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.
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 🙂