In mid-summer of 1995, I started restricting for the first time. My eating disorder happened for many reasons more underlying than this event but the straw that broke the camels back was trying to somehow be more attractive, ie, thinner, to my recent high school ex-boyfriend. I had remembered earlier in the school year that his group of guy friends all had longer-term relationships (read more than 4 months like ours had been) and I was thinking what made those girls and guys stay together? And the one thing that those girls had in common was they all dieted. They ate salads on every date (per what the boys had said), they always had more polished outfits, hair and make-up than I did (per my perception) and just were somehow more attractive. I did not know anything about them but their names, what school they went to and what my perception of what I thought they looked like combined with other people’s opinions of how attractive they were.
So that was the basis of cutting my lunch down to nearly nothing (and put me on an out-of-control roller-coaster for 1.5 years before I sought help). My thoughts were at the time,”If you put more effort into looking more like them, you will have a boyfriend who doesn’t cheat and hangs around.” Wow, where was my or any wise-woman around when I needed her? The truth was I had stopped listening to and acting upon my intuitiveness at a very young age, so we just didn’t have a relationship anymore. And I didn’t have a go-to wise-women. Not because they weren’t available, I just didn’t know how to ask for guidance anymore, other people aren’t mind-readers or didn’t know how to see beyond my mask of trying to make it look like everything was okay.
So today, I want to share with you how to be your own inner wise-woman (or man) if you are wondering how to bring peace, comfort and embodiment to your life in regards to food and weight.
Here are some examples of what I would have said to my 16 year old self:
Insecure voice: You need to not eat that cookie so you can be like those other girls.
Empowered voice: How do you know those other girls don’t eat cookies? And how do you know those girls are happy with themselves or in their relationships?
Insecure (turning into ED voice): Well, if you can’t be taller like they are, at least you can be thinner.
Empowered voice: What makes you think everyone “wants” the tallest girl or the thinnest girl? Evidence please! Also, how much fun are you, because you know you enjoy cookies, going to be to be around when all your focus is going to be on what you ate or didn’t eat? What is more likely to get you attention is being your joyful, kind self.
Insecure (ED voice): But, you wouldn’t have broken up if you were just better somehow and if you can’t fix your personality you can control your food and size.
Empowered Voice: I know that the breakup was hard and confusing. Have you ever considered that he wasn’t ready for you? As much as you wanted to have a boyfriend and be cared about that maybe you weren’t the right match? And maybe you did everything “right” and he didn’t know how to break up with you without hurting you so he acted immaturely. It doesn’t make it better but I just wanted you to wonder about this. And to see that losing weight would not and cannot change any of those factors.
These, and thousands more like them, are the conversations I needed to have at that time but by re-telling them today, it allows that part of me to feel held and understood. The wise woman (man) voice is the one who will tell us the truth with gentleness, compassion and love if we take a moment to listen. Each time we hear that insecure or diet or eating disorder (ED) voice we can try to understand that beneath the restricting and eating is discomfort. You do not have to make food and weight the savior of your emotional life.
I would love to hear your stories of the Wise Woman (man) Voice meeting you in a time of need with courage, compassion and curiosity. Please write your comments below. Also share with anyone in need of listening to their wise inner voice as well.