escaping the “I’m fat” trap

On Wednesday I had a productive therapy session. Not every session is productive. I would like to say it is especially because the amount of money therapy costs is ridiculous (much less than they used to be thanks to Obamacare – yes, I know, I know, polotics, but seriously no matter where you stand on that issue my therapy costs has gone down so that’s helpful)  but the reality is that sometimes therapy is just not productive at all and somedays counterproductive. Sometimes those counterproductive sessions are needed. Sometimes you can’t get anywhere unless you take a few steps backwards and realize that you are closer to hitting rock bottom than you thought. That’s when the come to Jesus moments happen so to say and change really begins to happen.

Well, my last few months have been full of those counterproductive/not productive sessions. This is just a snapshots of how my sessions have gone:

Kate: I’m fat.

Beth: What’s really going on?

Kate: Nothing. I’m just fat.

Beth: That’s your eating disorder talking. What’s going on?

Kate: Um, no it’s a fact I’m fat.

Beth: Okay so let’s work on that feeling.

Kate: No, let’s not.

See what I mean about not being productive? No part of that get’s me anywhere. Here is another example of a session.

Kate: Please, please can’t you just let me go back to my eating disorder? I promise to only use it for a little while.

Beth: Absolutely not.

Kate: Whhhhyyyyyy noooottttt????

Beth: Why would expect me to give you permission to kill yourself? What kind of therapist would I be if I did that?

Kate: Please, please, please. I can’t stay at this weight.

Beth: Why? Why can’t you accept this weight? What’s really going on?

Kate: Nothing. I’m fat.

Yeah….that would also be a non-productive session. And to my mother and father I’m terribly sorry you have been paying for half my sessions to be spent in these round and round pointless conversations. But here’s the thing. I honestly thought that somehow the anxiety, overwhelmed feelings, memories, self-hatred, destructive thoughts would simply be fixed if I wasn’t fat. And honestly I can’t believe I let myself believe that. That’s treatment lesson 101!

The first thing you learn in therapy is that fat is not a feeling. And loosing weight doesn’t make any feelings go away. And here I was sitting in therapy and stewing at home believing that FAT was causing all my problems and I could fix them by you know restricting a little here and a little there. Thank God for my therapist who does not tolerate behaviors (she seriously would terminate my therapy if I began to use symptoms.Harsh yes? What I need? defiantly.) and thank goodness I valued therapy enough to stay in it. Otherwise I would probably be on a plane back to Utah or who knows where to treatment. Which would mean a fourth consecutive Christmas away from home. I would have been devastated as would my family. But instead I had a productive session. A session that went beyond “I’m fat” and into the real stuff.

I’m not entirely sure how I got there but suddenly I was reading Beth a journal entry. I have felt really alone lately and not like I could share some of the things that I have been struggling with with my friends who I normally convide in. Not because of anything they have said or done but because I have this perceived notion that I need to be perfect and strong in recovery. Let me be clear. NONE of my friends have given me this impression. It’s from my own messed up head. So all of these things have become secrets and things hidden from the main supports in my recovery life. Suddenly, I was reading a journal entry to Beth and they all just came pouring out and once they started I couldn’t stop. By the end of the session I had a headache from crying but my anxiety and the overwhelming feeling that I must, must do something (ie loose weight) was gone. I didn’t realize this until later in the week but my obsession with my weight has dwindled significantly. No, I am not happy with my body image but I do feel better about it and not as desperate to fix it.

Beth and I talked about how to proceed after I read my journal entry because they was so much content that indicated we have much to work on and we have a plan to get through the holidays. After that we’ll see. The number one goal is to keep me symptom free like I am now so I can avoid treatment but still work on issues.

No more of getting distracted by the “I’m fat” trap.





Filed under body image, coping skills, eating disorder, eating disorders, Identity, Recovery

5 responses to “escaping the “I’m fat” trap

  1. Oh, sweet Kate. I completely understand the feeling of being alone because you feel like you’re supposed to be so solid and not being able to speak up. That is just our eating disorders trying to get us back into their grip. Keep speaking up, even if it’s just in therapy. Sounds like you’ve got a great therapist who is on your side. Hang in there!

  2. Sarah

    It’s been challenging to watch you spin your wheels–glad you had a productive session and have a plan!!!

  3. Good for you! It’s hard work and every time you walk into her office it’s a big act of courage! I’m a therapist and I can say that I remember long ago going to therapy and sitting there for 20 minutes refusing to utter a word!

  4. Glad to hear you are re-focusing on the real issues, Kate. I hear you, body image is such a frustrating and incredibly complex issue that we have to deal with every single day. Gosh, every second I think I’m over it, it rears its ugly head again. But there is no way out except through, I keep telling myself, and this is my body and I have it and it’s with me for the long haul and guess what? For this moment, I am *proud* of it. I almost can’t believe I typed that, but I’m going to resist the urge to delete that last sentence and let it dwell in cyberspace for all eternity as evidence that I once felt it. It is true tenacity that we have survived what we once thought was unsurvivable. We are tough and we are strong and we are survivors, dammit, and I am so proud of you. No more of this shit. Let’s stop pretending that we’re just images in the mirror or legs in a pair of jeans or pounds on a scale. Before I admitted to Laureate, I was at the psych hospital at Vanderbilt, and I sat on a bench outside the nurses’ station with a woman who was bipolar and had been bulimic and she said that in early recovery, she used to look in the mirror and tell herself every woman, “I am woman, hear me roar, you will not control me anymore.” It’s been a terribly long 3+ years, but I have not forgotten that, and I still think of that little rhyme when I picture myself busting free from the chains of that control. I WILL NOT BE BOUND UP BY THIS SHIT. I love you and I miss you and i hope we can catch up soon. I am so proud of you for not being caught up in all this nonsense. You are worth far more than all this “fat” nonsense– you are beautiful and smart and kind and worthy and safe and amazing and incredible and talented, and these, my dear, are not attributes to be counted or measured, but attributes to be treasured.

  5. I love you lots. I am glad we got to chat today. Its funny how only two days without our daily phone calls makes it feel like forever.

    You are such a wonderful friend. I am so lucky to have you in my life. You have come so far, my dear Kate. I know these past weeks have been very difficult for you and I totally get being stuck in the body image piece. I am so proud of you for pushing through it. And I am so glad you have Beth to not tolerate behaviors (we are so very lucky to have such strict therapists… as much as it doenst feel like it sometimes)

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