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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.

 joanna@poppink.com

 

Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.

 

Modena ambulancePost inspired by Tracy's letter in comments.

When you push yourself to the breaking point to meet demands on your time and energy it’s time to both step back and step forward in new ways. The alternative is to collapse, an unacceptable outcome.
(pix*)
To restructure your situation you first need to make an assessment.  If you are pushing yourself to tend to others’ needs based on their need rather than your realistic abilities you are in a negative system than will ruin your health, finances, relationships, state of mind and general well being.  In other words, you will use yourself up. No eating disorder behaviors will release you from these consequences.

Think of an emergency room at a hospital.  An ambulance pulls up carrying a patient with a crushed chest, broken legs, punctured lung and bleeding abdomen.  She was in an automobile accident.

More than one person got her out of the tangle of steel and glass on the road.  More than one got her into the ambulance. More than one got her out of the ambulance and into the hospital.

Then a team of emergency room technicians, doctors and nurses wheel her to a treatment area, tend her and chatter on the communication lines to assemble needed specialists.  Perhaps they are on site.  Perhaps cars and planes are mobilized to bring the needed expertise to the patient ASAP.

Plus, all the while, nurses, doctors, maintenance people and hospital staff tend to the needs of the hospital as a whole to keep the organization functioning.

The needs of this patient are being addressed, but not by one person or even two or three.  Her needs would overwhelm their resources, abilities and stamina.

Now look at your situation with the emergency example in mind.  Is a team needed to do what you are attempting to do? Are you basing your decisions and your giving activities on needs of others that will overwhelm your life and all that is dear to you?  Are your caretaking activities causing your children to suffer, your job to falter, your own health to deteriorate?

If your answer is yes to any of the options then you need to step back. Do what you can, but only what you can. This may mean making some hard choices.  But you are making hard choices now as the consequences of your sacrifice become clearer to you. Others may step in to pick up what you are not doing. They may not. Or they may step in only when they are convinced that you will not, cannot keep up the caretaking pace you have set for yourself.

You need to tend to your own home, your own children, your own health, your own finances, your own state of mind.  You can give your extras if you wish, but not your essentials.

You are not being cruel or selfish. You are being realistic. You cannot give more than you can give.  If you try you and the life you care about will collapse. You must live within your own skin.  Step back from what drains you and step forward into living your own life well. The main emergency may be yours.

More to come on stepping forward.

*pix An ambulance and its crew in Modena, Italy.  Lots of trained people to handle an emergency here.  One person alone can't do the job.


  1. How does this self sacrificial thinking apply to you?
  2. What criticisms do you give yourself to keep you sacrificing?
  3. How do you justify giving to others when your own needs are unmet?
  4. Who and what are suffering because of your giving to others?
  5. What are the first steps to take to extricate yourself from this negative system?

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