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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.


On a course last spring, we were instructed to use arts and crafts materials to create something that represented what "endings" meant to us, we only had about 15 -20mins, so I painted whatever came out and as we all took turns to explain our work, I described what I had painted, saying it was a representation of 'plodding along quite happily in life, until something happens (an "ending"), and then falling into a bit of a black hole, a dark place, where you might stay for a while before eventually emerging to new opportunities and bright new beginning(s)'. A few days later I was writing about it in my reflective journal, which was part of the course, and wrote...

“During the creative task when we had to make a representation of what endings mean to us, I knew instantly I needed to represent a bright white light and glitteriness , that signified the new beginnings that come forth as a result of endings. I used finger paints because I like the tactile experience, but also because this work needed to capture an essence, the feelings, rather than be a “picture” as such. And I think there is something about that that links to the development of infants and how their vision develops, where at first they don’t see things clearly as we see them, their eyes can’t focus properly, it’s just big fuzzy blobs with attention paid to the colour and the feelings that go with those colours. Oh wow!!!! As I’m typing this, I realise that what I actually finger painted was my birth, but I didn’t know it at the time, it makes me cry to realise that, but I’m not sure why, something to do with how powerful it is that I did that without thinking, that it really is all stored in the brain, that more and more I’m being shown evidence that supports the powerfulness of the subconscious and the belief that we do remember everything, nothing is lost, and that is amazing"

The comfortable place, the black hole, and the bright new beginnings, were so obviously when you looked at the picture, the womb, the birth canal, and being born into the harsh bright lights of daylight, and when I look at paintings I've done in the past that I thought were just abstract designs, they are clearly birth pictures too. What the whole experience has made me believe is that life is just a continuous repetition of this birth cycle, from that first time we are born, over and over until we die (which many people with NDEs have described as being drawn into a dark hole, travelling towards a bright light, not that I was ever sure I believed that kind of stuff in the past, but maybe I do now).

And so metaphorically speaking, when we are forced to move away from what we were familiar with and what was comfortable, but before we reach that start of a new chapter and new direction, that place where thoughts and feelings are at odds with each other, where things are confused, where we are seeking to make sense of things, to try to figure out how to move on and where we're going, is what I view as travelling along the birth canal.

I feel like I'm currently in the birth canal at the moment, I feel a little bit lost and directionless, but I haven't yet figured out where I'm going, where my shiny new beginnings and the right opportunities lie. I know that if I keep attending to it and trying to figure out "what next? what now?" that I will get there... I'm just not there yet.


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