Sunday, July 10, 2005

Becoming Self-Honest

We all get the opportunity to climb the 4 steps thoughout the day. In the beginning the steps feel awkward. We may think that we want to be be in control. Unfortunately it is not that simple. Only a part of us wants that. I call this part my mature or parent-self. There is, however, another part that prefers to be lost in the addiction or disorder. I like to call this part my emotional child-self. Mine communicates with me through different genres of emotional states, some more uncomfortable than others.

As a therapist and author, I communicate with my patients and readers through my own truths. For me to be therapeutic, I must be willing to stand in the light....not to be frightened of self-exposure. Quite honestly, the only difference between myself and my patients or readers is that I am well-versed in the 4 steps and have carpeted mine with motivating images.

I have some very powerful emotions that have integrated themselves in my own disorderly eating patterns. I mentioned in an earlier post that I have clear recollection of eating/bingeing to manage sadness and isolation. When an emotional state connects early to eating issues, it tends to be even stronger than those that come later. It is very important to learn to wake up to these emotions and to be willing to label them in some way. Many of us tend to be hard and harsh with ourselves. This means that we are hard and harsh with our child-self. It's no wonder that we are not willing to see ourselves or our disorder. When the child-self feels so highly criticized or judged, she or he hides. One cannot get better in this way.

It takes time and practice to be willing to see without judgement or harsh criticism. For me, this is an ongoing process. Quite honestly I wouldn't want it any other way. Each day brings new opportunities to show and tell.
Yesterday I came in contact with my bored and listless self. I just returned from presenting seminars in Spain, and had my busy re-entry back to work. There is a part of me that loves having too much to do. This is the same as working best under pressure. Many of you may be familiar with that part of your personality. Once the pressure is off, the bored self often presents itself. That's what happened to me yesterday. To top it off, we were waiting for Hurricane Dennis and so we were house-bound. It's not uncommon for my claustrophobic child-self to appear in moments like these. You can see how the stage was being set for me to manage my emotions with food. I remember wishing I had bought soda and other junk, so I could sit in front of the TV and chill-out. "After all, didn't I deserve some enjoyable down-time? " The child-self continued, "Do I have to work all the time?" I'm sure you have all been in similar scenes such as this.

When we are familiar with working the 4 steps, it is possible to counter this without too much trouble, but without the steps it would become a disasterous day for disorderly eating and all the outcomes that follow it, both short and long-term. In the past, it took me days to get over a binge experience. I could count on headaches, upset stomach, outrageous cravings, extreme fatigue and roller-coaster emotions. That's quite a lot to pay the piper, and that doesn't include the long-term problems....for the mind and body do not forget. I tell my patients that the body is like a bank account. What you eat, drink, swallow, inhale, etc. is added to your already present balance. Sooner or later you will get to pay the piper.

It's still raining, but I'm feeling better today. Each time I work on the 4 steps I become stronger and can deal with more difficult challenges. I look forward to today, wondering what's around the corner for me.