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


Truth246px-Truth La Vérité 1870 by Jules Lefebvre*La Vérité - Liars don't like to be exposed.

Let's look at the conditioning that makes you vulnerable to lies and learn to uphold your authentic reality.
When you grow up with lies around you, you learn how to adapt to that environment. Freeing yourself old survival conditioning spurs your recovery and gives you a chance to have a more fulfilling life.

In your beginning, as a naive and trusting child, you believe lies. As you get older you begin to suspect that something might be a lie. On the basis of that suspicion you challenge the lie.

When you expose the lie you are met with the consequences such as:
  1. "I was just kidding."
  2. "Be quiet." 
  3. A glare
  4. A threat
  5. A slap

Or a  command:
  1. Don't be rude to your .....
  2. Don't question me .....
  3. Don't give me any of your ......
  4. Never do that in public ....
  5. Don't be stupid. That's not what I said (or that's not what happened).

Then you have to learn how to cope with the response you get if and when you challenge a lie.

You say:

"But it's true....
  • "How can you say that .....
  • You may appeal to someone you who knows the truth.
  • "X, you were there.....
  • "X, you know that....

When X denies you and supports the lie you are baffled and bewildered. You may start to feel that you've lost your place in the world and physically lose your balance. You will feel terribly alone and vulnerable. You may be angry and self righteous. You may try to argue. You may ask for an explanation. You can have severe doubts about yourself and your ability to perceive reality.

It's difficult for a liar to say, "Ï am lying. Just be quiet about it." Yet that is the message a liar seeks to get across.

You may continue to fight and argue until forces more powerful than you subdue your voice.

Now what? Lying continues and you know it.

Your stomach may churn when you hear a lie. You are on the alert for the unexpected and . You feel your muscles stiffen and your eyes freeze. You don't blink.

Where you are and what you've been doing, thinking, believing, enjoying is suddenly ripped from you by this lie you have to not hear, not acknowledge and not know about.

You may try to escape this inescapable emotional position. You need to stay and you need to get away from these feelings. So you search for ways to block your awareness.  One way is to reach for food. Eating can fill you up, block your feelings, distract you and may block your awareness.

If that happens you can ignore the lie by going into your eating and mind numbing mode.
This can build so that if you hear something that a person in your life wants to keep secret from someone else or says something that is a lie you immediately go into a mindless, distracted place in your psyche. You don't necessarily need to eat to achieve this state.  Your eating comes in when your mindless and distracted state needs reinforcement.  

You are now in training for being non responsive to lies. You learn to not hear them. You learn to believe what you are expected to believe and deny your mind, heart and physical senses. 

You need your eating disorder to help you do this, and your eating disorder obliges.

Coming out from this dense cloud of oblivion requires courage and is painful. It is painful to remove the veil between you and others and see and hear what is really going on. It requires courage because you remember being punished for being present and aware in the past.

Living in the cloud of lies you are awake without being a awake. You hear without hearing. You know what's happening, but from a disjointed place, as if you were in another room, surrounded by sound proof glass. You can see and be seen, and you know the other person believes that you are oblivious.

You won't say anything about what you've heard. The other person most likely thinks and counts on your not being able to register what was said or done and that you will continue to behave as if nothing had happened.

More than that, the other person will expect you to live in the world of lies, believing what you are supposed to believe, never doubting the validity of the lie/s.

At the same time you may receive benefits from going along with the lies. Certainly one immediate benefit is not being punished for being aware. Other benefits have more to do with your living in a fantasy of what you want to be true. Your psyche learns to divide up your perceptions so you deny the lies and accept the positive picture the lie paints.

Think of the old story that used to come up in books and movies about gangsters. The gangster is in court on the witness stand.

Question: "Where did you get the money you used to buy the Porsche, the diamond necklace for your girlfriend and the apartment in the Bahamas?"

Answer: Ï won it at the track, Your Honor."" He smiles. " I'm a lucky guy."

If you're the girlfriend you may know the truth. But you may have been trained to deny information in front of you, convince yourself he's telling the truth because to accuse him of lying would bring dire consequences. Plus, you like wearing the necklace, driving the Porsche and visiting the Bahamas. You like the lifestyle you have convinced yourself you are living.

But, your denial has to go beyond the lie in the courtroom. You also have to go numb, mindless, and move into your glass container with help from your eating disorder so you are blank about the need for body guards, hushed conversations, jokes about people who have disappeared, the presence of guns, no one seeming to have a real job and how all purchases are made with cash. You have to deny the reality of the harsh treatment you experience from the people around you regardless of how pretty your diamond necklace may be. It's really a choke collar.

To come out of the fantasy, ask yourself these discovery questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I think and feel?
  3. What is really going on around me?
  4. Why am I here living this life?
  5. Is this the life I want to live?
  6. Am I living the life I believe I am living?
  7. Are the people around me who I believe and think they are?
  8. Am I believing stories and promises I wish were true?
  9. Is the life I am  living anywhere near the life of my deepest desires?
  10. Do I even know my deepest desires?

Recovery from an eating disorder involves getting to the truth of your existence. And the most important question is:

Am I ready to take on my world as it is with all that I am?

If your answer is yes, then you are on your way to growing a new kind of internal strength and dropping your need for your eating disorder. You are also on the way to creating a meaningful and fulfilling life.

  1. How does the conditioning for accepting lies relate to your life?
  2. How do you answer the discovery questions? Which relate to you most?
  3. If you are going to drop the veil and take on reality, what's your immediate challenge?

Artist: Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836–1911)
Title: Truth (La Vérité)
Date 1870
Photographer: Ron Rothbart

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.


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