How many time have you googled ‘bulimia’. Or ‘how to stop’, or ‘what it bulimia’?. You wanted clarity but instead, you have been feeling more and more confused in your search for the answers.
Many of the sites tend to talk about bulimia in terms of behaviours associated with it. It makes us believe that the behaviours are the problem. And of course they are, because they can make you really unwell. But at the same time, they aren’t the problem and therefore should not be the focus of your recovery.
The problem is not the behaviour but why you do this behaviour. What are the reasons for you to binge and throw up, to punish your body in the gym and to starve for days after a huge binge. Why do you think you do these things?
Again, most websites talk about generic things like low self-esteem or body image or some early trauma. But telling you that you should love your body more is only making you feel worse, isn’t it. You know that already, we all do. It solves nothing.
Similarly, discovering all the details of ‘what happened back then’ and re-traumatizing yourself can often make things worse as well. Because it feels that you are stuck with your past and can’t change it.
To me, the problem lies somewhere else. To me, bulimia, like binge eating and like every form of addiction is an indicator of some hurt that you are trying to soothe; some emotional pain, some discomfort in your body that you battle with. A stable pain that you want to silence or pacify.
Where does it come from? Not the past and not your ‘faulty’ head. The discomfort comes from the thoughts you learned to think about yourself and your life, your past and your future. The thoughts you are thinking NOW.
It comes from the thoughts you think today. Not what you though 10 years ago. But what you think TODAY! Right now. In this moment. Whether or not you are consciously aware of them or not. They are there. And if they have been with you for a while – chances are you don’t even notice them at all.
Just think about it. You know you don’t do bulimia because you are ‘crazy’, but because of the pressure that builds inside of you until you ‘have to do it’. You know how doing it takes your mind off other things – a dramatic way to distract yourself from business of the mind and from hurt on your body, from the pressure that is often unbearable. You know that when you do it, you may feel shamed or guilty, but you also, on some level, feel a little bit more at ease. Even if it is just for a moment.
Isn’t it logical then that the solution is not to find what is wrong with you or find ways to make you not buy the food you binge on, or try harder BUT to resolve the need for the inner pressure? Don’t you think that if the inner pressure is not there, you would not need to binge. If the inner pressure is gone, you would not need to create such extreme rituals to shut down your thinking and to distract yourself from the pain. And if you think that, you are right!
This is why I prefer not to say that I ‘work with bulimia’. Because I do not address the behaviours around it. What is more relevant are the stories, the narratives, the thoughts and beliefs that create discomfort.
What needs to be addressed the thinking, the emotions, the untruths in your head, the limiting beliefs and the emotions stuck for years, if not decades that still play havoc in their bodies. What needs to be worked on is guilt you still feel years after something happened or an intense feeling of disempowerment some past events gave you. What needs to be transformed is the jarring sense of loneliness you ‘inherited’ from some past ‘failed’ relationships. What needs to be dealt with is the negative self-talk and disempowering narratives that drive your behaviour. The guilt, the shame, the anger you hold against yourself.
Any compulsive behaviour, any ‘doing of something we don’t want to be doing’ says one thing to me. You are in a constant emotional pain – whether you are aware of it or not – that makes you feel disempowered, scattered, confused, exhausted, stuck and embarrassed. It makes you feel weak and out of control, it makes you feel lost and hurt. Nothing to do with food.
And this is what needs to be transformed. The discomfort you feel. And then the behaviour simply drops out. Because there is no need to do ‘this food thing’ ever again!