Katie hadn’t worried about it much while still in school because the sheer busyness and activity level of college kept a lid on her weight. As soon as Katie graduated and got a job, however, things started to unravel. Even though she wanted to lose weight, she couldn’t seem to. The heavier she got, she worse she felt. Her weight became just another manifestation of her view of herself as “excess baggage.” The more out of control her life and her eating became, the angrier she got. The angrier she got, the more despair she felt. The more despair she felt, the deeper her depression. The more depressed she became, the harder it was to go to work and the easier it was to eat.
Katie dreamed of a new relationship but really had unresolved relationships to deal with first. She had to deal with the unresolved relationship with her father. Until she did this, she had an unresolved relationship with herself. Living within this fuzzy, unfocused, unresolved world was disconcerting, and in her discomfort Katie turned to food. In her despair, she stuffed her anger.
It took a great deal of courage for Katie to unpack her excess baggage. She had to open herself up to the pain of rejection and abandonment. She needed to go back and relive that horrible time in her life through the eyes of a young adult. She had to allow herself to grieve and mourn her loss, to be angry, without the familiar comfort of her old coping strategies. Once again, she needed to be vulnerable and experience the pain so she could move past it.
One of the hardest things Katie had to do was acknowledge the role her mother played in her pain. Up to this point, she had found solace in the camaraderie between herself and her mother. She was content to assign all the blame to her father and none to her mother. As she worked through the anger at her father, she discovered a deep well of resentment at her mother, kept locked away and hidden for years. Though her issues were painful and unsettling, Katie determined to get to the bottom of them and seek resolution. Hiding the pain and the anger was wreaking havoc in her life, just as she was on the cusp of really living it for yourself. Anger at others and shame at herself resolved into determination to change and move forward. As clarity came to her feelings about her parents, Katie was able to see herself more clearly. She learned who she really was and what she needed to do.
Katie’s story is not unique. It finds expression in most of the women I work with. If you have an unresolved relationship in your past, and it stays unresolved, it will cause your relationship with yourself to remain unfocused. When your relationship with yourself is unfocused, it will adversely affect every other relationship you have or will have.
SOURCE: Chapter 7: “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” in Every Woman’s Guide to Managing Your Anger by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.