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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.


Observing the adult Mary who chronically overeats and binges, we notice seemingly inexplicable traits. She has limited and odd childhood memories. She cannot remember the old living room, but she does remember the TV. She doesn't want her children playing with crayons. She continually tries to please her father with gifts and attention. She is angry at her mother most of the time.

She will not have furniture with wooden legs in her home. She refuses to be in a room with any man, including her husband, while he is reading a newspaper. She is afraid to laugh in public. She has many secrets. She may steal little sweets in the grocery store or in social settings when she thinks others are not looking. She will refuse to attend violent movies. Yet she may have sadism/masochism fantasies, perhaps secret, perhaps acted out.

She may blank out at times. On careful observation we might notice that these mental blanks occur when someone around her has body, facial or verbal mannerisms similar to her father.

She has deep bouts of sorrow and loneliness where no one can cheer her up. She feels alone, ugly, bad, scared and is the worst person in the world to herself. She gets angry and sad when people will not change rules or behavior for her. If they do change to accommodate her wishes, she will be briefly grateful but will feel the changes are not enough. She surprises people by not remembering them or their kindness. She doesn't remember needing people.

She overeats regularly. Sometimes she vomits on purpose. When she feels familiar despair she will binge.

Mary is trapped in the overeater's prison. Mary exercises. She reads diet books. She doesn't understand why she can't stop overeating. She believes she overeats and feels bad because she is bad. She is certain that if she stopped overeating her life would be fine, and she would be happy and a good person. She feels humiliated and helpless because she can't stop.

Mary is not curious about her feelings. Her main concern is stopping her feelings, not understanding them. Her lack of curiosity and her insistence on making food her main point of focus are crucial in maintaining her ignorance about herself.

As long as her secrets remain unknown to herself, Mary will continue to feel she is in constant danger. Because she is oblivious to the torture and heartbreak she experienced in her past, she has not learned to recognize and avoid abuse in her present. She may allow abusive people in her life, even invite them, because she doesn't know she has more power than she did as a child. For her, abuse is more than familiar. Abuse feels like home.

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