Binge, Pray, Whine

I’ve never read the book “Eat, Pray, Love” and I haven’t seen the movie. I have nothing against it, it’s just that I have trouble with the “eat” part. Reading about that isn’t helpful to a recovering binge-eating addict.

Mood music:

My therapist actually brought up the book during one of our sessions. He wanted to know if I’d read it. I scowled at him and asked why the hell a guy like me would ever read a book like that. Then he started raving about what a powerful story of self-discovery it is.

I told him I don’t care about some woman traveling around the world eating, praying and loving. I have a habit of taunting my therapist.

By the way, he hated the movie adaptation.

I’m bringing all this up because a friend was on Facebook the other day expressing a similar view on the book — or at least her perception of the book.

She said she “refuses to read Eat Pray Schtup or watch the movie” and added:

“I just think there are too many adults who right tell-alls of their screwed up lives. It’s always a story like: “drink/drug/sex addict leaves abuser/partner/dysfunctional family to join an ashram/climb Everest/sail around the world and discovers another dysfunctional relationship/they are just as screwed up only better traveled/Jesus. Actually, I am OK with that last one but why can’t they just Grow Up And Deal withoout writing a pathologically narcissistic book about it?”

As someone who tells all about his formerly screwed-up life in this blog, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

There can be no doubt whatsoever that people like us have a strong narcissistic streak in us. You’ll never find a more self-absorbed person on this Earth than the one who struggles with mental illness and addiction. My personal examples are here, here and here.

But I think it’s OK to write about it as long as there’s some valuable insight for someone who needs it. At worst, it’s harmless.

I’ve seen good tell-alls and bad tell-alls. The bad ones tend to be books that focus on burning people other than the author. The “set-the-record-straight” crap.

People like us do get a ton of healing from the writing process. When we “tell all” we get all the slime out of our head. Most people do that in the form of a personal diary. I guess I did it as a public blog because I wanted other outcasts to see that they weren’t freaks and could go for a better life.

I do agree with my friend that the “going around the world to find myself” stuff is annoying as all hell. I recently saw a commercial on TV for a new series where this guy keeps having conversations with his dead brother and ultimately decides to take a boat ride around the world to find himself or become a man or whatever.

I glared at the screen and said to Erin, “Well that’s just stupid.”

I’ve had conversations with my dead brother plenty of times. But I didn’t need to steal a boat out if Quincy to purge the insanity in my head. Prozac worked for that. And my brother would have told me I was being an idiot, anyway. 

I have nothing against “Eat, Pray, Love.” How could I? I haven’t read the thing.

I also don’t object to tell-alls, as long as the author is honest.

As for some of the lines I’ve heard about from the book, including the one about God giving you Girl Scout cookies before slamming the door in your face, that’s pretty damn dumb, if the book really says that.

God would never give me Girl Scout cookies. He knows I’d just binge the box away.

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4 thoughts on “Binge, Pray, Whine

  1. Hi Bill,
    Just saw this as a repost, and was wondering what you thought about it a year later.
    Honestly I was surprised at the tone conveyed by you and your friends. The obvious retort is who are you to be so flippant about a woman who is struggling, and has the strength to change her life. Even if this story is fiction, it is certainly not fantasy.

    There’s nothing noble about being middle aged and refusing to leave a dead end life just because “traveling is stupid.” I think it’s noteworthy to point out that she did not have any kids, and was not doing anyone any good by staying at her job.

    Speaking to each action one by one, in “Eat” I think the message sent to women that it is okay to eat food is much more poignant than the slant that she is “binge eating.” This strikes me as very ugly that you imply she is being unhealthy because she discovers a ‘love for food’. Another quote from the story is “I haven’t had a carb in two years”. That is the unhealthy behavior. Her eating makes her feel passionate, not ill. Also, I think there is a difference between fast food and the ‘slow food’ that is the bulk of food in Italy.

    Ironically, it is the Pray verb that you might have had the most to be contentious with. As someone that is comfortable with prayer, you might find her struggles in this regard edifying. I think the story really needs to be called Eat, Meditate Quietly, Love. I wouldn’t say she ever really “prays.” But we Catholics sometimes think we invented prayer. 😉

    As for Love… Oh, I’m sorry, I mean shtupping and whining! What, are we in grade school?? Nicknames?? What kind of positive attitude about two reasonable adults is that? It’s called sex, and in the story which you haven’t seen the woman is actually quite reserved and is a grown up that only sleeps with the man that she eventually ends up with. When the author says “Love” she actually means that she falls in love! As for replacing Love with Whining, I just fail to see why you would do that. Your distinction between what you’re doing with OCD Diaries and EPL is pretty unclear. It seems to be that if a person stays home and works through their issues by going to therapy and writes about it they’re being helpful, if they go traveling on a sabbatical and write about it they’re whining.

    Perfect example of how it is unclear, you say the girl scout line is “pretty damn dumb” but then you end your blog post with it 🙂

    I would love to hear if you’ve had any new thoughts about this in the passing year. I know it won’t be the case that you’ll watch the movie, but I would just like to say in its defense that as someone that *is* the target audience of the story, I got a lot out of it. Maybe you could interview friends on both sides of the off-handed-facebook-comment fence before going on a rant in the future.

    I get a lot out of your posts as well, Bill, Thanks for writing. Sorry if that came off as a rant as well!

  2. Pingback: How Many Times Should a Man Say He’s Sorry? (Inspired By Kevin Mitnick) | THE OCD DIARIES

  3. I wanted to hit the “Like” button on this post but I can’t unless I sign into a WordPress account. I think I’ve become too dependent on the “Like” button. Anyway, this was a punchy post and I LIKED it.

  4. The ‘Tuscany’ movie a few years back was similar. These are fantasy movies or escape movies, but they do effect people’s behavior and attitudes. Encouraging single woman to empty their bank accounts for a worldwide jaunt, as they get squeezed out of the job market due to age discrimination is not a good idea.

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