By Carol Solomon, Ph.D. MCC
My client, Carla, was aching to stop binge-eating so that she could become more slender. As much as she wanted to lose weight, Carla viewed thin people as vulnerable, exposed and weak.
She somehow feared that she would “blow away in the wind” if she became thin. She thought she was being “shallow” in her beliefs about thin people, but it turned out to be much deeper than that — several core emotional issues emerged.
Even though I think thin people are weak, and I don’t want to be like them, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m afraid I’ll blow away in the wind if I don’t eat enough, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I think thin people are exposed and vulnerable, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I’m not sure what this means, or how I came to believe this, it feels threatening, like I might not even exist if I don’t eat enough, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Thin people are weak
Thin people are vulnerable
Thin people are exposed
They can’t protect themselves
I don’t want to be like them
I might blow away in the wind
It doesn’t feel safe to lose weight
I don’t know what this means, but it feels like some scary times I had in my past … like my very existence was threatened.
Through this sequence, Carla made some important connections. As a child, Carla’s parents made her eat 3 meals per day, “so that she wouldn’t get too thin,” but restricted her from eating junk food.
Carla often felt deprived, so she would binge eat in secret, and then eat her meals anyway, so her parents wouldn’t suspect that she was binge eating. Whatever she was deprived of, that’s what she craved. As an adult, Carla could not restrict herself to 3 regular meals without feeling deprived.
As a child, Carla had been abused.
She “waited” to get through childhood, promising herself she could have and do whatever she wanted. As an adult, she refused to constrain her food choices and hated being told what to do. (She had a little 5-year-old inside, who was stomping her feet and refusing to compromise).
Even though I’ve been waiting my whole life to get through childhood, so I can have whatever I want and do whatever I want, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I HATE being told what to do–no diet is going to tell me what to do, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I don’t like to wait, I want to have it right away and I’m afraid it won’t be enough, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I refuse to be “without” even though it’s costing me, I deeply and completely accept myself.
I don’t like to wait
I have to have it right now
I might not get through the day
It won’t be enough
I refuse to be without
I WILL have what I want
No one is going to tell me what to do
You can’t make me (the voice of the 5-year-old inside)
At this point, Carla began to describe her childhood abuse, in which she endured numerous instances of being hit and witnessing her brother being hit by her father. Like many trauma victims, Carla would dissociate during the abuse. “I could disconnect my head off my shoulders. I could leave my body and be really still.”
Carla knew that “being really still” was the key to her survival.
As much as the abuse hurt, struggling or running would have made it much worse. Carla’s survival mode was to imagine that all of her weight was going down into her feet. Being “weighted down” would keep her from running and minimize the abuse. She even imagined herself wearing leaded boots that would anchor her.
Carla also believed that if she kept a layer of padding (extra weight) on her body, the abuse would be less painful. If the padding wasn’t there, she would have no protection. As an adult, she still thought that the “padding” kept her safe.
It didn’t feel safe to lose weight.
Even though I had my lead boots on for my own protection, and I made myself stand still and “take it,” I choose to know that I can now be free, and it IS safe to lose weight.
Even though this heaviness held me in the spot and that served me in the past, I deeply and completely accept myself for what I had to do.
Even though it feels scary to lose weight, and to be without padding, I love and accept myself anyway.
Even though I’m afraid to be like those thin people, I choose to know that I can lose weight and still be safe.
I had my lead boots on
So I wouldn’t float away
I was just a child
But I was smart enough to know what I had to do
To not make it any worse
I wanted to run
I was terrified
But I knew it would only make it worse
So I made myself “take it”
I was so strong
I knew what I had to do and I did it
But it was a horrible situation
My heaviness kept me strong
But I don’t need that anymore
I am safe
I am strong
I don’t need to wait any longer, and I don’t need to “weight” myself
I choose to release this heaviness and this padding
I don’t need it anymore
I can be safe without it
I am safe
I’ve endured so much as a child, and I honor myself for how hard it’s been
That was then . . . and this is now
I can take those lead boots off
I can be strong AND thin
It has nothing to do with food.
Carla was incredibly relieved to make these connections. Her binge eating is greatly decreased, and she can now eat 3 healthy meals per day without feeling rebellious.
I have worked with Carla for 12 sessions. She was astounded by her progress using EFT compared to traditional therapy. Her question to me at the end of this session was “How can I have accomplished more in 12 sessions, than I have spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in traditional therapy?”