Naomi, 22, bulimic for 5 years, participant of Project 2020

"That’s it, Sarit. That’s the special thing I wanted to show you. I wanted to show you that while your project hasn’t completely healed me and that despite the improvement, the road is still long, your project made me realize that I am trying and fighting only for myself. "

An update was sent to crowdfunding project supporters on June 22, 2014:

On Friday, I traveled to a city in the Sharon area to meet Naomi, a beautiful 22-year-old woman with stunning eyes and a captivating smile. Naomi has been suffering from bulimia for 5 years. A few days earlier, she sent me a message asking me to give her place in the project to a good friend of hers who has been anorexic for 13 years. Something inside me told me I shouldn’t give up on the process with Naomi. When we met, I realized how strong my intuition was.

Naomi is a religious girl who doesn’t believe in God. When she tells me her story, I can understand why. She is the eldest daughter in an ultra-Orthodox family, an exemplary family. Everything seems fine from the outside: well-mannered children, a father who is a teacher, and a mother who is a housewife. But inside Naomi’s home, nothing is fine. Without looking me in the eyes, she starts to talk about her father, who, in addition to being violent, used to harass her, and about her mother, who had severe eating disorders and complete naivety, failing to protect her from him. She talks about periods when she turned to food for comfort and gained a lot of weight, and the harsh and humiliating treatment she endured at home because of it.

Despite the complete ignorance about this issue in the ultra-Orthodox community, Naomi decided about a year and a half ago to start getting treatment at the “Agam” center, a day center for eating disorders.

There, for the first time, she told the psychologist who accompanied her about the shocking circumstances that led to her condition. With immense inner strength and the encouragement of the psychologist, she left home about a year ago and moved to live independently, after canceling three matchmaking attempts.

Naomi is a strong and smart woman. She chooses not to confront her father at the moment and to continue with her life. She knows her abilities and wants to look forward and realize her potential despite everything. She works two jobs, studies for a degree at the Open University, and takes care of herself at the same time. I wonder how she manages to do all this alone, without support, family, or God. A woman worthy of admiration with immense strength and an amazing personality.

We talk about bulimia. I tell her about “the lost years,” as I call the entire third decade of my life, the decade when I should have been enjoying life. About this terrible and dark disorder that took so many years and experiences from me that will never come back. About the slow and difficult recovery and the full and beautiful life afterward.

The next day, in response to the questionnaire I sent, I received the following email from her, and again I understood why I chose to embark on this journey.

Hey Sarit, 

Very soon, I’m going to sit down and fill out the questionnaire… I really want to answer it. You don’t understand, all Shabbat I had your words echoing in my head: “Don’t wait until you’re 30 to get rid of this terrible illness! Don’t look back at the years you lost. And also, don’t settle with it, don’t learn to live alongside it, but without it, because it’s possible…” Suddenly, I feel a desire to invest in getting out of this, seeing how good you are – it’s amazing!!! I want that too.


From the process of creating the painting

Update sent to crowdfunding project supporters, 29.8.2014:

Naomi meets her painting

Two days ago, Naomi came to see her painting. With her permission, I’m sharing the email she sent me yesterday. Honestly, I was moved, even on the second and third readings:

Dear Sarit,

They say all a child needs is one adult to believe in them, and I think all an adult needs is another adult to prove it’s possible! I didn’t know what I would write. I’ve written many letters in my life… and I didn’t want this one to be just another among hundreds or thousands. I wanted it to be special.

Special like this thing you are doing. Special like coming and saying, “I won the battle, and you can win too.” So, I thought I would simply attach a section from my diary (yes, I still keep a diary:). A section written two weeks ago that I think tells it all:

‘Ugh, I had another week of binging and purging… I will never recover, people in this world just disappoint. No family, no therapists, no friends… there is no point in trying. Maybe I should just give up?

Dear diary, only to you do I dare to cry. Everyone sees only the wide smile on my face. No one can expect anything from me! No one in my place would survive a minute! Right??? Dear diary, right? Please tell me to give up, tell me to give up!!!
No! Dear diary, I am talking nonsense… No one could indeed blame me if I lost the battle. But there is one person, someone Sarit from the project introduced me to. Do you remember? There’s one person I owe it to and am afraid to disappoint. Someone, if I don’t help her, no one will…

LAGOS | Naomi’s painting

Yes, dear diary. Her name is Naomi, and she is 30 years old. Naomi at 30 will look back… and I have two choices. To ensure she continues to write to you that she wants to give up, or to ensure she looks back at me, Naomi at 22, looks deep into my eyes, and says, “Thank you, Naomi, thank you for not giving up.”

That’s it, Sarit. That’s the special thing I wanted to show you. I wanted to show you that while your project hasn’t completely healed me and that despite the improvement, the road is still long, your project made me realize that I am trying and fighting only for myself. The repeated attempts, the never-ending battles, and the seemingly far-fetched optimism that often seems so distant and impossible are solely for me, for Naomi at 22 who wants a better future, or in other words, for Naomi who wants 2020.

So Sarit, do you understand? You gave me something that cannot be measured in words. You gave me something truly precious… you simply gave me myself.

Yours, with love and appreciation, Naomi’

Project 2020 exhibition:

Project 2020 is an optimistic social art project. The project began in 2012 and continued until 2015. The project was inspired by my personal and optimistic journey to overcome a 16-year struggle with an eating disorder.

For project details and artworks

Project 2020 | Solo exhibition

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