“Let’s Talk About Something Else…”


My therapist said that this week and although the shift was abrupt, it was welcomed.

When she said that, I felt a sense of gratitude because we’ve done nothing but go in circles with me talking about food and her talking about food, and me talking about why I can’t change and her talking about why I should, and just coming to no consensus because we are both firm in our beliefs.

So, the change was welcomed and needed. Internally I felt even more gratitude that other issues would be given attention instead of the food getting all the attention. As we talked I also felt sad that we had wasted so much of the session on food before the subject was changed.

My therapist wanted to get at what’s behind all of this and I think she was changing tactics. Instead of trying to talk me out of my disordered thinking, which had been unsuccessful, I think she decided to attack the problem another way in hopes that the eating issue would be resolved because we figured out the why.

She asked me where all this was coming from and I had no answer. I have a done a minuscule amount of reading on eating disorders this past week and had only come up with the conclusion that I don’t have one because I don’t fit the requirements for either anorexia or bulimia. On a side note my therapist said EDNOS would be my diagnosis. Whoopie.

Anyway, I told her that in my brief reading, it would seem that if I was going to develop some sort of eating disorder, it should have happened when I was younger in response to my abusive upbringing, not now in my 30’s. And it also made no sense to me because I don’t recall ever going without food, so why would I develop a food issue at all? I find it all very confusing.

My therapist’s suggestion was that I had various coping techniques or distracting methods as I grew up and that perhaps this is only one in a long line of things I’ve done to survive. But she also believes that there’s always a reason behind behaviors like this if we can look deep enough or far back enough. One aspect she mentioned was control, which is kind of obvious but we’re looking for more. She asked me to think back to my childhood but again I was stymied because I didn’t have food issues growing up. We were poor but I never went hungry.

The only situation that I can think of where food might have been an issue when I was a child, was when my mother left me at home alone at night while she did whatever she was out doing. During those times I talked to my imaginary friends to get through it and I pretended to be someone else’s child, in a family with two parents who loved her. I even made up some siblings to take care of me and talk to. I honestly don’t remember eating during those times or being allowed to use appliances to heat up things. But I’m not saying food was an issue, only that I can’t really work out any other time when I would have been more neglected physically. It could be that I ate before she left and therefore wasn’t hungry later. I don’t know.

There was also the time when I visited my biological father and his (then) new wife, seeing him for the first time in what was probably 7 years or more. I’ve written about this before but I view this time differently than my “childhood”.

My father’s wife left me at their apartment with no food for hours and no idea when they were coming back. I got hungry but there was no food. They came back eventually and my father’s wife gave me a some fast food to eat. As I gratefully took a bite she smiled and said that I was eating my father’s food. I was immediately horrified and mortified. I was so embarrassed that I can’t even describe it. I stopped and apologized for eating it because I thought it was for me. She smiled in what I now know was malicious glee and after letting me squirm briefly she said that she was kidding and that it was for me. I found it very difficult to eat that meal.

The reason I view that situation differently though is because I was no longer a child. I was at least 12 years old or possibly going on 13 years old if not 13 already. I feel that I was old enough to not allow something like that to affect me so severely. I honestly don’t see any connections to that past and now.

Going back to this week, my therapist said that one thing I should do is figure out what emotion I’m trying to distract myself from by doing all of this. She has four categories of feelings in order to keep things simple: sad, mad, happy or scared. She says that everything can fit into one of those categories. So her question was: which of these emotions am I avoiding? That would be the key to why I started doing this.

She said that an exercise could be to think about which of those emotions am I least comfortable with? Or which one am I most averse to? Whichever one it is, that’s the one that all of this distraction is actually about.

She said to imagine if someone asked me how I was doing, which of those four emotions would I never admit to?

I was also supposed to think about my childhood and find the thread there. I asked her how I was supposed to do that when I can’t remember anything about my uncle, apart from the one incident? Her feeling was that whatever thread I found in my time with my mother, I would also find it further back with him.

At this point in the conversation I brought up (again) my worry (or fear) that I’m just making up stuff about my uncle. I said what I was most afraid to say to her which was: ‘When you said that it would be unlikely that his kissing me between the legs would have been his first move on me, perhaps I ran with that and made up a whole bunch of scenarios for whatever reason.”

She asked, “For what reason?” with a tone of absolute puzzlement as if she couldn’t imagine why I would do such a thing. She has a lot of confidence in me doesn’t she?

Then she said to me, “Are you that open to suggestion?” in a tone that was ripe with “Yea right!” She described the type of personality that would be more prone to suggestion, which according to her, is the complete opposite of who I am; a fact that she was aware of when she first said what she did. She said that she has to be aware of who a person is at their core and I’m assuming she said this because she believes that I would never respond to a suggestion by just going along with it. I like to think that she’s right. In any other circumstance I would say that I know who I am but in this….it’s just harder.

I told her that I could not deal with a realization that I made this up. I couldn’t. It would destroy me and because of that I wondered if that was my fear.

And no, I’m not easily influenced by suggestion, but knowing that doesn’t make me accept everything I’ve seen either nor does it cancel out the doubt. My saving grace in this is that she never suggested anything else like where anything could have taken place, or when or how. Her only thought was that my uncle wouldn’t have done that in a house full of people as step 1 in abusing me. I came up with the “hallway”, the “room”, lying on the floor, etc. all by myself with no input from her. And of course she puts a lot of stock in my “feelings” and gut reactions etc. I’m also reminded of all the reactions I had before any of this was ever mentioned or before I even met her.

So, I am now tasked with the lovely job of thinking about my past and delving into my emotions. Two of my favorite pastimes. Hurrah!

I haven’t done any deep thought yet but I’m pretty sure the emotion I’m running from is either Sad or Scared. Right now my gut is telling me the emotion is Scared but I need to think about it some more.

At least I can think about something else for a while…

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Molestation, DID, dissociative identity disorder, Eating Disorder, Incest, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, self-harm, Self-injury, Sexual Abuse and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Something Else…”

  1. andromache12 says:

    I understand how it could be difficult to accept that you have an ED (if, in fact, your therapist is right), especially when it doesn’t fall into either of the specified ED categories (anorexia or bullimia). I have a friend who is diagnosed with EDNOS, and through her, my understanding of what an ED is includes an unhealthy relationship to food in any form – whether it is near-complete avoidance or over-eating or anything in between. I also think it is valuable to think about it as a coping mechanism, even if you can’t think of a reason or remember anything about food/hunger being an issue for you while growing up. I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder (and don’t think I have one), but definitely used food for a few years as a coping mechanism – as in, ‘I feel sad now, so I will eat something to make me feel better’, and I was more than happy to gain many many pounds to hide my body from people. My friend with EDNOS uses food in a similar way – to distract her from powerful emotions that she isn’t comfortable feeling, and as far as I know, she didn’t grow up with specific issues about food either. Anyway, I’m just trying to say there may be no clear childhood reason you have an unhealthy relationship to food (if you do, like your therapist seems to think) and that EDNOS is still an ED, equally as valid as the others!!

    Also, at 12 or 13, children are still very dependent on the adults in their lives for everything (including emotional support and an overall supportive environment!). It sounds like the adults, or at least some of them, in your life were not very nice or responsible in raising a child, so even at this “advanced” age, I think it is ok to expect that meanness from parents/parental figures would still very much affect you!

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi andromache,

      Thank you for that, seriously. Your effort to allow me to continue to believe I may not have an ED was not lost on me. 😉 I appreciated your tact and reasonableness. Thank you also for sharing your friend’s story and your as well. I hope your friend works through those issues and finds peace. And your use of food during sadness makes a lot sense too.

      I think you’re right that an unhealthy relationship with food describes eating disorders, I’m just not ready to admit that for myself yet (I’m more than able to see it in others haha). I’m glad that you guys are willing to stick with me while I work through this stuff.

      Your thoughts on how events could affect a 12 or 13 year old were also good to consider. Thanks. 🙂

      • andromache12 says:

        😉 I remember when my therapist was telling me I had DID, and I didn’t believe him. I mean, I don’t think it was as ever as clear cut as ‘You have DID’ and me saying ‘No, you’re wrong’, but he’d suggest I do internal communication or read chapters in books on DID, and I wasn’t having any of it. I’d read the chapter or try internal communications, and I just felt dumb or like I was wasting my time because it didn’t apply to me. So yeah, I totally get when a therapist is saying something like that with which you don’t agree. I also think therapists can be wrong sometimes too!

        I give my friend huge brownie points – she dealt…well, is dealing…with her EDNOS separate and apart from her trauma stuff…as in, she recognized that her ED was destructive, but knew that she didn’t want to wait until she was in a better place with her trauma stuff to start dealing with her ED, so she put herself in an intensive outpatient program specifically for ED until she got her eating/relationship to food under control. Theoretically, this establishes safety for her so she can move on to the other stuff without feeling helpless about her eating spiralling out of control. Erm, or at least that’s what I think her plan/approach is. I went to a few of the friends/family support groups with her…turns out of the 20 or so ED patients in that group, most were EDNOS (I think one or two were bullimic and one or two were anorexic).

  2. castorgirl says:

    Hi CI,

    I’m older than you… so, I don’t have an eating disorder either, because my disordered eating didn’t start when I was under 30, and I’ve been given the diagnosis of EDNOS?

    Yes, I’m challenging your thinking… I’m not offended by your attempts to minimise, deflect, avoid, distract, etc from the issue.

    There was an article I read recently about women who developed an eating disorder “later in life”… as a population, they had some different characteristics to those who developed an ED earlier in life. I can see if I can find the article and send it through to you, if you want.

    One of the things that Allison has asked me to do, is try to remember what I was thinking, or feeling just before there was a need to do any of the disordered eating behaviours. At first, I couldn’t capture it, but I’m starting to see a pattern… It’s got nothing to do with food 🙂 I’m not sure if it will help you, but thought I’d mention it, just in case…

    Can I ask something?? Do you have any good memories associated with food from your past? What about any other bad ones?

    Please take care,
    CG

    • CimmarianInk says:

      CG,

      It never occurred to me that what I said would minimize what you’re going through. You know my superpower is excluding myself from the experiences of others. When it comes to you or anyone else I would absolutely, 100% believe an eating disorder exists. But I change the rules for me.

      I’m really sorry if my comments made it sound like I was dismissing your struggles. 😦

      I am curious about the article you mentioned.

      As far as what led up to this, I will have to look back at the blog to see if I can read what was going on.

      There are some good food memories surrounding my grandmother and some not as nice ones surrounding my mother. I would have to think about it some more.

      • castorgirl says:

        Hi CI,

        You read my second paragraph didn’t you? I was challenging your thinking with my first paragraph… showing you your thinking ED thinking, a thinking that isn’t based on reality. Until you start looking at the reality of the situation, you’re always going to be creating one set of rules for yourself, and another for everyone else… I knew that was what you were doing within this post, and I wasn’t at all offended. But, you have to be aware that what you’re saying about me and my struggles, is just as valid for yourself – if it isn’t, am I the one who’s special, or are you?

        Don’t get too caught up in the food memories, because I think you’ll find that what you’re experiencing has very little to do with actual food, and more about what the food represents – whether that be control, a reflection of your pain, anger, etc… You’ll find that most ED treatments focus on the underlying issues about what the food represents, rather than the food itself. That’s why I’ve said before, the food is a symptom, and not necessarily the cause.

        Take care,
        CG

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Hi CG,

        Well you are special, but for different reasons. 😉

        Having different sets of rules is a constant with me but it’s also something that makes me miserable because I judge myself much more harshly than others.

        I meant to say before that I’m glad you have found some patterns that connect to the disordered thinking. That sounds like progress. I’m hoping to make some progress on that front myself.

        If you find the article you were referring to go ahead and send it. I’m curious too, will you write about the patterns you discovered that led up to the ED? I’m torn between trying not to be nosy and being genuinely interested.

  3. meredith says:

    Boy, you sure love traveling around that barn of yours, don’t you? And with a band of strategy lookouts, too!

    I think you and CG have got the whole food dialogue going in a good direction, so no words on that. You’re going to be close to 100 before you get through therapy, though, if you don’t stop creating diversions, and I can personally say it’s a drag to even wonder about what life in therapy might be like in the latter stages of dementia… so there’s that… and, I wish you spent as much time practicing the violin as you do researching ways to contradict your therapist and argue the hurt in your life. I think pouring your heart into the ways of drawing your bow across the strings gives you a better shot with coping than poring over books of OTHER other opinions about OTHER things in OTHER settings when OTHER people…. (yeah! stressful reading, isn’t it? yuck!) Stop it, silly girl.

    My warmest hugs to you today. I thought this was a great post. You’re such a trooper!
    Meredith

    • meredith says:

      I am very sorry for writing the above comment. It was wrong. It was inappropriate.

      To those of you who read the comment, I deeply apologize.

      Meredith.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Meredith,

        Why are you apologizing? I moderate every comment so if I put something up I have a reason for doing it. If someone says something rude, I call them out. I had no plans of doing that with you my dear.

        I understand what you meant. You were trying to get me to stop distracting. I get that and I wasn’t offended. I know you hun, we’re good. 🙂

      • meredith says:

        good.

        thank you.
        ~m

  4. Chris Davis says:

    Cimm… we follow your blog, and we have even commented a time or two… and we wondering if you’d be interested in joining the new group we created through our FB page… the group is ‘secret’ in that everything is private and unsearchable… only viewable by members, but you might find a lot of good support and people who struggle with the same things… we have been watching threads develop about just such topics. Sending a link that tells how to get there… you are welcome to join us…. Our hearts to yours… and all your inside Ones. 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=372749569485667&set=a.307347096025915.70813.307337682693523&type=1&theater

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for the link. I’ll think about it but I don’t have an anonymous account on FB and having my real name out there would be very disturbing for me.

      I was going to tell you that I’m reading the book (I believe) you suggested, about narcissistic mothers? It’s been quite good so far.

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