There's something different about me in this photo. It took me a little time to figure out what it was: I'm not smiling.
For those of you who know me, I'm basically always smiling. In fact, I remember going to college on my first day and the security guard looked at me and said "Your Native American Name is Smiles-a-Lot". Actually, he didn't say "Native American" and in retrospect maybe it was kind of a racist thing to say. But the idea is that smiling is pretty inherent to my nature. I'm a sunny, upbeat person.
In my previous life as CakeSpy, I capitalized on my sunny nature. Basically, I embodied a lifestyle of all cake, glitter, sugar, and happiness. At all times. This was very authentic to me, don't get me wrong. But it wasn't the full version of me. At times, I felt very one-note, like I had rendered myself into a cartoon character.
So the fact that I am not smiling in this photo seems to speak volumes about the current place I am in life. Not unhappy, but at the point of Big Transition.
Saying goodbye to CakeSpy
As you probably know if you're on this site, a little less than a month ago I made the decision to lovingly say goodbye to CakeSpy. It was a massive decision, and I felt extremely supported by the beautiful responses I received from readers both old and new.
One of the big reasons why I said goodbye to CakeSpy is because I want to fully recover from my eating disorder.
I have suffered from disordered eating since the age of 13. At the age of 30, I entered recovery in earnest, and have identified as "mostly recovered" since then. But there have been certain aspects of the disorder, including obsessive food thoughts and calorie counting, that have remained problematic for me.
I realized that running CakeSpy was perpetuating some of the behaviors that were holding me hostage in mostly-but-not-totally recovered purgatory.
I hated to admit this to myself, but it was true. I realized that to truly kick my eating disorder for ever and ever, I had to remove food as the primary focus in my life. And that meant giving up CakeSpy.
This is somewhat ironic, because in many ways, CakeSpy was a vehicle for my early recovery.
Operating a food blog helped me be less scared and more curious about food. It helped me come back into the world. But as I progressed in recovery, the continued exposure to food began to act in a different way. I found that it kept the obsessive food thoughts coming my way. It also kept me eating a high sugar diet which honestly was not doing me any favors health-wise, as much as on an emotional level, it made me feel good and loved and treated well.
I realized that to continue progressing in recovery and as a human being, my focus had to shift from food to actually living life. I don't want food to be the most important thing in my life anymore. I want to eat food so that it can fuel me being awesome. I want my art, my writing, and my relationships to be the most important things in my life.
So who am I now?
Now that CakeSpy is over, I feel like part of me has died. I feel like I have also been reborn, so that leaves me feeling like an infant. The world seems totally full of beautiful untapped opportunity in every direction...and yet kind of scary at the same time.
On the one hand, I don't feel all that different. I am still doing artwork and writing assignments for various clients. I am still keeping busy and doing yoga and collecting unicorns. But on a very basic and pure level, there's been a huge shift in my identity. I'm not Jessie the CakeSpy anymore.
I'm just Jessie now.
So who is this Jessie who believes in full recovery and is going to try to find it? Here are some things I know for now:
I am recovering. I truly do believe in full recovery from eating disorders. I believe I have taken a powerful step toward recovery in shifting away from CakeSpy.
I am an adult. They say that when you enter recovery from an eating disorder, you are emotionally the age at which your disorder onset. So if I entered recovery at age 30 but my disorder's onset was at age 13, then now at age 36 I'm emotionally a 19 year old. Actually, I think this might be pretty accurate. But now that I've given up my website, I think I'm ready to focus on actually being an adult, as hard as it might be for me to catch up on those "lost" emotional and developmental years.
I'm a little scared, but I'm strong. Sure, I'm a little scared of this Big Transition in my life. But I'm financially stable, I am talented and funny and cute, and I have good ideas. I'm strong, and I know I'm going to be ok.
I'm human. I think that one of the biggest transitions is going to be shifting from the cartoon character version of myself to a more human version of myself. Somewhere along the line I think I slipped into the persona I set up for CakeSpy and didn't give myself permission to come out. I'm ready to just be a person. Someone for whom it's not always just cake and sweetness (though let's be honest, it is still largely unicorns and rainbows).
Oh, and permission to be someone who doesn't have to smile all the time.
Back to that photo at the top for a second. The other day asked my mom to take the photo to capture the ridiculous face my little pug Olive was making. But then as she was taking the photo someone must have said something to me or something, because I looked away.
What I see in that photo is a very honest face, and a very real version of me.