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Sex, Stalking and Exploitation Chapter 12 Excerpt

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“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can’t see how it is.”
--Ram Dass

The topic of sexuality is near the end of this book because, if you have been working the exercises in previous chapters, by now you are more equipped to look at this highly charged issue.  I invite you to look at your sexual life through the lens of eating disorder recovery work. My intention is not to discuss sexual addiction, orgasmic dysfunction, or morality but rather to introduce a subject that is not discussed fully and openly as it relates to people with eating disorders. What I know from my own personal experience and hear in my practice is this:  The lived sexual experiences of women with eating disorders are acutely troublesome and remain largely unspoken in public discourse and consulting rooms. They are characterized by many of the experiences described in the following list.  Some of them may be familiar to you.

Please do your breathing exercises and look at this list without judgment.  Follow the principles we looked at in Chapter 9, “Spiritual Depth.”

•    Become aroused during foreplay but lose all sexual desire at penetration.

•    Enjoy cuddling and simple foreplay but get frightened or numb when your partner’s sexual energy becomes more intense.

•    Become aroused by receiving or inflicting pain and humiliation.

•    Have been harassed by a stalker.

•    Have been a stalker in varying degrees in person or by phone.

•    Have multiple affairs with married men, men in power, and men unavailable for committed relationship because of addictions or secrets.

•    Have been faithful, loyal, and deferential to a man you thought was committed but who had a secret sexual life.

•    Felt special while knowingly having sexual relations with a man who had many lovers yet you believed you were his favorite and that eventually you would be together.

•    Have fled to bars looking for attention, flattery, and sex.

•    Have repeatedly been disappointed when a brief encounter did not mean the beginning of a relationship.


If one or more of these experiences are part of your history or current life, looking at them can open emotionally loaded secrets.  Please do not go into harsh judgment of yourself.  Stay present, and look, perhaps for the first time, not at should or should nots, but simply at what is.

If you have different items to add to this list, please do so.  Anything about your sexual life that brings up shame, guilt, thrills, or disappointments belongs on this list.


Excerpt from Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, by Joanna Poppink, MFT, Conari Press, 2011. Copyright protected August, 2011. Media Kit  https://healingyourhungryheart.com






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