Identify the Real Issues
In the beginning, when my eating disorder started as a young girl, it did help. Looking back, it was extremely protective. For me it gave me a sense of control in what as I saw as an unsafe world. It was the way I expressed my feelings, especially sadness and shame. It made me feel special and unique when I felt like I could not measure up to other girls my age. My eating disorder promoted my drive for perfection and not eating made me feel like I was “perfect” at something. In recovery it is important to identify the “real issues” that lie underneath and to identify the needs your eating disorder is filling. And yes, in the early stages you are getting your needs met, however with time a slue of negative consequences arises, and the eating disorder takes over – you lose control of your control. And then a necessary step is to find alternative healthy ways to meet these needs.
In Carolyn Costin’s 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder workbook, she identifies possible pieces to the puzzle of possibly why your eating disorder started and to start to process underlying issues that have nothing to do with food.
Here are the fourteen “real issues” she lists:
- Poor self-esteem
- Need for distraction
- Fill up emptiness
- Belief in a myth
- Drive for perfection
- High-achievement oriented
- Desire to be special/unique
- Need to be in control
- Wants power over self, others, family, life
- Wants respect and admiration
- Has a hard time expressing feelings
- “Safe place to go”/does not have coping skills
- Lack of trust in self and others
- Terrified of not measuring up
In my recovery I found healthy ways to meet my needs. To meet my need for expressing my feelings, I learned how to observe and describe my emotions and effectively express them. This took years and it changed my life. For my drive for perfection, I challenged the myth that perfection exists and am more reasonable in my expectations. When I feel less than or that I am not measuring up I focus on my unique gifts such as being an amazing aunt and the ability to laugh until almost pee in my pants.
Recovery is hard- the hardest challenge in my life and it is possible.