without a body.
I eat because I want to learn to celebrate my existence. I eat because it doesn’t matter who I was yesterday, and I want to discover who I will be tomorrow. I eat because some days, some moments I hunger for life. I eat to give the hunger space to grown until it’s satisfied. Reappear and be satiated once again.
And again. And again.
I eat to ay that I am okay with this hunger.
I eat to say I am okay.