The Island Artist
Emma Wright can’t be summed up as just an artist even though that in itself is impressive. She also writes every day, has penned an Amazon bestseller, Feel Good Friday, has a loyal following of people online and creates beautiful things for others, like books and courses for those who want a creative life. Plus she lives with her young family on a stunning island off Auckland, New Zealand.
Here’s some of her work:
Sigh. Could she be any more successful and sorted?
Would she sound different described as ‘a middle-aged mother who battled bulimia from the age of 14 to her late 30’s and is grateful she just managed to squeeze in kids before it was too late?’
This site exists is to show others who have, or had, bulimia that it doesn’t have to define us.
Bulimia’s not part of Emma’s success story but it is who she is. And now she writes and paints and inspires others to live and love and she wouldn’t have the passion for that if she hadn’t been through the fire. As James Altucher says, “flowers grow from shit”.
Emma and I met in a café recently over tea and joked about not eating so we wouldn’t watch each other. We couldn’t stop talking – two bulimics shooting the breeze over bad barfing stories, both surprised how similar our tales were and instinctively knowing our dark secrets wouldn’t shock the other. We laughed. And then cried when we both shared our recovery story because they were also the same – the simple moment when we realized the only way forward was to stop hating our bodies, and that the knuckle scars eventually heal. And that shame is a waste of our energy.
It was very cathartic.
So many of us go through bulimia alone, even if we’re sharing our thoughts and words online, because nobody can join us in locked bathrooms. Meeting Emma reminded me that I am OK because here’s this successful artist slash writer and she did the same ridiculous things I did. We were going to do an interview but it was too important to have a conversation, so we decided to share a post Emma wrote last year about how she healed herself. She said she was terrified to come out to her fans and overwhelmed by the response.
Please share her story, like it, comment if you dare. And remember I am always looking for more FABIKs, please email me, Angela, on awesomebulimicsIknow@gmail.com.
How I Began To Heal From Obsessive Eating.
I was fourteen when my obsession with food started. Which in turn began with a single thought – I’m fat and ugly and need to do something about it.
The thought happened after a friend of our family looked at a photo of me and made the throw-away comment, not meant to hurt or harm, but simply show opinion – “Emma’s not as thin anymore, she really is turning into an adult.”
I looked at the photo and saw a chubby girl. “Yikes,” I thought, suddenly hating my body. I had never before that moment given it a thought.
So this is how it went. “I’ll skip lunch.” The idea being I wouldn’t eat anything between breakfast and dinner. That afternoon, I locked myself in my room, hungry beyond sanity. That night, I ate more dinner than ever before. Then went on eating during the evening, going back to the kitchen to snack and try and fill the hunger that had settled in.
That day marked the start of life-long obsessive food related thoughts, along with their counterpart self-loathing, setting up camp between my ears and staying long past their welcome date. I also parked my sanity and self-love under the twin caravans of distress and disgust and left them there to rot.
To compensate for the extra eating I did, I tried again to starve. That lasted less than one day, not even until dinner. Instead I took food to my room and ate. And ate. And ate. The relief from the emptiness so full and satisfying I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t until I was so stuffed a consciousness for what I had done came over me and with it a revolt so deep I could have launched a boat on it and sailed away.
The bingeing gave way to purging and so it was, for years on years.
Sometimes I’d go a week or two with relative sanity. Managing to keep the bingeing at bay. These times though were rough seas to sail. Nails dug in. Anazyling what I was eating. Making lists of what I could and couldn’t eat in my mind. Always thinking tomorrow I’d be different.
Tomorrow, sweet tomorrow. I’d be better. I’d be good. I’d somehow wake up and never touch sugar again. Somehow the desire to eat would be gone. I ate my way through grocery stores worth of food with the idea that tomorrow I would wake up a sane and normal eater, slim, fit and happy.
I chased ten pounds up and down the scales gaining and losing that same small number over and over and over again. I gave the number on that scale all sorts of inhuman power; to suggest what kind of day I’d have. The lower the number the better I’d feel and of course, vice-versa.
By this time I’d been to Overeaters Anonomous for many years. I’d read countless spiritual texts, I’d tried meditation and psychotherapy, I’d been to The Landmark Forum. All of which had some impact, but none of which offered me the deep transformation I sought. Nothing yet had allowed me to embrace myself with the full unconditional love a mother instinctively has for her newborn, nothing had allowed me to grasp my obsession by the hand and thank it, with deep gratitude. Nothing has shown me the amazing gift I had in my grasp but couldn’t yet see. Nothing had allowed me to love myself so fiercely I couldn’t but drop to my knees and love my obsession for giving me a door into who I was. That, my friend, was yet to come.
My true healing started in my late thirties. In a small room in LA, where I had gone for three months to paint. I found myself so disheartened with the same obsessed thinking, I made a pact. I, from this day on, will stop trying to be different. I will stop trying to escape from these thoughts. I will stop trying to not want to binge. If I need to eat, I will. I will make my foods available to myself. I will allow all that I am to simply be. But more than that, I will love and connect to that part of me that is bigger than this. I will attend to myself like a child, accepting myself exactly how I am.
I stopped naked and stood face to face in the mirror with the body I hated and vowed then and there to love that body. I apologised to every lump and bump. I forgave myself for the hating. I told my body I would never subject it to that kind of shaming again. And that when my mind started going to those old thoughts, I’d let them go and bring in their place new, better ones.
I vowed to learn to live in a whole new way. I vowed to stand up for a life worth living.
The practices I took on during that stint in LA are practices I’ve deepened over the last ten years. The ones that form the bases of my transformation are in line with what I call the Seven Spiritual Laws of Peaceful Eating.
These seven Laws are the subject of my next series of books.
Please read Emma’s books: Feel Good Friday: 40 Unexpected Ways To Feel Good About Your Life. Or if you need to change up how you view food and yourself and your life and body and get some funny, real, good advice from somebody who totally gets it then Emma’s second book, Love Your Body, Change Your Life is out now:
Want more? If you’re not one of the 11 million people who have watched model, Cameron Russell’s brilliant TEDx talk on ‘Looks Aren’t Everything’ then enjoy it here.