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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 was born six weeks premature. I lived in an incubator for the first seven weeks of my life. My birth mother  was forty-six years old when I was born. I was her last child and I was a secret. She had an affair. My impending arrival allowed her to leave her abusive marriage and start a new life.

I met my birth mother one month before she died. I showed up at her door unannounced. She offered little information regarding my conception or family of origin.  I didn't push her because she she seemed small and guarded. She was a little old woman in a light blue cardigan who occasionally forgot that she was keeping secrets while talking with me. She's been gone for seventeen years. 

My adoptive mother, the one I call "Mom" was born in a hospital. Her mother, my grandmother could be described as talented and busy. She fought often with my grandfather. My grandfather was lovely in many ways, but he could also be stubborn and opinionated. My grandmother married my grandfather because she grew up with him. He lived across the street from her. I don't know why she married him because her heart always longed for another man, one who moved to NYC. She spoke of him often when we were alone. 

My Mom grew up listening to my grandparents passionate arguing. She hated it. She was the oldest of four children. She always viewed my aunt as my grandmother's favorite, but labeled herself as her grandmother's favorite. It was from my great grandmother that she learned to scheme, lie and keep secrets. They taught her about control. She liked that and to this day speaks of those lessons learned with pride. 

My grandparents broke up a few times but always reconciled. My mother was given gifts if she did the underhanded things my great-grandmother asked her to do. She sided against her mother. This type of insecurity made my mother dislike change and value order and routine. It made her place great emphasis on material objects and apply an emotional attachment to those objects. My mother started an obsession with dolls at that time. She still engages in these types of relationships with dolls, plants and dogs. She talks with them and thinks of them as her children. She says a daily rosary for the dog. 

My Mom can only do things the way she has always done them. She cannot sway. She is obsessive. She will not acknowledge any sort of discomfort. She goes along with illogical thinking, especially if it is someone else's idea or platform.  She lies and schemes to get what she wants just like a child. She's obsessed with my sister and the dog to the extreme. She thinks of my father as her best friend because he goes along with her schemes in order to get the material things he wants. He's rewarded by her if he does. My sister does also. She can't make a move without consulting Mom.

Enter me. At a young age I see that these people are bizarre. I know that I am adopted, so I have every reason to believe that I am different. However, I still need to be loved. I keep trying to get something from her, that my sister can have, but I can't. There is no way I can  have a real relationship with her. I reject what that requires. 

 My sister and Mom have a relationship that is unnatural. Even at a young age, I just can't be a part of that. For example, I knew that shaving my mother's legs would be an abnormal thing for me to do. I had no desire to do abnormal things which is why I don't think I was sexually abused. I was outspoken about my outrage at what was going on. The time I spent in my room as a punishment for my behavior allowed me to enter into my own interior world.

As a result, I would hang out with the neighbors as often as possible. I also attached myself to any adult woman who was nice to me--my aunt, substitute teachers, librarians, lunch monitors, etc. I made sure I was helpful and well mannered so that people would appreciate my presence and invite me back. I was compassionate and kind to people who were overlooked because I knew what that was like. 

I do have compassion for my mother. I know that she is unwell. I accept her limitations, I can often predict how she will behave. Sometimes I take care of her emotionally, sometimes I do thoughtful things for her, sometimes I am contrary just to make her mad. Most of the time I listen to her going on in an illogical fashion about the dog or people I have never met. I try to offer suggestions, another point of view. She doesn't hear me most of the time.

This is the reality, but it is not the reality that I want to be a part of.  As I read through this I see why I do the things I do. Joanna you are so smart. 

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