The Disordered Eating group kicked off! Information can be – found here – for interested women living in the Manawatu – Whānganui – Horowhenua – Tararua – Wairarapa regions . What I have learned thus far is that the world of disordered eating is a lot bigger in terms of it’s politics. It’s a lot bigger than product advertising, supermarket psychology and the misuse of colour. It’s a lot bigger than the annual multi billion dollar industry. It’s bigger than what I could have imagined.
I would be lying if I were to say that the effects of marketing women, men, girls, boys through the use of various media hasn’t overwhelmed me in just the last two weeks. I’ve felt quite overwhelmed by the enormity of visual and audial stimulation that I am again aware of, that I had actually become oblivious to – much like the size of my body.
This ‘age of obesity’ we hear like part of every day conversation now, continues to be plagued by many attitudes of abhorrence, misguided viewpoints and assumptions whereas attitudes towards emaciation tend to attract sympathy, pity and much more of the like. For myself, this is not a new awareness.
I learned during the first 3 weeks of group that there are way more commonalities to anorexia, compulsive eating and bulimia than there are differences. I have a very close friend who is anorexic. In the times her and I have talked openly about our relationship to food we have been as far away on a continuum line as is our weight differences. When we have shared our life stories surrounding why we have misused the sole function of food, that continuum line that separates us in terms of a black and white way of looking at the world, vanishes. My darling friend and I discovered through each others tragedies, that essentially, we are the same. It is our behaviour – or our behaviours with food that are different. That is the external factor – our food behaviour. The internal factor, the one thing that brings my friend and I into a much deeper comprehension and level of compassion for each other, is having come to know through our sharing that the bottom line is, we feel the same. We share many of the same core beliefs about ourselves. I am finding this with the women in group as well.
The “cloak” or “veil” of invisibility, something that has been loosely discussed in group during brainstorm sessions has been of particular interest to me. I have often viewed my own need to have been obese throughout childhood as a form of protection – an insurance against unwanted sexual attention. At least as a child that is what I had hoped would happen as I piled on the weight. Later on it became more complex. The ‘plan B’ when ‘plan A’ clearly didn’t keep me safe from sexual violations was then to bury myself in food – quite literally. I believed that I could eat and eat and eat and as my body became bigger and bigger and bigger that would mean that it would be harder for anyone to “get to me”. In my mind that meant that people could violate my body however they would never get to “me” again.
My ‘plan B’ has worked for most of my life. Naturally, once I got into therapy with quality therapists and joined various therapy groups as well as educational groups I was then faced with having to literally “find myself” through the layers and layers of freaking fat I’d built up around myself.
As you may have previously read, I did a year long residential alcohol and drug rehab stint during the mid 1990’s. I found myself at that rehab. I also shed a massive 75 kg over 52 weeks. Alas, what the many wonderful folk at that rehab and I forgot to think about, was that I’d had no ‘formal training’ as such in terms of managing attention that could lead to sexual activity. Around 20 months after leaving rehab I began to shovel food back down my throat. It was a fear based decision I made to do so. At that stage of my life, I did not know any other way to look after myself in terms of unwanted attention. At rehab I was safe as. The men weren’t interested in me as a means for their sexual gratification, and for the first time in my life I was able to have friendships with men and be respected by men. Fuck I had great friends back then.
Group runs for 15 sessions. So far in terms of the educational side of group plus the very deep and intimate sharing from group participants and myself, I feel incredibly privileged to have been accepted into the group by the facilitators.