Ecopsychology Metaphors: Guide to Eating Disorder Recovery
- Category: Ecopsychology
True Story of Personal Growth Inspiration through a Relationship with Two Pomegranate Trees
A woman has two pomegranate trees. She planted them in her garden many years ago. She watched them grow from tiny saplings. After four years they gave her a few pomegranates. The following three years they each gave her about 20 large red pomegranates.
As the trees continued to grow they produced more but increasingly smaller fruit. The branches grew thin with many frail sub branches.
One winter morning she set out to take drastic action. With a tall branch clipper, she spent hours cutting off thin branches and stabilizing herself so she could cut slice off major branches six feet above her head.
She got tired. She felt dizzy. The skin on the back of her hands hurt from branch scratches.
She pushed her body to do more trimming as the trees grew shorter and thinner. Against her intentions she quit work to rest and hydrate herselfEvery few hours she went back to the job. She cut heavy branches the next day, again needing breaks because her shoulders ached and she felt light headed.
This effort was not mere gardening. Her body and spirit were united in an action. She fully intended to prune until the trees were a shape that satisfied her own inner sense of what was right. She wanted them to grow strong in the Spring, leaf out, flower and give large and robust fruit.
Let’s follow the metaphor with her. It comes from her unconscious.
The tree is her life energy. She wants to be fruitful. She chooses a fruit that is delicious, beautiful and has a rich history of meaning. She tends the trees and delights in the blossoming as she does her own healing work and appreciates her recovery.
But caring for her trees and her life energy requires more than the basics of food, sun and water. The trees are not living up to their potential and neither is she. Fruit is forthcoming but decreases in value every year.
She asks herself, “What’s wrong?” Are the trees too old or too weak? Is the energy within the trees decreasing? As the trees stretch every which way to grow toward the sun they continue to fail.
Her thoughts go no further. She is oblivious to how these questions may relate to her. But her sense is strong that the trees need to be cut back and shaped.
During her rest from the effort she wonders about what she is doing and why she is doing it with such zeal.
Am I stretching every which way with no plan or focus? Am I too old or too weak for a joyous abundant life? Do I need to center myself so I can use my energy to grow strong and sure?
Those questions eased her mind and spirit. She knew what she needed and how to help herself. Like the pomegranate trees, she needs to cut away useless efforts, focus on the core of her life energy, prepare herself for coming growth with centered roots and powerful arms that can bear the fruit that is coming.
The details of the metaphor continue. She has work ahead in picking up and clearing all the refuse from the trimming. Those branches and twigs need to be recycled and composted so their energy is not lost and not wasted.
Her standing trees need some shock treatment after their drastic changes.
They need time to rest before Spring surges sap through their veins, readying them for new challenges in a changing world.
Caring for herself with the understanding she gives her trees she recognizes her fatigue as natural. She is kind to herself as she goes through her own shock after discarding what is no longer relevant or nourishing in her life. She rests knowing new energy will surge through her as she faces certain coming but unknown challenges.
Joanna Poppink is a private practice psychotherapist in Los Angeles specializing in eating disorder recovery for adult women.
For detailed information please see: Psychotherapy with Joanna
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