Healing an eating disorder is a journey, a journey to the center of your being, to the memories of past traumas and feelings you have buried. It is a journey to the forgotten or never recognize wounds you have sustained. Your therapist is your guide, your Sherpa, who will guide and accompany you as you descend into the valleys, and scale the peaks of your interior landscape on your journey of self-discovery and healing. With deep exploration and the sharing of your trauma, the source and generator of the compulsive energy fueling your out-of-control eating will be discovered, excavated, explored and dissipated.
If you have an eating disorder, trying to make changes in your relationship with food, without doing the work of reconnecting to the parts of you that have been abandoned or forgotten, will be futile. You will most likely get stuck in the never-ending loop of chasing one food plan (read ‘diet’) after another. You will get more and more frustrated and end up feeling like a failure. Getting in touch with your feelings and risking sharing the most vulnerable parts of yourself, is the only path I know that leads to true healing of addictive behaviors. And compulsive eating is a behavioral addiction. In your explorations, staying on the surface is like swimming against a riptide. You will become exhausted and dragged out to the sea of self-blame, self-recrimination, and self-hate. The compulsion to overeat will get stronger because the drive is always toward healing and the compulsion is your way of getting your own attention. It is telling you something is very wrong and that it is dangerous to ignore the symptom, this sign of distress.
In your explorations, staying on the surface is like swimming against a riptide. You will become exhausted and dragged out to the sea of self-blame, self-recrimination, and self-hate. The compulsion to overeat will get stronger because the drive is always toward healing and the compulsion is your way of getting your own attention. It is telling you something is very wrong and that it is dangerous to ignore the signs of distress.
To heal an eating disorder, you have to make the journey deep down into your most hidden and secret place. These are the places where you keep the secrets of your life from yourself. This is where your shame and self-hate thrive in the dark. It is only by bringing these secrets out into the light that you can face your fear of the truth and release yourself from the suffering of past wounds, betrayals, and traumas. Sharing your pain with a receptive, empathic, non-judgmental and wise other is healing. The antibiotic effect of light is the antidote to the infection of shame. It is only by facing and sharing your darkest secrets that you can transform them and release them. Just as energy cannot be destroyed, but can be transformed, our feelings, which are energy, are transformed by expressing them.
The source of the drive to stuff ourselves with food is to numb ourselves and block, deny or control the feelings we fear would destroy us if we felt them. As we follow the thread of the compulsion into the dark and painful places we find the spring from which the energy flows. It is that energy, when blocked, repressed or denied that is the source of the compulsion to overeat. When we deny our feelings that energy hits the barrier of denial and finds another route to the surface. It is diverted and converted to another form that demands our attention. The more we ignore the signs, the stronger the demand for attention becomes. When we are able to break the code of our own personal Rosetta Stone we begin to understand our suffering and pain. When we feel and share what we have discovered the compulsive energy is transformed into emotion and release. This is the path we follow on the journey toward wholeness, the journey toward freedom from compulsive eating and weight obsession.
Dealing with repressed and suppressed feelings is the most important part of this healing journey.