Ruth, 29, suffers from eating disorders for 14 years, participant of Project 2020

I plead with her to keep on fighting, and never stop hoping for a normal and happy life. Just because it is possible and so right. Two moms are sitting in a car, parked aside by the public garden, talking. Outside the rain is pouring slowly. Winter will soon start and with it my final painting in the 2020 project. Ruth’s painting.

An update was sent to crowdfunding project supporters on 30.9. 2014:

A few months ago, Naomi asked me to give her last spot in the project to her good friend Ruth. Ultimately, we decided to add an additional painting, making it 11 in total for Project 2020. Ruth is a 29-year-old religious woman who has been struggling with anorexia on and off since she was 15. Unlike the other participants, she is married and has two daughters.

I pick her up in my car, and we head to a public park. Ruth comes from a religious family of eight, where her father, who suffered from severe eating disorders, commented on her weight and suggested she lose a few pounds when she was 15. At that time, Ruth was in a boarding school and stopped eating, eventually collapsing from exhaustion during a school trip. The counselor contacted her parents, expressing concern about her weight loss and recommending treatment. Unaware of the seriousness, her parents initially chose unconventional methods, but as her condition worsened, they hospitalized her in an eating disorder unit. After several months, she was discharged at a healthy weight and even volunteered for national service.

At 20, Ruth met her future husband through a matchmaker. On their third date, he told her he loved her, and she responded by sharing her secret. She chose not to hide anything from him, preferring that he knew everything. Despite not fully understanding the implications at the time, they married, and she miraculously became pregnant, only to miscarry shortly after. Over the next year, she had two more pregnancies, resulting in two daughters. After the births, her condition worsened, compounded by a work accident that left her nearly incapacitated for a year. With two small children, a severe accident, and a raging disorder, she struggled to function. Her husband, with incredible dedication and love, took on all household responsibilities: working, caring, cooking, and feeding everyone, including Ruth.

The rain begins to drizzle, and we get into the car. In March 2012, I met Tamar Brauner, the first participant in the project. That initial meeting with Tamar, which turned out to be the last,

took place in a downpour in the same car Ruth and I are in now. The coincidence of the project’s beginning and its end strikes me and amazes me.

Ruth shares with me her daily struggle as a mother with an eating disorder. She almost never eats in front of her young daughters and has noticed that her “monster” is starting to affect them. She recalls taking them to the pool a few months ago. While in the water, she asked them to eat the food she had brought. A few minutes later, her five-year-old daughter returned, hysterically crying, accusing Ruth of bringing too much food and fearing she would get fat.

As Ruth’s condition worsened, she nearly stopped eating and admitted herself to a day hospital at Sheba Medical Center for two months. She is now finishing that treatment. “I am fully aware that I will live my entire life with this illness; I’ve come to terms with that,” she tells me.

I look at her and begin to speak. “Your daughters look up to you and learn everything. We have a heavy responsibility as mothers, a significant responsibility not to pass on old and harmful monsters to our children. To break the cycle here and now. My children have tipped the scales for me. Uri and Yonatan are my daily proof that I succeeded. They are my guardian angels fighting the old monster in my head every day. And they are winning. Big time.

As a mother with a history of eating disorders, you confront yourself every day. The constant battle between the monster that has been in your head for so many years and the rationality, responsibility, maturity, and endless love for the miracles your body has produced. The same body you’ve been fighting against for years.

I urge her to keep fighting, not to give up hope for a normal and happy life, simply because it’s possible and so right. Two mothers sit in a car parked by a public park, talking, while the rain continues to drizzle outside. Winter is coming soon, and with it, the last painting of Project 2020. Ruth’s painting.

An update was sent to crowdfunding project supporters on 11.4.2015:

Ruth meets her painting

Three years ago, during Passover vacation, Tamar Brauner’s parents, the first participant in the project, returned home and found her unconscious. She died later that day. Three years later, Ruth, the last participant in Project 2020, came to my home to see her painting. Our meeting, delayed many months, takes place, as always, at the right time. Ruth is pregnant. Despite the difficulty she faces with her disorder, she is determined to provide the baby growing inside her a healthy environment to grow and develop. As her condition worsened at the beginning of the pregnancy, she decided to hospitalize herself again in day hospitalization. She is aware of her condition and asks for help, which in itself amazes me.

We sit across from each other in my living room, talking fluently as if half a year had not passed since our first meeting. Two mothers and an unborn baby. I ask her to continue fighting for her sanity, not to settle for living beside life. I am very proud of her for her awareness and responsibility, and I invite her to see the painting I made for her.

BALANCE | Ruth’s painting

“A Woman of Valor, Who Can Find?” is the title I chose for Ruth’s painting. She looks at it. She loves it. She connects with it, and I feel that this is it. I am done.

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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