Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's this all about? Part I: CRAVE

When I first started this blog, I had coined a phrase for myself.  It helped me reframe situations, and I named my blog for it.  I meant to build up some sense of my journey and connection, and then tell you about how I came up with the phrase.  My epiphany.  Give what you crave.  My twist on the Golden Rule.

It was a nice idea... but it was nearly two years ago.  I'm not sure I remember the story.  Either it wasn't such a stroke of genius that it left me with a lightning-bolt scar on my memory, or I have SO MANY fantastic ideas that it is a mere flicker in a city of lights.  Maybe we'll find out someday, but for now, I am taking my phrase apart to reveal what it's about (and maybe what I'm about, and maybe even what you're about).

Craving comes from a scarcity mentality.  I have been craving (food, attention, touch, intimacy, security) for most of my life.  I do have a modicum of self-control, but I didn't trust (a) myself with my desires, or (b) the universe to provide for me.  One way that I played that out was by developing a binge-eating disorder.  Associating cravings with bingeing is not a big leap, but I used food for so many years to keep my real feelings (and non-food cravings) in check, it took a long time to be able to recognize the subtleties of cravings.  I'm still in treatment, and it's still a process.

When I was craving food, or escape, or desperately trying to understand what was wrong with someone else that they weren't giving me what I craved emotionally, I started to ask myself what I was really craving.  There are all sorts of ways to get at true emotions, and for me, equating them with cravings made them something I could relate to.  Craving?  I know all about craving.

In middle school, I would crave a particular food-- a chocolate malt, or a banana split-- and the feeling of needing to have it would overwhelm me.  I would whine and carry on.  Sometimes I got what I wanted, sometimes I didn't.  Not only that, the Perfectionist was at work.  She knew exactly what constituted the perfect banana split, and if a sauce ended up on the wrong scoop of ice cream or there was only half a cherry instead of three whole cherries, with stems, one on each scoop, the Perfectionist was disappointed.  It's easy to see, now, that I was setting myself up for failure, but I didn't know.  I didn't even know the word "perfectionist" until my eighth grade English teacher took me out in the hall to let me cry away from my peers.  I had gotten a zero on my poem about cucumbers.  I was overwhelmed, and when he used the word "perfectionist," I knew it was right on-- and it also felt like the right thing to be.  What else could I be?

These are episodes in my life story where my cravings culminate in binges.

Because I'm Not Good Enough

Finding out what I really crave, and reminding myself that I am good enough to get it, or that I deserve it even if I don't get it, has been the crux of, well, years of therapy.  Every craving came from a sense of lack.  The switch flipped for me when I found that if I could identify what I was craving, even if I felt that I had nothing to give, I could give the littlest bit of it.  If I could give it, that meant it existed, and it (I) was enough.  Cue the music ("Constant Craving," of course).

Come back for Part II, the "give" part of Give What You Crave.


  1. Enjoyed this first part and can relate to cravings, both personally and observing others. I also love the Golden Rule and will watch for your second part so I can see where you go with this!

  2. What a great take on the "Pay It Forward" philosophy. I love this! I crave free time... You've just inspired me to offer to take care of a friend's kids this weekend so she can have some "ME" time.

    Thank you for this inspirational post!

  3. I'm so touched by your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable. As a woman who's also lived the majority of my 50 years identifying myself as out-of-control around food, and one who has also had uncontrollable urges and needs that have led me to be compulsive in many areas of my life, I never knew until recently that they all stemmed from my own scarcity mentality and sense of not enoughness.

    When I began to find my peace around food, that’s the first time that I realized that the many things I believed about myself that were hurting me and keeping me thinking and feeling so small and insignificant, were completely untrue.

    Not only could I, trust myself around food, but that same sense of peace and ease and self-acceptance could generalize and become a foundation of tools to trust my intuition, whether focused on business, relationships, or my body.

    By being more mindful, I can expand my sense of inner knowing and feel at one and loved by the universe. That led to a greater understanding that the core of my life’s mission and work revolved around learning myself and then teaching other women how to trust and love themselves and to move beyond the driving force of perfectionism.

    When I wrote my book, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In” I realized that the greatest goal was not to lose weight, but to learn how to love myself and validate myself to end the desperate sense of neediness that came with always wishing and hoping that others could make me feel okay. I learned that I had the capacity within to do my own healing and become whole through self-love and forgiveness and that has fueled my passion to share my message with others who also feel fearful of food and out of control in their lives.

    Thank you, Emily for helping me to gain new insight into the core of the challenge; scarcity. Until you mentioned it, I did not realize the power of the role of giving first as a means of ending the scarcity within.

    I deeply appreciate and respect your wisdom and willingness to share your discoveries.


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