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"Boundaries: A Challenge in Early Recovery" Chapter 5 Excerpt

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“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly.”
--Aristotle

…..”Please,” she says. “It will only take a minute.”  In that request Elsa is asking the employee to let her cross his time boundary.  She says, “This is a special circumstance. It’s for my special project – just one time.” She is asking him to make her concerns and her time more important than his.

 

 

Elsa, like many people who don’t recognize boundaries, has a sense of entitlement.  She thinks to herself and sometimes actually says, “But this is me. It’s okay because it’s me.  I need more than you do. I’ll use it better than you will.” Unauthorized boundary crossing hurt relationships, marriages, businesses, and international peace.  They cause lawsuits, criminal proceedings, divorce, and job loss.  They also contribute to keeping your eating disorder powerful and tenacious.

Disregarding boundaries is not a fundamental aspect of your personality.  It is a developmental issue. Elsa’s eating disorder kept her from developing respect for how boundaries create safety and make relationships possible.  She will override a boundary she doesn’t see because she is trying to get what she needs, in the same way that she will eat more than her body can tolerate because she needs the food to quell her anxiety.

If you binge, you must go full speed ahead, filling yourself up with food or merchandise or activity.  You try to endlessly fill yourself so you have no room for a thought or insight that might disturb your protective system and illusion of safety.

If you suffer from anorexia, you do the same thing in reverse.  Your restriction is endless. You don’t eat enough nourishment to sustain a healthy body. You live a life that is noticeable by its sparseness.  You allow yourself less than the minimum in safety, intimate relationships, and self care.  Using a lowercase “I” to identify yourself feels right to you. On occasion you become frantic and plead or demand help from others only to refuse help that’s offered.

When you don’t recognize the natural limits of your body, you can wind up in the hospital after starving too thoroughly and then bingeing out of control. Your body can’t handle the extremes.  You spontaneously throw up food and blood and pass out.  Your own body and gravity stops you.  When you can’t set and honor boundaries, you are at the mercy of natural limits you can’t control. At the tragic extremes endlessly losing or gaining weight ends with death.

Healing Your Hungry Heart, by Joanna Poppink, MFT, Conari Press, 2011. Copyright protected August, 2011. Joanna is a Los Angeles psychotherapist specializing in eating disorder recovery for adults and counseling for their loved ones. For an appointment call:  (310) 474-4165.

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