Food for Thought

Before and After
By Andrea Wachter, LMFT

Here's how it went:

I was teased about my body for the first time, so I went on a diet.
I felt starving and obsessed, so I binged.
I felt shame and socially awkward, so I drank.
I wanted desperately to fit in, so I smoked.
I felt totally alone, so I isolated.
I constantly compared myself to skinnier girls, so I started purging.
I felt like I was never good enough, so I stayed lost in my thoughts and obsessed on my perceived flaws.
I thought I was supposed to be perfect, so I obsessed on my imperfections.
I made mistakes, so I beat myself up relentlessly.
I had glitches and conflicts with others at times, so I told myself we must be over and done.
I experienced pain and loss in life, so I told myself I was too sensitive and weak to handle them without checking out in some way.
And so went the first several decades of my life. I somehow managed to have other experiences in there too. I went to school. I traveled. I had jobs. But the constant internal message of feeling like I wasn't okay played on a repeat loop in my head.

Here’s what I did:

I found a great therapist who really understood me.
I joined a support group and found accepting, safe people who regularly challenged my self-critical thoughts.
I kept going until I believed them.
I took direction and did many of the things that were suggested to me.
I began to legalize all food and really ask myself what my body wanted and what seemed like a moderate amount.
I got better and better at picking up the phone instead of the fork.
I wrote in my journal and read many books on spirituality and self-acceptance.
I learned how to meditate and let myself be a beginner.
I reached out when I wanted to isolate.
I challenged my stories about how perfect other people’s lives were and began to believe that we all struggle.
I learned that all feelings pass if I truly welcome them.
I learned that all compulsive cravings pass if I do not succumb to them.
I learned how to follow my intuition and let ideas come to me.
I began to believe in my self-worth.
I began to believe that there is no place to “get” but rather a present moment to learn how to “be” in.
I began to forgive myself when I backslid and vowed to keep trying.
I never gave up.

Here's how it is now:

I get hungry and I eat whatever I want, in moderation.
I feel satisfied and I stop no matter what other people are eating or saying.
I get sad sometimes and I let myself cry or sob.
I get mad at times and I feel it until it passes.
I get scared sometimes and I reach out for support and in for faith.
I make a mistake or do something I wish I didn't and I immediately tell myself I don't have to be perfect.
I feel awkward sometimes at social events and I tolerate the feeling, assume many others feel the same way and I leave when I am ready.
I rest a lot without an ounce of guilt and move in ways that I love.
I speak kindly to myself almost all of the time.
I speak my truth to others and spend time with people who do the same.
I look at others and I know they're doing the best they can with the resources and history they have had.
I have many moments of peace.
When hard things happen I tell myself I can handle them and that they will pass.

Here’s what I wish for you:

The willingness to tolerate and safely express difficult emotions until they pass.
The willingness to speak to yourself in the ways you always wish others had spoken to you.
The willingness to feed yourself lovingly.
The willingness to move and rest in exactly the ways your body longs to.
The willingness to surround yourself with people you feel safe with and to be safe company for yourself.
The willingness to fill up in ways that leave you feeling better afterwards.
The willingness to find balance between doing and simply being.
The willingness to follow your heart and treat yourself with respect and kindness.
The willingness to forgive yourself and try again when you don’t.

Reprinted from: Eating Disorder Today Jan 2013

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