Awareness: Your Threat or Ally?


-Lightning3Awareness, necessary for eating disorder recovery, comes in countless and unpredictable forms. 

When we are not aware we do not have the awareness of what we are missing.  Awareness rises from a dark night gently through a slow dawn.  Or it arrives during a dark storm with the crackling blast of a lightning bolt.


An eating disorder, with all its many symptoms, blocks awareness and keeps you in a limited and painful life.  But you don't know how limited or how painful your life is because you don't have the awareness of life beyond your eating disorder.

The people you see who seem to be living free, making positive life choices you cannot, stepping forward into the hurly burly of living while you remain isolated, moving among others comfortably regardless of their shape and size, speaking up for what they believe and taking the consequences seem like strangers, even aliens.

You either don't know them or recognize them or you do see them and feel they are living in a day to day world that has nothing to do with your existence.

When awareness comes it's not an additional viewpoint you add to your existing way of being in the world.  Awareness turns your perspective around or inside out or deepens it or whisks you to a new way of seeing altogether.

Awareness is dangerous to the status quo.  If an eating disordered way of life is your status quo, then your eating disorder ways will fight off awareness.  Awareness is a great threat to your disorder.

If you know that, then wouldn't it make sense to welcome what threatens the way you live your life if your life is governed by your eating disorder?

  1. What's in your life now that threatens you?
  2. What would be required of you to meet this threat?
  3. How would taking that action affect your eating disorder symptoms?
  4. Is the action worth taking?
  5. In other words, will you accept the challenge to your eating disordered way of thinking, feeling and living?
  6. If you will accept your challenge then what is your first step?


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0 # Interesting topic Joanna! I have beenshh 2012-07-16 04:00
Interesting topic Joanna!

I have been struggling a lot recently with a new awareness that I am a bit directionless in life and not as independent as I would like to be, and I just can't fathom out a way of getting to where I want to be. I am ashamed of where I am now, and with that shame comes the natural urge to revert back to ED habits.

I mentioned it in therapy a few weeks ago, and my therapist suggested that maybe I eased off worrying so much about my lack of direction, and just slowed down to appreciate that I am enjoying aspects of my life that are new or revisited after a long absence, and to savour those things that bring me pleasure...but the inadequacy and need to try to find a way to resolve things still niggles away at me, still keeps me bordering on ED habits, which in turn brings more shame and feelings of inadequacy.

But today I became aware of something new, a new way of looking at my situation... that maybe the reason I feel like I don't really know who I am, and can't seem to find a direction to head in, is because I was never allowed to develop that self, the one who knows who she is and what she like sand dislikes, and what inspires her, and what she enjoys and so childhood was so controlled, and as an adult I have kind of sought out controlling relationships to give me direction..and now I am finally allowed to find out for myself who I am, nothing is off limits, it's all mine to explore, and experiemnt with..

..and I get it now, maybe that is what my therapist meant by just apprecating the things that I am finding myself enjoying doing, and worrying less about long term plans and direction.
0 # My biggest fear, not so much a threat, iPTC 2012-07-16 07:31
My biggest fear, not so much a threat, is that I won't find a husband, won't get married, won't have kids, and won't have the life that I want.

As far as the ED goes, gaining weight threatens me. I don't want to do it, I'm not trying to do it, and I don't think I will try. Food is a threat. Not having enough time to workout is a problem. Trips become a threat because I don't know how I'll work out. Actually, none of this is really answering your questions so I'll stop here and won't continue on with the other questions.
0 # Dear PTC, Maybe you are more near thepinkjoanna 2012-07-16 11:28
Dear PTC,

Maybe you are more near the awareness threat than you can appreciate.

A woman living a rich and happy life with her husband and children needs to invest a tremendous amount of caring, courage, time and energy into her family and her own well being.

Your eating disorder ways would suffer. You would have to be more in your life with your family than in your life with your eating disorder.

Maybe you didn't know that this was a tradeoff you've been making. Eating disorders can cost you your dreams.
0 # Dear Shh, Lots of ways to go in termspinkjoanna 2012-07-16 11:33
Dear Shh,

Lots of ways to go in terms of direction. If you stand still, grounded in the now of where you are, after a while your next step reveals itself.

Then there's the Dr. Doolittle way. Put a pin in a map at random and rally your energy and resources to get there.

To choose a direction that is right for you, you need to honor your heart. If your heartfelt feelings are cluttered with fears, eating disorder thinking, postponed tasks and people pleasing obligations you need to clear yourself so you can get to you.

Oh yes, and you'll probably need some courage to take action on the direction that reveals itself. :-)
0 # I agree that the ED can compromise yourPTC 2012-07-16 14:17
I agree that the ED can compromise your dreams, but I am putting myself out there, trying to meet guys. I'm sure if I was in a relationship either the relationship would suffer because of the ED, or the ED would suffer because of the relationship, not sure which would happen. I feel like, for the most party, I live my life the same as I would if I didn't have an ED. Obviously there are somethings that would be different, like food choices, or choosing exercise over something else, but I feel like I live a pretty full life.

My biggest crossroad right now is trying to figure out if I want to change or if I want to stay where I am. When I make that decision, then we'll see how hard things are...if I choose to get better. Then we hit the "can I really do this on my own" question. Everything is so complicated.
0 # romantic relationships scare me. I becommylifex2 2012-07-16 18:41
romantic relationships scare me. I become panicked when dating because I feel that the only thing the guy is thinking about, is how fast he can get me in bed. I hate feeling this way. I usually bail out after a few dates. I feel it is expected of me to have sex. So I feel that the guy will think i am crazy or weird or "have a problem" if I don't. Well, I do "have a problem"'s called my grandfather raped me repeatedly for years. I hate men for this. I question thier motives, I question thier sincerity..I don't think anyone could love me just for me. I get so discouraged by seeing the ease at which my friends fall into relationships. I don't know if I will ever resolve this. I am trying to work on it in therapy, but I keep zoning out. It is just too painful. working thru this issue would leave me so vulnerable. I think it would make my ED worse, atleast in the beginning.
0 # Oh Tracy, I wish I could transfer my feeshh 2012-07-17 01:14
Oh Tracy, I wish I could transfer my feelings and reaction to your comments, over to you! I wish I could give you the confidence - not even the confidence to tackle things in tharapy (although, of course I wish I could give you that too)...but the confidence to say "I want to take things slowly, friends first, anything else will be much further down the line" and to believe that setting that boundary and upholding it, is indeed perfectly acceptable, and that any man who has issues with that is not worthy of a second thought as he would never be the right man for you. There are men out there who would respect that, even prefer things that way!
0 # Joanna I am aware that at the momentshh 2012-07-17 01:56

I am aware that at the moment my life is full of "endings" - I severed my relationship with my mother, who has now put her home up for sale (and I am so eager for it to be sold and for her to move on, so that there is no chance of her trying to find a way back into my life). My two closest friends are both moving away, both for finacial reasons, we will stay in touch but I won't see them with the frequency that I do now. My youngest is finishing at kindergarten ready to begin full-time school in September - which is a bit of a wrench, as I have been going there with at least one of the girls every weekday for the last 9 years, and I have lots of friends and feel comfortable there. My youngest starting full-time school also means that I am free during the daytimes to pursue something..some kind of career would be good, but I would still like to be around for the girls as much as possible. And my therapy is also coming to an end too - I will be terminating shortly after my little one goes to school in the fall... all these endings, it's an emotional time, but a time that makes room for new beginnings to happen.

I have the space in my life for this new direction, and I know roughly what the constraints are...I just don't really know what to do with it yet!
0 # shh, I have not met a man like that yetmylifex2 2012-07-17 06:17
I have not met a man like that yet....which makes me sad and hopeless that they exist. I don't think men are wired any other way. I know that sounds so negative, but it's truly the experience that I have had. I feel really low about this when I think about it. Usually if I can just move on and accept that my life will be better alone, and busy myself with other things in life, I am ok. My biggest problem is feeling that people look at me funny if I am not dating someone or married, as if to be thinking...whats wrong with her? Then I start thinking I should be skinnier or prettier. then everything goes south. Sorry I am being so negative, having a rough day...and I shouldn't have started this conversation or added to this post because I am in a very negative place right now, and this just brought me down further.
0 # How's this for a thought? If you bepinkjoanna 2012-07-17 16:44
How's this for a thought?

If you believe all a man wants is your sexuality then you are thinking and feeling a lot about your sexuality. You may be angry in advance and shut down many aspects of your personality. If you shut down too much then all that is left is your anger and your thinking about sexuality.

Your anger may push him away. Your absorption in sexual thinking may put out a powerful sexual vibe without much of your personality or feelings involved in making genuine connection.

If this is near the truth then the man see two limited options: take punishment from an angry woman or have sex with a woman who only offers a sexual connection and remains aloof regarding emotional connection.

What do you think? Possible?

0 # I will take this in pieces. I do think amylifex2 2012-07-17 18:28
I will take this in pieces. I do think a lot about my sexuality. I do shut down. In fact, I wear a diamond on my left ring finger so that men don't approach me to begin with. It's my sheild.

I do tend to flirt a lot. I know. I know. You're thinking, but....
See, I enjoy getting the attention, but only on a surface level. I am a master at flirting just enough to get the attention I need, without the committment of anything more. I think I do send out powerful sexual vibes without investing genuine connections.

I don't think the man gets either option because I don't allow the relationship to get to that point.

Like I said, I don't trust that men really have any compassion beyond what is on a surface level.

I don't know how to fix this. I don't want to live this way. I want to believe that someone could actually love me for me.
0 # I could write forever on this topic! IKymL 2012-07-17 18:53
I could write forever on this topic! I joined SIA (Survivors of Incest Annonymous) a little over a year ago and realized that I had two major self distructive behaviors that stemmed from my childhood sex abuse: ED and avoiding intimacy. My reaction to the idea of being inimate was petty severe. Through lots of work I'm actually starting to see progress in the area of initmacy. A year ago I thought I could never get through this one! But I keep reminding myself that I have made it through the worse of the ED and I've proved that I am a strong and capable woman. One thing that has helped me a lot lately is that I stopped listing all the things I SHOULD be able to do with my partner, or how I SHOULD react to certain stimuli. I'm tuning to my body instead and following what it tells me I want (OMG admitting I wanted to be touched was a big one!!!), what I can handle that day and what I know I can't handle right now. It's hard to admit that I'm human who needs to eat and who needs to be close to people! My past religion made saints out of people who deprived themself of those two things and my goal as a child was to be one of those saints. But I'm slowing accepting my human-ness and trusting that my higher power gave me these desires and made inimacy fun for a we can be happy.

I'm not totally there yet but my partner is noticing a difference in me. I've asked her not to talk about it because the idea of me becoming a "different person" or "sexually normal" scares the crap out of me......but I'm OK with "trying out" what my body says I should try; hope that makes sense.

I wish you the best Tracy! I know the road you're travel well :-)

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