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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.


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

I have been struggling with aforementioned project of making my living area something that feels like it is truly mine...it all seemed so easy, but then it became so complicated!

I started questioning whether other rooms/areas of the house are more deserving of my money and attention, I struggled to find the furnishings I wanted at a price I could afford, I doubted my vision of what it should be like.

I realised yesterday that it was partly about getting rid of really good quality furniture and replacing it with lesser quality stuff - what if it all falls apart in a year or two? what if I regret it and wish I'd kept my quality furnishings? I also realised that at the time those items were purchased my life was in a different place, we could afford to go to a decent quality furnishing store and buy from their top end, now I can barely afford to go to the 'run of the mill' stores, and in those stores I have to be careful what I choose to make sure I can afford it. What it made me see that was that letting those decent quality items go and replacing them with very lower quality things, meant that I have to fully accept where my life is at, where I have ended up, what I've become as a result of ending up living on my own with my girls. But it also reminded me to 'live in the moment' a bit more - the stuff I buy now might only last 4 years, not 10 years, but it's what I need in my life "now", in 4 years time I might be in a different place, needing different things, and quite happy to replace them to fit in with who I've become in that time.

The most interesting thing though was thinking about the significance of the things I'm reluctant to part with - that great, big, chunky solid oak dining table, I bought it over 10 years ago, my first child had just turned one, and I was really struggling with some type of PTSD & depression, relating to my daughter's health problems (difficult to explain succinctly, but pretty harsh), and the 2 things I associate with it, are a sturdiness, stability, something 'rock solid' to depend upon - which a) I needed in my life as I was literally falling apart and b) it was the thing I'd spent the last year trying to be - unwaveringly strong and dependable (which was partly why I'd ended up in such a mess),and also a sense of "family" - which at that point I was just starting to believe we might be - after 11 months of being warned she could die, she might have CP, she could have developmental delays and the strain it put on our marriage, there was finally hope of being a normal healthy-ish family - and it has lived up to that role of being at the centre of the family, for meal times, for doing arts & crafts upon, for doing homework, for parties & celebrations, and it still is at the heart of family life....although a new table could be too.

But going back to the strong, sturdy, reliable element - and that being something I really needed in my life at that time and also the thing that I needed to be in life too - I feel a bit like that table is a representation of my ED, my ED was strong and reliable, it was always around, always there to support me and it enabled me to be that solid, strong reliable person that I needed to be, to be physically large and grounded and always there for people, and keep my emotions in check, and stay calm. Being scared to get rid of that table, especially because of my relapse, is like getting rid of my safety net. And so what I realise is that as long as my new table still provides that sense of "family", that I need to get rid of that big oak table, that chapter of my life is passed, I now live knowing I have the support of good friends that I am able to reach out to when necessary, and that I don't need my ED behaviours anymore.

The other interesting piece, is my big bookcase, I bought this about 18 months ago, to accommodate all my uni stuff and a growing collection of books that I wanted to keep rather than pass on, and in many ways it was my degree course and my professional training course that fuelled the purchase... and what I have learned about myself is that whenever I feel like my life is at a crisis point, I go running back to education - a professional course & a college course when my daughter was ill, a post-grad course after I was raped and lost my job, this degree and as a result of starting and really struggling with ED therapy and my marriage being on the rocks.... it harks back to using my teachers as substitute mothers and feeling that school was fair and predictable (unlike home)... so when I really need that mother figure to hug me, tell me I'm coping okay, and that everything will turn out fine in the end, I run to education. Interestingly I got that bookcase at the point when I had cut contact with my mother and my husband had decided he wanted to become a woman - and I insisted it went in the living area, not the study, I'm guessing because I needed that presence of a mother-figure to be around for me at such a difficult time.

And what I've realised is that it is something really useful and of value for me, to have that mother-figure bookcase around for when I need that influence in my life, but I no longer need it to take such a prominent role, and so it makes sense to move this piece into the study.

It's been such an eye-opener for me to make these associations, so now hopefully I can get on with creating a space that feels right for where I am at this present moment in time!


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