Mother-Daughter Therapy

For maybe the third or fourth time in my recovery, my mom and I went to therapy together.

At first I was really nervous because as much as I love my mom, she absolutely does not understand me being sick.

She is gorgeous, thin, takes great care of herself, and thinks because I have half her genetics I shouldn’t worry about things like my weight and just be happy with who I am…or was.

Obviously there is way way way more to having an eating disorder than a desire to be thin so her assumptions just illustrate the lack of knowledge she has when it comes to this disease, but when she ASKED if she could come with me to see Dr. J, My therapist, I was intrigued.

I really had no idea what to expect from the session and tried to go into it with no expectations or agenda of what to discuss, so when she took the lead and started asking questions I was pretty pleased.

She expressed her desire as a mother to “fix.” She just wanted to make it all better but after several failed attempts just backed away because she realized she didn’t know how. She was worried about my medical state and just thought it was easier to establish distance, so it wouldn’t hurt as much if something serious happened. Her words gave me a lot of insight I really didn’t consider into why our relationship has deteriorated or changed so much in the last three years, when all I really wanted was her to be there for support.

Despite my struggle to verbalize my feelings and requests of her she then asked me questions that helped prompt an in depth conversation on how I can get my needs met without abusing my body through restriction and exercise.

My therapist asked very specifically, “What is it that you mom can do in situations involving food, that would demonstrate her understanding and compassion?”

Well I hadn’t really thought about it, and that was a pretty difficult question to answer.

One, very large part of me wanted to tell her not to say a damn word if I wanted to only eat safe foods or engage in ritualistic behaviors that eased my anxiety in those instances.

And then another aspect of my being wanted to express how much I wish she, or anyone, could just take the weight of choice off my shoulders and adopt the “magic plate” element of the Maudsley Approach.

But neither of those things are effective because the first enables my eating disorder to continue ruling my life and the latter, while perhaps indulging my inner child that so desperately seems to want to come out (another post, another time), takes away the independence and empowerment I desperately need.

Quite the recovery paradox if you ask me.

Then I also had to consider that my needs are different on any given day.

For example…

One night Ryan may ask me to go out to dinner and I will be SOMEWHAT ok with his desire; sometimes even excited because he selects a place I deep “acceptable” and know there is something that I like.

Another day he might ask to go to the EXACT same place, for the EXACT same meal, and I will have a hissy fit that causes both an argument and us not going.

It all depends on my frame of mind, and that is absolutely not fair to anyone around me.

So when Dr. J asked what my mom could do SPECIFICALLY for me to feel more comfortable with her when we have to eat together I completely drew a blank.

Since our time was running out he proposed we do a little homework; we BOTH do a little homework.

She was assigned to read a book that I recommended called The Secret Language of Eating Disorders, as I feel it is one of the most descriptive and well written ED resources for parents in the world, and I needed to reflect on my mood, feelings, etc. in times where food is present, and determine what kind of support could potentially be helpful.

So here is what I am posing to you….because I am pretty conflicted and torn as to the kind of assistance I find to be best, what do YOU think is most beneficial when you are struggling?

If you have examples, ideas of what NOT to say, anything, I am kind of trying to get some inspiration or at least a starting point.

I know everyone is different and what works for some may not work for me, but I thought generating some ideas might light a spark in my mind.

Hopefully you all are having great week so far. Only two days until the weekend 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Mother-Daughter Therapy

  1. I think her just asking how your doing on any specific day would be a great start. Its seems as though it changes frequently and at this point binge honest with her about where you are/ are feeling at the moment at will help her and you decide the best way to go from there!

  2. I’ve found that doing something active with my mom — obviously way less strenuous because she’s not nearly as fit as I am: tennis, frisbee, walks — are awesome. I feel great, my body is not aching afterwards, but I know I did something healthy, AND it’s a great way to bond and have fun with your mom! You can do some silly things on the tennis court or tossing a frisbee 😉 We act like little kids sometimes, it’s hilarious. So much more fun than sitting in a restaurant. That can be fun too, but mix up the get-togethers!

    -Trying foods together is also great. Maybe you two can re-create a family dish together, NOT substituting anything (you have to push yourself more often than not), and enjoying it. Realize that food is special, celebrated, and evokes great memories! You will not get thunder thighs from one indulgent dish 😛 Also, when you do/eat things together, it takes some pressure off from everyone zeroing in on YOU and YOUR plate of food or whatever.

    -Enjoy a movie at home and share some snacks. Have your mom bring some of her favorites and you can guys can swap during the movie.This is a good way to create a comfortable environment — you can laugh and express your anxiety, but I’m sure your mom will support you and tell you all the right things. 🙂

    Moms are just so cool! lol. My mom was very helpful in my recovery. I don’t like getting into the details of my ED with her still, and I don’t like when she sometimes “belittles” it (out of frustration), but I do thrive on comments like, “You were never fat, you were always beautiful, why would you ever try to destroy yourself? You have so much to live for! Don’t deny yourself anything!” That really hits close to home and makes me sad to think how far I let my ED control me and washes some of the guilt away that I am prone to feel once in a while.

  3. This is just wonderful CJ.. wonderful that she is willing to take the time to work with you and try and learn more about this situation and the true extent of it. I know I would be 100% lost without the support of my mom, so I am soo excited for you and your momma as well! I believe it’s necessary that your support system has some kind of knowledge on what an ED really is. My dad for example, he loves me and does support me through this all, but he still doesn’t really “get it.” I want him to read a book or something on it, maybe some internet searches, just so he can really grasp what this is all about. I might have a chat with him in the future about it

  4. I think it sounds lik your mother wants to work on your relationship which is great! During a meal with your mom maybe she could use a phrase that is a gentle reminder of your goals, such as “i am trusting you to take responsibility for your meal plan, so if you want to modify your order i can get the waiter” or something similar- this would give you a moment to check in with yourself, and if its a hard day and you are taking it out on yourself by restricting this could give you an opportunity to amend the order and not leave and be hungry an hour later yet also give you the ultimate decision making and responsi ility

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