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Validating the Pain Behind Your Eating Disorder: Accept the Past, Heal Today

Instead of denying the pain behind your eating disorder, you can learn to accept it. And what better time than now, during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week when I am blogging excerpts from my book, Hope, Help and Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Anorexia, Bulimia and Overeating:

It is possible to replace your faulty coping mechanism with healthy skills for withstanding the stress of life.

It is possible to feel anger without feeling rage.

Through counseling, you can learn to understand and accept your childhood and its pain. If you can weather the storm of finally learning the truth and giving up your ideal image of the “perfect” family, your pain and hurt can become like parts of a puzzle, fitting into place and giving you greater understanding of why your parents do what they do. Once you understand the way, you can begin the process of filling in the void in your life with healthy choices: with laughter and love, with family and friends, with good things, and with God.

Verbal and/or emotional abuse leaves no visible scars, so the tendency to deny that these events happened can be very great.

Often the parent will remember the circumstances from a very different perspective than the child. Your child-self recalls one version of events, and your parent another. Which is right? They may both be. When you were a child, you remembered things from the perspective of a child, often unaware of the larger picture. Your parents may never have considered how their actions looked from the other side. Take that into consideration when examining the past. You will need to accept their vision of what happened, and they must accept yours.

Finding the truth and working with your family will not be easy, but it can be extremely illuminating and rewarding. It can mean the reconciliation of relationships. Or you can gain an understanding of the type of relationship you can realistically have with your family as an adult. Much will depend upon the hurtful behavior and that person’s willingness to accept your pain.

Egregious physical or sexual abuse, by its very nature, may lead to outright denial by the abuser.

The more valid the memory, the more vehement the denial. Because societal and religious condemnation of such acts is so great, the person who abused you may never truly admit what he or she has done. The abuser may believe that if the abuse is denied outright, you may begin to doubt that it occurred at all. In spite of this, you need to realize you were hurt. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter if memories are totally clear or recalled; you still felt hurt.

The next point is so important, I want to put it in bold type to make sure you don’t overlook it:

Your self-destructive behavior did not come about for no reason. Most people who develop a severe eating disorder have had some history of abuse, and I encourage you to believe in what your past reveals. You must be determined to examine your past and accept the truth that is revealed. You must take the truth of your past and put it into perspective as an adult.

Don’t allow denial, your own or others, to halt your journey toward healing and recovery  from your eating disorder.

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