Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life with ED

Many women with ED are believed to be terribly difficult and resistant. The truth is, they're some of the brightest, most talented, most creative people you've ever met. So what happened? Where do these ED's come from? Hopefully, my story will help you to understand...

I do not perceive myself as mentioned above. I see myself as worthless and unattractive. I sought help at The Emily Program to find some answers to this obsession that's consuming my life.

I've always had a sense of not quite fitting in, of not quite seeing things the way others did, of being a "misfit". My family didn't want to deal with my ultra sensitivity to emotions. Since my survival as a child depended on my fitting into the family, I had to find a way to conceal who I really was. I had to hide from others and myself, because acknowledging my differences would've resulted in extreme distress - a sense of not belonging or fitting in - that would've been unbearable. 

And so began the process of disowning the woman inside of me. I accepted others' perceptions of reality and rejected my own by taking a position that something was wrong with my perception, that something was wrong with me. This was easy since my perceptions were not validated often. I stopped listening to my inner voice for guidance and started to follow the rules of others.

As I began to search for something to distract me from my discomfort, I began to feel the first stirrings of my obsession with food. An obsession with food created a new focus in my life. I could count calories or points and agonize over every pound rather than feel my deeper pain and fears. As I intensified my struggle with my body, my fear of being different and seeing things that others did not, and the feelings of loneliness that come with not quite fitting in, receded into the background. I perceived my body as the enemy (and still do, getting more and more validation for that from weight gain, miscarrying and comments about my weight from others).

Problems with food and fat, as painful as they could be, appeared to have a simple solution compared to the other problems in my life. As I became more deeply embroiled in this struggle with fat, foot and dieting, however, this "simple solution" became more and more elusive. I know what I need to do (lose more weight), but not I can't figure out how. And so, I have developed an image of myself as flawed and helpless. The society in which we live supports that I am indeed inadequate because I lack the willpower I need to control my body.

The gift of who I am (my beauty), has become buried beneath layers of self-doubt and self-loathing. My interpretations of what I perceive are distorted by my self-doubt and self-esteem. I'm too sensitive, I'm no longer attractive and I overreact...this is what I tell myself after conversations with family, friends or my husband. And I stuff my emotional distress with thoughts of food. 

I have continued through life with the assumption that there is something very wrong with me. After all, if I see something a certain way and no one else does, there must be something wrong with me. My struggle with food confirms that indeed, there is something wrong with me. This has become my focus, my obsession: if only I could fix this problem, then everything would be okay.

This rejection of my very being, however, eventually takes its toll. As the years go by, I'm plagued with an uneasy sense of emptiness. So I try to fill myself up by compulsively eating.

With my ED out of control and my self-esteem shattered, I've found my way to The Emily Program onto the road of recovery. A road of learning to leave behind old perceptions of myself that I have adopted from others and reclaiming my own inner authorities. A road of listening to the inner voice within me to give me guidance and support as I search for my true thoughts, feelings and desires. A road where I assert myself that I am not defective. A road of finding my own reality and understanding the deep wisdom of my personal story, from a place of knowing and believing that there is nothing wrong with me, that although I've been hurt, I'm not damaged goods. A road where I recognize that my ED doesn't define who I am - instead seeing this as a much needed protective mechanism I picked up along my journey through life - something I have learned to use to help me deal with the emotional distress of being different or feeling misunderstood, unaccepted or overwhelmed.

As I walk this road, at times I feel trapped, lost, frustrated and anxious, but I keep going, placing one foot in front of the other. It's a gradual step-by-step process that will one day call me believe that there is indeed, nothing wrong with me.