Monday, April 19, 2010

Bleeding heart

I'm working on an essay for that promises to be the most personal thing I've ever published anyplace other than here. It's about Jewishness and compulsive overeating, which seem correlated, though mostly through semi-anecdotal evidence and studies from quite a few years ago. I mentioned in therapy today that talking about my struggle with food addiction is a way of cutting through the shame of that insidious, widely misunderstood problem, and I think that's true.

It's possible that opening my heart in a piece of writing that the whole world can theoretically see isn't the wisest move. But I think there are some advantages to our tell-all Internet culture; one is that if the majority of people give TMI, it's no longer such a faux pas. I doubt anybody will decide not to hire me because they Googled my name and found me waxing philosophic about my Lexapro use or disordered eating.

It's certainly possible, but I think the positive aspects of putting it out there outweigh the negative ones. It's not like there's anything online that truly impugns my character. Talking about struggle, making it public, means it's no longer a secret. It also suggests a readiness to deal with things directly, to come out of isolation and embarrassment and work with myself as I am, not as I wish I was. That's why I chose my friend Michelle's recent picture of me as a Facebook profile photo:

My decision to take off my glasses makes this a slightly strange portrait, but what I focused on when I first saw it was its unsparing nature. It's easy to see my weight here: It's in my face, my cheeks, my chin. This is how I actually look, and while I'm not doing cartwheels about it, I'm trying to view this image with clear eyes and a peaceful mind. This is what I'm working with, and it's hardly perfect, but it's not a disaster, either. It's a pretty decent place to start.

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