So I have been getting “the lecture” from my doctors about losing weight. I can’t blame them. I recognize that they are right. It would be beneficial health wise. What I wish though is that I could explain to them why it is “not that easy”. It’s not that I lack the information of “how” to do it. Actually, I have what I think would be a very effective and healthy plan to lose weight. The trouble is following it. It is not that I lack will-power per se, but that I eat for comfort. Yes, I know, bad habit. Let’s look at how this bad habit got started.
For a moment think about one of your children, or if you don’t have children a child you have cared for. Imagine a time that child was hurt or upset and you took her into your arms and soothed and comforted her. Soon she was comforted and resumed playing. What would she learn from this?
Now imagine that same scenario, only this time you don’t comfort the child but leave her to comfort herself. What would she do? How much longer would it take her to calm down? What would she learn from this?
Finally, imagine that same child abused, and not comforted…how does that child cope?
Coping mechanisms are learned in childhood. When a child is abused, there is not only the hurt of the abuse, but the lack of being comforted and learning to self-soothe. One of the signs that a child is possibly being abused is thumb-sucking past the “normal age”. Makes sense right? It is a form of comfort. I used that one for way to long. to the detriment of my top teeth, and my parent’s pocketbook when I got braces.
Adult survivors of childhood trauma have more “methods” at their disposal for “self-soothing”….eating, or eating disorders, alcohol, and/or drugs. For me “comfort eating” has been the most common. I seriously considered bulimia once, but decided it would be too difficult to hide because of my living arrangements at the time.
Recently though, with the intense emotions that are seeping out of places I carefully “hid” them in my mind, I sometimes have an intense desire to self-injure. Sorry, I know that is disturbing, it is for me too. I have wondered where in the world that came from. Just as I was writing this post a thought came to me. What if as a child, someone I desperately wanted to love me, who as a caretaker, should have loved me, only showed me attention and “affection” by hurting me…is it really any wonder that now when I seek comfort my mind turns to pain? Self-harm? Interesting. . .
Last week in therapy, my therapist told me that the part of me that says I need to be punished was originally created (by my own mind) to help me some how. I couldn’t imagine how thoughts that I need to be punished and to punish myself with pain could be helpful at all. But I am beginning to see why my child mind would create such a thing. And perhaps now I know how to talk to that “part” of myself, about some healthier options.
Speaking of healthier options, I am learning better ways to deal with my intense emotions than eating and self-harm. Journaling, blogging (“gotta” throw that in, but it’s true), drawing, talking to my Therapist, my husband and friends. Today I was really upset and instead of eating, I sent an e-mail to my old doctor. I mean previous not old…heh heh. He reads my blog, so to him…THANK YOU!
I always try to end on a positive note…so here it is for today. Every time you comfort a child…a hug, a kind word, a caring gesture like a hand on a shoulder…you are giving them a gift that is priceless. Keep doing the great things you do for the children in your life.
You are a hero to a child!