I started reading my brand new signed copy of Kara Richardson Whitely’s book last night and couldn’t put it down! The Weight of Being is a beautiful, inspirational story of finding one’s self. Kara’s vulnerability is refreshing and incredibly relatable. If you have ever struggled with food, body image, trauma, or with just being human, I recommend this book. Kara openly discusses being sexually assaulted at age twelve and the binge eating that ensued after. Most of all, Kara embodies, in The Weight of Being, courage and resilience. Thanks to Kara, I am sharing an excerpt with you below. Also, she and her publisher have donated several copies to give away! Please see the note at the bottom of the post to enter to win.
To watch Kara’s recent appearance on Megyn Kelly TODAY, click here.
Excerpt, The Weight of Being
I was having a rough week. Our new au pair, Tina, who had arrived from Poland three months prior, just quit, and I worried Anna, who adored her, was going to be heartbroken. Now I had no childcare, and a big deadline was looming. Plus, I was still smarting from a root canal and an infection deep in my jawbone, the result of a lifetime of sugar eating away at my teeth. Sigh.
I knew I’d have problems as a thinner person. I knew I’d feel miserable sometimes. But, with binging off the table, I wasn’t sure what to do to feel better.
Mostly, I worried about Anna. She didn’t know Tina left yet—she was away at camp—so I had a few days to consider how I would tell her, and I was gut wrenched, imagining her reaction. She had helped pick Tina from hundreds of young women an ocean away, and she clicked with her. Sometimes, when they were giggling together, they seemed more like sisters than baby-sitter and charge. When Tina said she was leaving, it felt as though she were breaking up with us.
My reaction was strong, ugly, and hard.
I started to recognize this feeling, as it ached in the pit of my heart, as abandonment. The very same feeling I felt when my father left. I couldn’t bear for Anna to experience that feeling. I didn’t want her heart to shatter in the same way that mine had.
That night, sleepless, I found myself in the kitchen opening the cabinet. I pulled out a box of raspberry tea, heated some water, and added a tea bag to it. I sat down at the counter and felt the cool granite against my forearms. I put my hands around the cup and felt the warmth seeping in.
I exhaled. My shoulders felt heavy with the task ahead of telling Anna, and my body was absorbing my stress in a way that had gone unnoticed when I was binging.
I tried to reassure myself that Anna would be okay. Tina wasn’t an official family member, and no one was dying. That realized, I remembered that my brain could sometimes overestimate responses. I lived in danger-response mode, seeking a crisis. The more I breathed and looked at the situation, the more I recognized that perhaps, although Tina was important, this wasn’t going to be the end of the world.
Most things weren’t. Still, it was okay for me to process and understand that, to go deeper in ways to keep me and my family healthy.
Later, when my friend Marybeth invited me for a hike, I said yes. The thing about hiking is that it gives you a long stretch of time to walk and talk. You can come back to the same conversation again and again over different terrain and have a completely different perspective.
I confessed to Marybeth that I was overreacting but that I also couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to see Anna’s heart broken, when there was nothing I could do. How would Anna cope?
That’s when I realized why I was so worried for Anna. I was nine years old when my dad left and I turned to food to survive. It was the beginning of my tumultuous relationship with eating. This, it seemed, was a juncture in her life where things could take her down a bad path.
I had recently learned that 50 percent of children who have an obese parent will also struggle with obesity. I didn’t want a loss to send Anna into that half of the kids who seek comfort with food. Not Anna! And not now, when we both had come so far.
Marybeth was helpful. She reminded me that to help Anna I had to help myself. I was doing all the right things, putting one foot in front of the other. I had to keep working through life. Keep doing the things that brought me joy. Keep working through the experiences that brought me sorrow, knowing that I didn’t need food to help me recover from them.
Life with a healthy relationship with food wasn’t perfect, she acknowledged. It was messy, ugly, and complicated. But problems like these could be managed.
As we turned a corner in the trail, sweaty from walking for more than a mile, Marybeth had one more important reminder: Anna was not being abandoned.
Abandonment and food issues were mine. They didn’t have to be Anna’s.
“There was no one for you when you were going through those things. All you had was food,” she said. “She has you.”
And so she does.
Excerpted from The Weight of Being by Kara Richardson Whitely. To learn more, read the book!
Win a Signed Book! To enter to win a copy of The Weight of Being, please post a comment below, sharing one nugget of recovery wisdom related to trauma or eating disorders. (e.g., Seek professional help. Never give up. Connect with others.) Three winners will be selected from all who comment.