Working towards safety

this post is all about eating disorders, and may be very triggering if you have or have had an eating disorder. Please read with caution

I’m curled up, knees to my chest, head down. It’s Thursday, and Bea is talking about Eating Disorders.

“That conference I went to, really focused viewing eating disorders a little differently. It’s what we were talking about a little in our email. With the eating disorder behaviors never really healing completely until the trauma is processed.”

I don’t say anything, but I’m thinking. I’m thinking back to all the years of eating disorder therapy; all the cognitive behavior therapy combined with talk therapy, therapists who specialized in eating disorders, group therapies, weigh-ins with nurses at my doctors office, diagnosis of bulimia, anorexia, eating disorder not otherwise specified, I’m thinking of pretending to get better but never really stopping my behaviors.

“This is why my behaviors never stopped?” I ask, quietly, tentatively. I’m unsure I want to go here, to do this.

“That’s my theory,” Bea says, “Since the trauma wasn’t addressed there was no real way to get better, right? I mean, the healthy part of you kept getting healthier and developing into a competent adult, but the frozen in time parts of you remained untouched. It’s sort of like having a ball of kryptonite in your gut exerting influence over you no matter how hard you try to live your life and pretend it’s not there.”

I nod my head, it makes sense. It’s why I got better, but not. It’s why I was able to function, but continuer my behaviors in a very secret, hidden way. I

“I think you have to make a choice, here,” Bea tells me, “You made one, when you kept working so hard to get your message to me that you weren’t okay, that you aren’t eating and cutting everyday. You decided that wasn’t okay to be doing.”

I’m silent, but she’s right. When I told her, I has decided this wasn’t okay, that I needed help before I fell all the way down the rabbit hole of this eating disorder. Now that it’s out, though, I don’t really know if I want to be pulled out of this rabbit hole.

“I think you have to decide if you want to stop, you have to really be ready. There were a lot of good ideas at this conference, and I met a great eating disorder therapist that we can talk to if we need to—-”

“No. I’m not talking to someone else,” I say quickly, interrupting before she can even finish the thought. That is not happening.

“Alice. I’m not an expert in eating disorders. I know some, I can work with you, I can help, I can get you back to your standard of safety, I believe that as your trauma is processed, you won’t need your behaviors, but if and when you are ready to give this up, and reach for the dream, the goal for your life you told me about, then we made need to collaborate with someone who is an expert.”

I don’t say anything, I’m ignoring this. I don’t want to hear it. No experts, no nurtrionists, no meal plans. Nope. I don’t have a “real” eating disorder anyway, I tell myself.

“Well, when you’re ready, we can make a list of all the things the eating disorder gives you, or has given you, and all the things it has taken away from you. You could write a letter to the eating disorder, and say goodbye. I don’t think you’re ready to do that yet.”

“Not yet. I don’t know. Maybe a list. Not today,” I say. My thoughts are all confused, I having trouble thinking straight.

Bea and I talk a little more about eating disorders, my fear of Kat inheriting my issues, but also how Kat is my reason for being almost ready to stop.

As I leave, I think that on my list of negatives would be tiredness and not being able to think clearly.

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8 thoughts on “Working towards safety

  1. Everything in its own time. You are right to take things slowly, especially because telling Bea about your coping strategies was already such a risky and brave decision!

    P.S. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words about my blog and nominating me for the award. I made a decision a while back not to focus on the blog awards thing and instead personally thank people for thinking of me and pass it forward when I find others to compliment. That said, I hope you know how much I get from you sharing your journey here. Your personality shines through! All the best x

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  2. I can tell you that after countless expert therapists, eating disorder centers, months and months of residential programming…it didn’t help. It took the focus off of the “kryptonite” and onto calories, foods, weight and fear. Nearly 30 yrs later I’m finding myself better because my therapist doesn’t focus on it. Sometimes I bring it up but it doesn’t make it better. I really believe that if I can work through this abuse stuff that Bea is correct…I won’t need the ed and all the craziness associated with it. I’m actually kind of wanting for the dx to be gone…maybe not quite ready to give up the behaviors. In time.

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    • Yes….it’s a breath of fresh air not to have someone freaking out if I have an ED behavior, as long as it’s staying where Bea (or I) deem it “safe.” My behavior as of late as become not safe, and so we have been talking more about it. Which still has been different with her than what I have experienced with the ED experts. Maybe it’s because Bea is a trauma therapist, she looks at it differently. I don’t know. I think it’s interesting that we are both hitting the same point of dealing with the krytonite (abuse) so far down the road into ED journey. Hmmmm….maybe times and the way ED’s are treated are really changing.

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      • Who knows, but ironic that our paths should cross. I think we just got very good therapists who get trauma. ED therapy has stayed the same…i just attended the DTP program at the Cleveland Clinic in April and only lasted one week, it was terrible.
        Anyways, I emailed the yoga studio close to where i work and they have someone certified in trauma sensitive yoga. I’m feeling totally overwhelmed but maybe this would help?! Here is what she had to say…

        We have a body karma healing workshop coming up in the near future that specifically deals with how to become comfortable in your body. The fee for this is a donation based. Any amount is fine. We donate to a charity in town. It will follow with a 4 month( once a month series in the new year) for those that are interested in continuing. We are working on the dates and times currently. We also offer privates sessions with a yoga instructor that is trained and specialized in this area for $70/session. The classes that you my find the most healing in would be the Gentle Yoga on Monday and Friday mornings at 9:15am and the Yin Yoga on Monday evenings at 8:15pm. You may also enjoy the Slow Burn Flow on Thursday evenings at 6:15pm.
        You will heal from this and yoga can be another piece to get you there. I have some wonderful books that you can borrow if you like. The main foundation of yoga is Ahymsa which means being kind/gentle(non-harming) in our thoughts, words and actions. It teaches us ways to love ourselves and to be comfortable in our shell. It helps us learn a new way of thinking. It takes time-nothing is simple, but it sounds like you are on that path of healing. I know you can get there, and I hope we can help you in that process. Stay strong!

        Let me know if you would like more details in our offerings or if there is any other thing you need.
        I hope we will meet you soon,
        Peace,
        T
        The Studio on Liberty

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      • I’m sad that ED therapy has stayed the same….I’ve stayed out of that world for almost 10 years now, and my married life has been about hiding the ED behaviors. I’m fact, I’m quick to say I have behaviors, not a “real ED” which Bea is quick to point out is my defense…..oh my. But, at least with her, it doesn’t matter, as she is about keeping me as safe as possible and working through the trauma.

        I think it might be worth looking into the yoga, although it took me months to even be willing to think about, after Bea brought it up. I have a post, I think it’s the one prior about my first yoga experience recently. 🙂

        This yoga studio sounds like they want to help, and that is really awesome. My plan is to utilize private sessions for now, and then try to transition either into a specific trauma informed class, or a gentle yoga class. I think the most beneficial thing about the private session is that I did not have to dissociate to try to act like everyone else in the class…..I could try to be aware, not really feeling my body because I’m too diconnected, but aware of what was going on and what she was saying. And the teacher didn’t expect me to feel anything. Which took a lot of pressure off. I’ll be curious to know what you decide. 🙂

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      • It’s interesting to read what you just wrote about being disconnected in a group because that’s exactly what I’ve always done but never realized that i was disssociating. Actually i never knew how much i disconnect until i started therapy. But i can go through all the motions and have no clue what I’m doing, feeling, thinking…I’m there but not really.
        And i had stayed out of the ed world since i was pregnant with my now 14 yr old (and i have a 12 yr old). Time flies but i loved being pregnant and i love being a mom. I guess one can only tame kryptonite for so long.
        Have a nice sunday.

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      • I never knew either, I knew but I didn’t know, if that makes sense. 🙂

        I think I was at my healthiest, eating behavior and attitudes wise, when I was pregnant with Kat (she’s 4). I just didn’t think about it, I ate to nourish the little person growing in me. I loved pregnancy. 🙂

        I’m glad our paths have crossed, I’m so sorry for your pain, but I love reading your blog, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. It’s even nicer to know I’m not the only mom who is dealing with these things. It makes me feel a little less defective. 🙂

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