Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Crumbs Aren't Enough by Raquel Whiting Gilmer

Crumbs Aren't Enough
With $80,000 in student debt, an alter ego named Crazy Charlie, and more than her fair share of hang-ups, Charlie Bennett is on a mission: a mission to feel better about herself. By all accounts this shouldn't be too difficult. After all, Charlie has graduated from the best universities, has good friends to keep her sane, and an impressive resume to boot. But her poor choices in men (and therapists) have left Charlie feeling fat, fretful, and fed up. She knows something has to change--she's just not sure what. When the elevator doors open and Jack Hudson appears with his perfect smile and perfect teeth, Charlie thinks she's found her answer. A Taye Diggs lookalike who sees through Charlie's imperfections, Jack could be The One--and not just because he can make strawberry shortcake from scratch. But as their relationship develops without any sign of a commitment, Charlie is left grabbing for crumbs yet again.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
Lao Tzu
I love quoting Lao Tzu. I know he lived thousands of years ago, so it would be self-centered, if not ridiculous, to think that he was speaking about my life specifically. His words, however, sum up perfectly my journey to love and self-acceptance. But I do think he was being a bit brief. So here I sit, on Tilghman Is- land, to give you the intimate, hilarious, sometimes juicy, some- times sad backstory that Lao Tzu failed to elucidate.
If you’ve never been to Tilghman Island, it’s a beautiful place on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I’m here for the week- end, at my favorite spot, the Tilghman Island Inn. It’s 10 a.m., and I’m sitting on the pier that juts out over the dark waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The sky is a beautiful deep blue and there isn’t a cloud in it. The sun is shining warmly on my skin. Now that it’s May, the temperature is a perfect 75 degrees, and Jasmine, the innkeeper’s dog, a dark-brown standard poodle, is lying at my feet while I write.
I have always loved to be near water, so when I decided to write my life story, actually my love story, this seemed like the perfect spot. Well, the Four Seasons resort in Maui would have been the perfect spot, but I couldn’t afford the plane ticket, hotel, food, ground transportation, gifts I would have had to buy my mom . . . you get the picture.
I’m here on the beautiful, albeit polluted, Chesapeake Bay to tell you my love story—which is basically the story of my terrible relationships with men, courtesy of my low self-esteem, which then turns into a love story.
The beginning of this love story started a couple of years ago in my therapist’s office in Northwest DC. During my first ses- sion, I wrote on the intake sheet that I wanted to know my value and develop better self-esteem in my relationships with men. In other words, I didn’t think I was valuable, and my self-esteem was in the toilet. I had accepted lots of attitudes and behaviors that I shouldn’t have because I didn’t think I deserved the best. I didn’t think I was good enough. I was just happy when a man showed me any attention back. I accepted any bit of crumbs that a man was willing to give. I didn’t ask for more when I wanted more. I didn’t ask why when I wanted to know. I basically was willing to accept whatever a man was willing to give me because I didn’t think I deserved what I wanted: unconditional, passion- ate, and inspired love with someone who loved me with an equal amount of passion and desire. I now know that I deserve this and I have to fight for it.
So obviously things are different now. I promise to tell you everything.
But first let me introduce myself.
Hi, my name is Charlie Bennett. Yes, my real name is Char- lie. It’s not Charlotte or Charlene. When my mom’s best friend in college helped her pass freshman math, apparently Mom promised that she would name her firstborn after her. I guess I’m lucky her name wasn’t Elmer. Although most people still think I’m a boy before they meet me in person. I’m sorry. I di- gress. Let me start over.
Hi, my name is Charlie Bennett. I grew up in a working- class suburban community in Maryland with my awesome mom. She raised me by herself and did her best to provide me with every opportunity to be successful. She always showed me love, but her love couldn’t shield me from the cruelty of the world that led to my low self-esteem. Those issues started when I was a kid. I was a chubby kid.
Prologue | vii
viii | Crumbs Aren’t Enough
So here I am as an adult, working through those same self- esteem challenges. I still weigh more than I should. I am still trying to find my way professionally, and have $80,000 in law school loans that I will be repaying each month for what seems like the rest of my life. I owe this debt despite the fact that I de- cided not to practice law. I hated being a lawyer—the 80-hour weeks, working in isolation (it’s nothing like the TV shows), all of the pressure. But apparently this is not a sufficient reason for loan forgiveness. Please keep this in mind if you are considering law school.
Most people looking at my life from the outside may won- der why I would have trouble accepting myself. I am a very so- cial person who has lots of friends. I’ve been told I am pretty even if people follow that up with “You would look even better if you lost weight.” But, generally speaking, I feel like I got good genes in the looks department.
Despite the fact that I am lost professionally, I initially had high hopes for my professional life. I graduated from a great col- lege at twenty and went to a top-ten law school. I have had some pretty amazing jobs, including high-ranking political campaign positions. My first job out of college was a policy position in DC. I’ve even testified before Congress on policy issues and I was a panelist on a national debate show for three years.
Since you just met me, I want to be clear: I am not trying to boast or brag. I am not one of those people. You know who I’m talking about. The “I’m so great at this” people. That is not me at all. In fact, as you get to know me better, you will see that I really don’t take myself too seriously.
Like many people, maybe even you, I spent years not lik- ing myself. I worried that other women were prettier than me, skinnier than me, better than me . . . I hated my freckles, the gap between my front teeth, and the birthmark on my right foot. I thought my thighs were too big and no matter what ex-
ercises I did, I couldn’t get those skinny legs that women have on TV. You know, the legs that men seem to salivate over. I was always on a new diet or trying a new exercise class. I think I at- tempted every TV exercise fad—the Ab Roller, gliders, Tae Bo, the FIRM. I would see the ads and tell myself that if I could get those abs, that butt, those arms, then I would get the man of my dreams. And if I liked a guy, forget about it. I spent a ton of time trying to change myself to make him stay.
But things are different now.
Want to know how it happened? Well, we have to keep chatting. I can’t tell you everything right away. 
We just met!

Hi, my name is Raquel Whiting Gilmer and I am a wife, daughter, aspiring mother (I don’t have any kids yet but I want them.), sister, friend, small group leader, lawyer, entrepreneur, confidant, advisor, blogger, twitter attempter, soon to be published author, and accepter of crumbs. Well, a recovering crumbs accepter. What’s a crumb accepter? Is it as bad as it sounds? It’s bad, but it’s preventable and curable. defines a crumb as a small fragment, scrap, or portion. And it defines accepter as one who accepts. So a crumbs accepter is one who accepts small scraps. No bueno, right? How did I get like this? Well, I think my low self-esteem was the root cause of it. And I’ve learned that when your self-esteem is bad then you will accept anything including crumbs in all areas of your life. BTW, my biggest crumbs area was definitely my relationships with men. Things are different now and I have committed myself to Live Crumbs Free. Live crumbs free? Yes, I am committed to not accepting crumbs in any area of my life. But to get to this point, I had to do some work. I first had to work on my self-esteem. And after lots of therapy I got to a place where not only did I have high self-esteem but I started a website,, and a girls’ program, Perfectly Me Girls to encourage other women and girls to embrace and love who they are and not judge themselves by the world’s standards. Our motto is I’m not perfect, I’m just Perfectly Me. Once my self-esteem was on the rise, I could start to look at the crumbs in my life. And I knew I had to deal with my personal crumbs and I’m happy to report that after many failed relationships and mounds of crumbs, I met the love of my life and married him. Yay!!! I have the full meal and then some now and it has changed my life. I want everyone to have that full meal and I know how bad the crumbs are so I’ve written my first novel about a woman struggling with relationships who finally figures out that Crumbs Aren’t Enough. I hope you will read my blog at, check out my novel, and follow me on twitter, @perfectlyraquel, as I dole out advice and wisdom (my limited wisdom) on keeping your self-esteem high and getting rid of the crumbs.

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