i find murder on a grand scale
hard to comprehend
when i hear numbers from wars
of people lost
i literally cannot feel it
because it is just too much to take in

i remember going down to nyc
after 9/11
my dad was volunteering his time
to adjust the firefighters and other rescue teams
and i wasn’t allowed to go in with him
so i spent my day wandering nyc

this was during the height of my eating disorder
and it was a nearly full time job to manage
all the details around it
i already planned to walk the entire day
eating my normal 420 calories
and i’d already determined which two whole foods
i was going to get my midday and afternoon salad from

i’d been going to nyc for years
my father was born in brooklyn
my grandparents lived in yonkers
and so we came to the city all the time
but that day for sure
the city felt heavy
and i was aware of an entirely different side of it
i had not experienced before

for me, growing up,
new york was a place of bright lights,
broadway and fun time as a family

we always stayed at the marriott marquis
and took taxis to get from point a to point b

i felt safe when i was with my dad
but that day i was alone
and i felt scared
and guilty

here i was obsessing about calories
and getting my steps in

and people had lost everything
their lives
their loved ones
their sense of security

i remember sitting on a park bench
staring at children playing
and noticing that there was garbage everywhere

i noticed the homeless people
in a different way than ever before
my parents would sometimes give us money
to give to them
but this time, i was actually seeing them
their faces worn
teeth gone
clothes torn

and i felt horribly
that i didn’t want to give any money
i was incredibly tight with my dollars then
it was very expensive eating low calorie
pre-packaged diet foods

and i remember hating myself
that this is what my life had come to

here i was counting calories
and walking compulsively
while my father was giving his time
so graciously to help those in need
and people around me literally
didn’t have a place to sleep

i wish i could say
this was a profound turning point for me
but it wasn’t
i just felt guilty

i remember on the drive home
my father played our favorite
soft rock station, magic 106.7
and i remembered
how in high school
when he’d pick me up from a dance party
he always had the music playing
and i would often just barely keep from crying
as the people on the radio
sang of love, hope and possibility

two questions i get asked all the time are,
what causes eating disorders
and how do you heal an eating disorder

both impossibly challenging questions
to answer without asking a few hundred more,
but i can share this…

one of the things that has made
all the difference in the world
is caring less about me
and more about those around me

now let me be clear what i mean by that…
i am not saying that self care isn’t critical
but most of us are so intensely self referencing
especially when trapped in a disorder
that it’s really hard to remember
that we have a reason for being
aside from managing our suffering

and so…

perspective is crucial

most of us walk through the world
thinking that people
are experiencing reality as we are
and then feel hurt and confused
when people act differently then we would
or aren’t considerate of our feelings
that frankly they are likely unaware of
or we are in so much pain ourselves
we cannot see the hurt or others

when it comes to disorders and addictions
there is often a triggering life event
that puts people over the edge
and often a triggering life event
that gets people on the path to healing

for me…

this day was one of many
that started to chip away at my narcissistic reality
and had me craving a different experience of life,
one where i was actually
a contributing member of society

i certainly got some perspective that day
and that little bit of perspective helped
wake me up
to how i can use my life
in a way that uplifts others
instead of in a way that that kills me

that day, that message got in
but i didn’t know what to do with it
i didn’t know how to stop
the cycle of self harming
just yet

but i got clear…

i really wanted to be somebody
more like my dad
not just a skinny girl
who was constantly obsessing about calories
and my inner thighs not touching

my father
is one of the most giving people
i know
he has shown me time and time again
real generosity

he doesn’t just give money
and praise
he gives his time, energy, and expertise
faithfully, consistently
and with the utmost integrity

i feel shame in my heart
as i share this with you
yes, on 9/11
i am sharing with you
how maintaining my weight
was more important to me
than most anything

and while
i don’t think we need to apologize
for how we choose to survive
i do think the best apology
is actually changing
is actually living a life
where we do things differently

thank you dad for being
a living breathing example
of the kind of person i want to be

sometimes i forget how lucky i am
to have such role models
as parents

this day touched me deeply
many years ago
as i am sure it did so many of you

and i hope today
if there is something you wish to change
or shift in you
you let this serve as a sign

sometimes we can feel so powerless
in the face of tragedy
and war

but you always have the ability
to change you
so start there
start with

❤️ emily joy rosen

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