Eater's Agreement

by MB


Read and ratified on 8, February, 2019, at EDCC Monte Nido.

***

I, Molly Binenfeld, enter into this eaters agreement in a free and willing manner, as a woman who values, above all else, her own recovery.  The contents of this agreement are intended to reinforce the values I strive to embody - both as a person in society and in my recovery - and shall serve as my north star and guiding light as I continue this journey. As I am under no illusions that recovery is not linear and progress does not always look or feel comfortable, I am committed to using the words and declarations in this agreement, from this point onwards, should I ever stumble or falter in my pursuit of a life in which I am fully recovered. 

I agree to exist in this world a person who is worthy of sustenance, food, love, and compassion. I agree to acknowledge and admit my own needs, and to take positive, consistent actions towards meeting those needs. I no longer agree to sacrifice my own needs for the needs of others, and refuse to shrink my being, my personality, or my soul self to make someone else happy.

I agree to a life of abundance, pleasure, joy, and love, and acknowledge that such a life comes with certain non negotiables I agree to feed myself food, love, praise, and grace, even and especially when I feel undeserving of those things. I agree that these things are not optional for myself, and do not come second to the needs of others. 

I agree to use my voice, and not my eating disorder, to resolve conflict, to express my emotions, and to advocate for myself. I agree to surrender my behaviors in favor of my words, and to honor myself by asking for what I need (even if it feels shameful).

I agree to take up space in a world that wishes to quiet me, to raise my voice in a room of silence, and to honor my instincts even if that means eating a burger in a sea full of salads and kale juice. I agree to make my voice heard, to follow my passion to write, and to fulfill my childhood yearning for helping others feel less alone.

I agree to a life of deserving and worth.

I agree to live my life and build a marriage and a family that are congruent with my values, even (and especially when) those values are not shared by the majority. I agree to work together with my partner to solve problems instead of escalating them, to chose being happy over always being right. I agree to a union founded on love, compassion, understanding, and most importantly, truth.

I agree to tacos and enchiladas and pizza and pasta in pink sauce and cream sauce, to doughnuts and Susiecakes and all things filled with cheese. I agree to french fries dipped in thousand island dressing, to Xiao Long Bao in Hong Kong and Green Curry in Thailand, and to salads with avocado and chickpeas and even kale. I agree to a life where no food is off limits, where the most delicious sounding item is the one that will sustain me, and where "healthy" and "fattening" play no part in my food choices. 

I agree to a life of feeling over numbing, of sadness over behavior, of sitting with it instead of running a way from it. I promise to travel the world as a curious, respectful, insightful, and humble person, and to enjoy moments and experiences for what they are. 

I agree to be present.

I agree to work towards finding peace with my body, because it is the only body I will ever have. I agree to exercise for joy and not for punishment, to eat for satisfaction and nourishment and nothing more.

I agree to a life of inspiration and wonder, and understand and accept that with those things come sadness and hardship and heartbreak. I agree to embrace those hard moments and to let them nourish me and teach me gratitude and compassion. 

I agree to a live where a size 0 does not equate with happiness. Where memories are not punctuated by the foods I did not eat or the places I did not see, or the parties I did not go because of the workouts and rules and bullshit I fed myself for so long. 

I agree to honesty and transparency. I agree to be as forthcoming with my struggles as I am with my victories.

I agree to a life built upon a foundation of trust. Knowing my eating disorder voice often encourages secrecy, I agree to acknowledging that voice and then politely telling it to fuck off, because I know that's whats best for me. I agree to confrontation and difficult conversations, and the joys and sorrows of a life where those things are not optional.

I agree not to be ruined by a bad day. To journal and be mindful. To write because it brings me joy, to read for pleasure, and to allow myself to relax and take care of myself. I agree that as a human, I deserve self care, and understand that to thrive in recovery I cannot listen to the voice that advises busyness over self care.

I agree, finally, to a life of recovery because I deserve it, and because I cannot live a full and meaningful and memorable life if I do not first nourish my body, my soul, and my needs. 


180

by MB


The end of the beginning - or the inverse; just the end. Promises and bodies unfulfilled but so very whole. Present, even. Reality gives way to snapshots of what was - the moments that were and could have been but will never be. 

A relationship nurtured by the rhythms of what were once the future. Metal tubes and wiring: 30 to 40 thousand feet above reality, too quick to pay deference to those things that ground us - nature, water, the earth and elements - quick to jump across borders and boundaries, as though the things beneath us are nothing more than an inconvenience to be ferried over.  

Empty promises of the riches that await on the other side. Of stability and love and companionship unburdened by the realities left behind, forgotten between oceans and islands and the unknowing darkness beneath. 

The moments suspended between time and gravity, unencumbered by the problems anchored beneath. For moments we are weightless, nowhere, everywhere, just far from here. 

High on benzodiazepines and dreams and that champagne you could never afford but which runs through your veins, pumped from head to ventricle to lungs.  

Untethered by the fury of wheels screeching against asphalt below. Dissatisfied by stasis and what awaits beneath the confines of this inbetween land. Where money and sickness and wellness and realty dwell only behind the screen, nothing more than plot points and cinematic effect. 

Enough for you to forget the reality of it all. The unsteady baggage carts with limp wheels and squeaky handles, the line of the taxis behind the man that smells and his wife, underdressed for the bitter cold, lamenting her blood is not thick enough for this weather. 

It is December and you breathe in the cold air. It sustains you as it pierces your lungs, turns your ears red and renders nostrils dry and leaky.  

So far from home though you never fully left left. Lulled by the lights and the acrid odor of garbage left out in the cold,  the smell of warm, spiced nuts and the possibility and memories of what was, what could have been - what will be.  


On trying to be heard

by MB


She asked me why I rebelled. Why I lost my temper, my rational side.

Is it to prove a point? She asked knowingly, eyes to soul back to eyes again, the blues of her irises interlocked with the muddiness of my own.

Or is it to be heard ? She pontificates further, perhaps an afterthought (though not to her, I realize now, with the benefit of hindsight, of perspective.)

We lose ourselves in the patterns that comfort us. The frustration giving way to disease, disappointment, disapproval. The cycle of my childhood - my adolescence, repeating itself as though by fate, lacking agency.

The easiest admission (though admittedly, not the truest) is that I wish only to defy. To rebel. To demand I am heard only because I have not been: defined by the absence of hearing - the comfort that my solitude is mine alone to bear.

With the benefit again of hindsight, with therapy and journaling and the moments left unsaid lingering between us at night - tangled between bedsheets and hidden beneath Trojan wrappers tucked in the corners of our apartment - I realize that is unfair. I know he hears me, that he values my voice.

What I crave is the validation. Of 20 years of acknowledgment left unspoken and unsaid. Of bodies left undiscovered and tucked beneath oversize shirts and grey sports bras. The comfort of ‘ok’ - that she is ok - that there is nothing wrong with her. That her emotions are not too much, the overwhelming there-ness of her body not too cumbersome to deserve consolation, validation. Her feelings - of sex of love, emotion and fear and that tingling feeling of prepubescent longing - are not a burden.

I shout and scream and disagree - seeking not the rebellion of youth but the companionship of camaraderie. Screaming into the nothingness - she is not alone.

I am not alone. We are a team. Sex and bodies are normal and weird and gross and perfect and not wrong. Alone and apart and apart and together.

I challenge him to test his allegiance. A shameless pattern of self destruction, Seeking confirmation of my worst fears; my needs are un-fillable and intolerable in their there-ness, too demanding to be satiated.

Comforted only by the familiarity of loneliness. Of the absoluteness of ‘I- told-you-sos’ inextricably linked with worries that I am too much. The knowledge that these things are indisputable.

Proven wrong.

Proven right.

Alone.

I am trying to be heard. But only so that when I am not heard, when I cannot be heard, when my voice is too shrill and too much and too timid and too meaningless, that I was right all along. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Penelope’s weaving and unweaving of her loom each night, burdened both the reality of circumstance and blinded by the fantasy of what may be.


30-2

by MB


Lucky and grateful for these people who gave me the perfect night. Who are giving me the perfect weekend. Who love me and celebrate me and cherish me even when I don’t do those things for myself. Who are here to be with me to laugh and cry and act silly and help me ring in a new decade and chapter. 

Grateful to my friends who are my family, who flew here from LA to be here. With each other and with me.

For my fiancé, next to me in bed, who wants nothing more for me than a perfect weekend. 

For my sister - who has made this weekend a about me but also one about us. Who has brought us closer through these shared memories.  

For my life, imperfect and messy though it is, because it is mine. 


Last moments in Hong Kong

by MB


Weekends with old friends and Lodi and new friends and Ana and weed.  

Silly dinners and nights out and early mornings training with Steph talking about life.  

Drinks with coworkers and friends turned family and drunken roasts talking about the past and the future with equal amounts of longing and joy 


On friendships

by MB


We circled around each other - or our friendship did. It danced and jumped figure eights - forward and backward and forward again - moved and unmoved.  

We could not break from this pattern because we were stuck in this period of rhythmic stasis. Founded on old stories and memories, we had no choice but to repeatedly face the past. In doing so we stunted ourselves. We cut short the stories that brought us here, but did not enable them to build. 


Drip [September 3] - Denial of the those things for whom denial is impossible.

by MB


Written September 3  

Sweat . Rain. Tears.

The sky's mood abets my heart - as close to fantastical thinking as I'll ever come. My body - creature of the earth - falls prey. She cannot avoid nature nor can she escape its inflictions. Marks and bruises down her skull, tears in her heart. Thousands of ways to mark the passing of time, yet she chooses tears.

Swallowed by grief, an emotion familiar to her. Knots of raindrops in her throat, thunder blaring beneath the sockets of her eyeballs. Heartbeat staccato insomnia. 

Wishing away the days of the year as though they are endless, as though life has not reminded her enough of its power to deprive you of its very existence.

Fists clenched to sky - why, God, why? - a refrain familiar in its fantastical haunting. 

Willing the phone to chirp.


Your Funeral (drafted 24/8)

by MB


I attended your funeral on Friday. My presence there was accidental, a coincidence of events too absurd to be possible.

I met your son, Stephen. 

You don't know me, but I was a patient of your mom's. She saved my life. 

I asked him how he was doing. He said he was ok, given the circumstances. I can imagine that's what you would have wanted him to say. And he did look ok, I promise. So did your husband - who I did not meet but who I saw, from a distance. 

She was an incredible person, I told him. As if he didn't know. 

I cried so hard I couldn't breathe. I fought to choke back the tears in my throat. I checked my collarbone, hand over heart, in part to confirm my heart - the pieces that are left of it at least - was still beating. I took pictures and collected service cards, looking for something, anything to keep you alive.

He turned to me. said what I said today because I really meant it. It is comforting, at least a little, to know that she didn't have much time left - there was nothing they could do. It made me feel a little better, a little less "why god why" (fists shaking at the ceiling) to know that it happened so fast.

We weren't robbed of too much time. 

I don't believe in heaven, but I do wonder if you were there. Looking down at the beautiful people in that room. The room where I almost got married. 


Written June 30, 2014

by MB


(Originally written June 30, 2014)

The hardest part of writing, I've come to believe, is confrontation. When you are forced to look at your thoughts, bare and shameful and there, and acknowledge yourself as their creator. The human in which insecurities and anxieties fester and dwell. 

My modus operandi has always been predicated on avoidance. You cannot confront something that is not present. If you don't talk about it, if you pay it no attention and deny its existence, you will not have to deal with it. A persistent denial of recognition, my mind would have me believe, can eventually eradicate a problem entirely.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Writing, especially in the form of a journal or personal essay, does not indulge this fantastical way of thinking. It produces a tangible product from the throes of abstraction. What was once your greatest worry is transformed, abruptly, into an even more terrifying reality.

This is my attempt to unearth the roots of my tendency to withdraw, to shut down.