An inspiring question that often helps a woman awaken to her eating disorder healing path is this:
"If I used all the time, energy, skills, planning and strategy skills, intellectual and emotional involvement I devote to my eating disorder for something else, what could I do in life?"
This is often a staggering question. You may be shocked at the answer that occurs to you.
I've heard women respond, usually in a low murmuring voice with a hand over their mouths so I can barely hear. They say:
"I could run five fortune 500 companies."
"I could make a wonderful impact on the whole world." "
I could go back to school and finish my PhD." or law degree, or medical degree etc.).
"I could get out of this horrible relationship and support myself and my children."
"I could write my book....make my film.....design my clothes.....start and run my business..... create a school....."
"I could be free to find out what I really could do."
You get the idea. Vast options suddenly open to you if you've been living a limited life controlled by all that an eating disorder involves. And maybe those possibilities are real. Bulimia, anorexia, compulsive eating and overeating, binge eating, and purging take up a vast amount of physical, emotional and intellectual resources
When you genuinely look at everything you do, think, feel and say in a day that involves your eating disorder and then think about what you could do what that energy and those skills if you were free you get a glimpse of a new world. You know you could have useful and meaningful power and live a life of more joy in the world if you were free.
You don't know yet what you would do or how, but your response to the question is a moment of an emotional and physical sensation of freedom. You get a sense of what might be possible if all your resources were channeled toward something that makes your life worth living.
Sometimes women ask that question of themselves, and their revelation leads them to psychotherapy. Sometimes women need to be asked.
When I bring that question to women with an eating disorder I see faces change. Eyes fill with tears. Voices quaver, so afraid to speak what seems too good to be true A feeling of bewilderment and hope permeates the room. This momentous shift in awareness and sense of possibility always touches my heart. It's a long road between that moment and full recovery, but that moment of awakening is the start of a deep and rich healing journey.
Requirements to sustain an eating disorder:
- 1. intelligence
2. ability to plan ahead
3. ability to make strategic changes in the moment
7. organizational ability
9. resources to get what you need for a binge
10. acting skills
11. ability to influence and persuade others
14. strategizing skills
You use all these resources to maintain your eating disorder. How can you use these qualities to enhance your life?