Why Elizabeth Gilbert made me cry

Elizabeth Gilbert told me to write this blog and so I believe I’m allowed to say that it’s her fault. Up until ten minutes ago, I did not know what I was going to write about. All I know, it is raw what’s bubbling under the surface, because that’s how it feels.

This is where I am right now. I am exactly where I need to be. To get here, I needed to play hide and seek for a long time. Years to be exact, but to give me some credit; I was not aware of it.

When I started my healing journey in 2007, I did not know that it would take me here, but I was willing to find out because all I wanted was to be free from the stuff that was bugging me. I wanted to live authentically. I was hiding in shame because of my eating disorder and punished myself every day by binge eating and then throwing up. Did it help? Yes. It helped me to stay in hiding, where I desperately wanted to be. I needed to hide from my talents and my brilliance because they were freaking me out big time. I did not know that yet, but I do now, and they still freak me out. But at least I try to embrace them now.

This blog is about embracing the fullness of myself.

While I’ve ended the purging, eating can be a thing, so now and then, when life becomes a bit overwhelming or when I don’t listen to my body when I’m tired. Even with all the healing, I still eat. Not as much as I used to, not as fierce as I used to, not daily, but sometimes weekly and always monthly. I have been telling myself that it is okay until it wasn’t anymore.

elizabeth gilbert

Enter Elizabeth Gilbert

Then, this morning I was listening to the Magic Lessons podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was this podcast that made me cry.

I must admit that after reading her book Eat, Love, Pray, which I loved, that I found her new book Big Magic, a bit disappointing. Today I see that it was not disappointing; I was disappointing myself in not letting my personal magic free! In short: I was not ready for what she explained in that book.

Getting ready came after listening to a masterclass she made for my favorite meditation-app Calm this summer. I listened to it with my mouth open, shocked at how I have been hiding my creativity and authenticity behind the food. It was at that moment that I knew I had to become serious about writing. While I have been writing all my life, I have not been writing from the heart. I’ve been letting my thoughts about what you might think of my blogs play a role that was too big.

In the podcast, she works with a woman who loves writing poetry and who dearly wants to be out there with it. In a way, she is hiding her work and her brilliance, and Elizabeth Gilbert called her out on it. Geez, to be called out on your bullshit by Liz Gilbert. Sigh.

The women before me

But when she said the following words, I really started to listen:

I need to feel the presence of my mother and grandmother and the grandmothers before them, behind me. They would have given anything to be a presence in the world. I feel them behind me saying: Put it out there again. If you cannot put it out there again for yourself, then put it out there for us, who never had a voice. That is the tax I’m willing to pay. To be a woman that presents her soul’s work into the world in honor of all those who never could and all those who still can’t.

Working with the energy of the women who went before me has been the most empowering experience on my journey. Liz Gilbert helped me to remember it. I forgot that I am not alone. I have this whole team of cheerleaders behind me. While it is weird to imagine my grandmother with pompoms, I think you get the idea.

Write or write

So, I have two options: I can write, or I can write.

The first one is doing the nice accepted one, producing happy and informative blogs out there, and telling you that you can do it. The latter is about writing from my heart, you know, the raw shit. I cannot mention healing from binge eating without naming the shit by its name and holding back the words in me. Me being afraid to publish these words is the shit that I am ready to discard.

“We have the privilege to make art that people do not like.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Up to that moment, I was like, “hell yeah” and “she’s right” and “yes, I need to get it out.” But the tears came at the last of three assignments she gave the lady in the podcast.

  1. Answer this question: Who gets to decide if you are a writer?
  2. Do the deep spiritual work to call up your ancestors and ask them what they’d want you to do.
    And lastly, the game-changing assignment:
  3. Write a letter from your imaginary great-grandchildren to you, telling you how amazing your life’s inspiration is to theirs.

That last one hit me as someone whacked me on the back of my head with a frying pan because I am the granddaughter of a well-known writer in the Netherlands, and I have always looked at him for inspiration. He is part of me wanting to be a writer. I yanked off the earplugs and cried, too shocked to hear what my assignment was.

My assignment by Elizabeth Gilbert

I need to own my shit, get it out there, and if people do not like it, it is not my business. I need to send my words into the world to inspire the people who are ready to listen. I was not prepared for Elizabeth Gilbert’s book when it was published.

But I am ready now.

I am ready to inspire myself to be the person I want to be. I want to be a writer who inspires others to create an abundant life in every way they want. All this has nothing to do with the results I think I need to produce. All that counts is that I write stuff that makes me feel great and authentic. When I no longer resist the words inside me, there is no need to overeat anymore.

There will always be urges to eat, but I do not have to act on those urges. Nor do I have to listen to a voice in my head that people will not like this rawness. Too bad, scroll on. I do not have to listen to people who do not like this blog because they are not ready for what I have to say. I do this to honor myself, the women who went before me, and the great-grandchildren who come after me, and everybody who is ready to listen. Let me be that inspiration, being a person who only wants to be free to show herself.

The end.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash


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