I’ve watched the above video a dozen times over 8 years. I think because it used to help me validate myself before I had the support I do now. It also gave me hope that I could one day find a therapist that would care this much. I was just laying in bed, unable to sleep, and this video popped up in my thoughts.
It dawned on me that when she tells the story about the anorexic girl going to dinner with her family and how her dad had helped her prepare and plan for it—I used to think she was telling that story as if it were a set of instructions on how to go out to eat. (Bring back up safe food). But the real reason I am so drawn to this Ted Talk and this story is that I want desperately to have my teen self experience this family behavior with me in the midst of my eating disorder. I want desperately to have my teen self have a caring eating disorder therapist (I used to wish for one just like the speaker, Laura, but now I would wish for my own therapist).
And the amazing thing is—this can kind of be done. It’s kind of what I’ve been doing. When I let other parts of myself be present during meal support, I am gifting myself the support I needed then, now.
Today I had the thought that every time I accidentally skip a meal or deny hunger, the eating disorder WILL come. I don’t have any space in my recovery to forget meals or not eat when I’m not feeling super hungry. Yesterday I didn’t feel hungry for much of the day and by the time I did, without even realizing it, all of my self talk was the eating disorder giving orders and tearing me down. I only spent a couple hours in the trenches (versus months or years) which is obviously a massive improvement, but it forced me to realize, now that nutrition is mostly restored and I’m thinking clearer, that if I don’t want that to keep happening, I can’t give it opportunities. Every skipped meal is an opportunity. Even skipped snacks or just not eating when I’m hungry, is an opportunity. And every time I let the eating disorder in, it makes recovery harder and longer and takes the focus away from the things I actually want to be working on (family, school, connection, getting through trauma therapy).
Tomorrow, when those ED thoughts come, I’m going to try my best to acknowledge them, instead of hate myself for (still) having them, and then remind myself I need fuel for school. Because one day I’m going to be able to say I got through all of this, and I will be as caring as Laura—tearing up in the most loving way over client progress, not over my own lunch.