Awareness: Your Threat or Ally?
- Category: Self-Help
Awareness, 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?
- What's in your life now that threatens you?
- What would be required of you to meet this threat?
- How would taking that action affect your eating disorder symptoms?
- Is the action worth taking?
- In other words, will you accept the challenge to your eating disordered way of thinking, feeling and living?
- If you will accept your challenge then what is your first step?
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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 on...my 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
...so 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!
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.
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?
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.
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