When I was a seventy-pound twelve year old, my dad used to call me "Thunder Thighs". His intentions were not to feed a future eating disorder, he was just teasing, that's who he was. But I put it into my emotional backpack and consciously or unconsciously, pulled it out later to flog myself with it and affirm my physical imperfections and overall unworthiness. Until I had enough of that crap...
Worse, a friend of mine confided that his ex-wife, who had been sexually abused by her father, and naturally had issues with intimacy, could get mean and even violent with him sometimes. Once, in a rage, she told him he had the smallest penis she had ever seen (how many she had to compare to, we don't really know...). Although he didn't let this get in the way of future relationships... do you think he ever discussed this openly or forgot about it? Probably not, but fortunately he didn't let it stop him from loving other women.
These are the tiny little things that great big wars are built on. Wars with others, but worse, wars within ourselves.
Finally we are in an era when people are more openly admitting to having deep inner struggles with themselves. Eating disorders have slowly started being acknowledged by at least a few of those who suffer from them, albeit usually only in the past tense, and when there is a victorious outcome to report. No one wants to talk about it when they’re in the midst of it, probably because they don’t want to admit to having so little “self-control”.
Yet, in my experience, that’s exactly what it’s about… control. Or lack of it, the desire to maintain some, or the helplessness of not having any, or enough. Taking firm control of what we eat or don’t eat, when, where, with whom, and how much, is often a quite normal reaction to feelings of powerlessness in other areas of our lives. We may be feeling dependent or restrained by parents, a spouse or a colleague, by our financial situation, our life’s work or our self-esteem. Any of these issues, when unprocessed, can wreak enough havoc to cause the mind to declare war on its best friend, the body, because it’s not getting what it wants, when it wants, in the way it wants it. And it (the unconscious mind) simply doesn’t yet have the tools to deal with things differently.
If we don’t like our bodies, there’s a good chance there’s something deeper about ourselves that is not quite in line with who we truly are and how we really need to live our lives.
We think it’s all up to us… we think we make all the choices… but do we? Just how much control do you think you really have over your existence, your talents, your circumstances… and over your looks? Do you think it was up to you whether you’d be black or white, male or female, homosexual or heterosexual, tall or short, big-busted or flat-chested? Even for your parents, most of these things about you came as complete surprise!