Recognizing a healing resource is part of achieving and sustaining recovery. More, it's part of celebrating and nourishing your life. Articles and discussions here guide you to the many forms a healing resource can take. This includes: animals, wilderness areas, recovery books, class experiences, affirmations, tips to help you tolerate and grow through strong emotional experience, workbooks exercises, private time, treatment programs and more.

Eating Disorder Healing Mentor: Winston Churchill

Periodically I am asked about influences in my life from mentors. I've been thinking, until just this minute, about living mentors I been gifted with in my life.  But I also have powerful mentors I've never known.  One of the best is Winston Churchill. Yes, Winston Churchill helps me in eating disorder recovery.

Recovery: Coming to Life in a Living World

elephant rock Sedona Arizona-27527-3
You are a living force that strives to heal and prosper in a living world. Awakening to this knowledge puts you on your eating disorder recovery path, no matter your age or the severity of your illness.  Once you are aware, healing resources abound.
I watched the documentary, Sedona: The Spirit of Wonder last night.  I was attracted to film because I visited Sedona five years ago and was fortunate to have a private jeep tour - just the driver and me.  Anytime I felt attracted to a place we would aim for the spot and stop there.

I stood in silence - human and jeep silence - so I could hear the sounds of the land and feel what was there for me to feel.  I climbed rocks, found ancient carvings and drawings, visited ruins of dwellings in the majestic red rocks.  I marveled at golden flowers of riotous blooming cactus.  Sedona found tiny openings in my heart and my imagination, infiltrated my soul and expanded me in ways I'm still learning about.

I hoped the film would reignite my personal experiences.  It did and more.  Personally, I found the narrative weak, slanted and uninspiring. But the power of the land comes through despite the narrative flaws.  Much of the film is a slow aerial tour through the fantastic rock formations that may touch your heart as they did mine.  They may even inspire you to visit or start reading Tony Hillerman novels.

Looking at the vistas as they appeared before my eyes I realized I was both flying above the land and swimming under a deep and forgotten ocean.  What I was seeing was the bottom of an ancient sea.  I could imagine coyotes, bears and mountain lion amid the pines and deer trails. I could also imagine prehistoric sea creatures and perhaps coming mammals gliding through the hollows and narrows of the rock peaks.

Mind, heart, soul, imagination expansions like this can dislodge your rigid eating disorder routines. Even a glimpse of a wider and awesome world can create a permanent opening to more appreciation of your own life and the scope and span of life on this planet. That opening can be a birthing place for your recovery.

The film ended with a Native American quote that transcended all the mundane modern narration preceding.

If we look at the path, we do not see the sky. 
We are earth people
on a spiritual journey to the stars.

Our quest, our earth walk,
is to look within,
to know who we are,
to see that we are connected to all things.
There is no separation, only in the mind.
......source unknown

So, in the spirit and mood of the teachings from Sedona, I wish that as you progress on your earth walk you experience a growing awareness of life.  I wish for you an integration of mind, body and spirit that will break up the limitations of eating disorder perceptions.  I wish for you the particular joys and freedom that can only be found in real recovery.

*Elephant Rock (right) and Munds Mountain (left) as seen looking south from SR 179 in Sedona, Arizona
photo by Ken Thomas

Get Those ZZZZ's for Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating Disorders and Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is often an aspect of an eating disorder.  You don't want to lose consciousness. You don't want that vulnerable feeling of going into a dim twilight state that takes you into dark sleep.  It feels too much like the beginning of an anxious or terror experience.

So you delay going to bed. You watch TV or DVD and fall asleep on the couch.  The sounds of the player, the voices especially,

Eating Disorders and Striving for Perfection

Japanese butterfly 320px Peablue October 2007 Osaka Japan

Perfection as Safety

In early recovery work I see my clients struggle with their perfection issues. Regardless of the particular disorder (bulimia, anorexia, compulsive overeating or binge eating) the desire for perfection is usually present.

When a person is anxious and frightened at such a deep level that she needs an ever present eating disorder to soothe, numb and distract herself from her suffering, perfection can be perceived as the ultimate place of safety.

It may be natural to want to improve yourself, to be good or wonderful or the very best you can possibly be. But seeking perfection is an exhausting way of life that can blind you to opportunities for joy and satisfaction.

How Perfection Relates To Eating Disorders

Perfection is a state where criticism is impossible. Whatever is perfect is flawless. Perfection is better than the best.

The best is a comparison with lesser quality. But the best apple in the basket could still have flaws. If you are the best with underlying insecurities, your position is not stable or secure. Feeling you are better than everyone else and even having awards to prove it, may seem to be a safe position. Yet you are still anxious and driven to seek perfection. If superiority were the goal, achieving that goal is temporary. Someone could become your equal or surpass you at any time. You still have flaws that someone else could better.

Striving for perfection and believing perfection is attainable is not necessarily a competition. You aren't looking to be better than everyone else. Your goal is not to be superior. Your goal is to be perfect. Others can be perfect too. I think that's why pro ana people support each other's starvation. They are not in competition with each other. They are all striving to reach the mythical state of perfection. Then not only will others not judge you or find fault with you. You will stop the critical voice in your own head.

When you reach the state of perfection you will be safe. Nothing can hurt you. You can rest and simply be perfect. You have no fears or concerns about flaws, vulnerabilities, weaknesses or judgments from others or yourself.

But no one can reach that place. Perfection is not attainable. And that means ultimate and perfect safety is not attainable. It also means that striving for perfection leaves you feeling sad, defeated, frightened and desperate.

Genuine safety comes from health, internal sturdiness and wisdom. To attain that the you have to gradually give up your eating disorder and move into real recovery.

This takes a lot of courage. To give up striving for perfection may feel like you are surrendering to imminent catastrophe.

Yet, over time, it's a relief to give up the pursuit of perfection and be your own wonderful and imperfect self. It is then that you are capable of having rich relationships with other imperfect and wonderful people. It is then you can build a happy and satisfying life.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, Los Angeles eating disorder recovery psychotherapist 

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