I know what you are thinking – where there is a will to avoid war, there is always a way.
I couldn’t agree more.
However, after more than two decades working in the clinical field as a trained health professional, it is clear to me that sometimes we are at war before we realize what war is.
At that point, it is time to call a spade a spade and take the steps necessary to return ourselves to the peaceful state we prefer.
For instance, I see many individuals who are suffering from an eating disorder. Anorexia, bulimia, eating disorders not otherwise specified, and binge eating disorder are increasingly common in today’s “War on Obesity” thin-obsessed culture.
Here is the problem we are facing – the world we live in glamorizes declaring war on our own body for the purposes of making peace with other dreams we hold dear – like the dream to be accepted, to be loved, to be successful. Somehow, without our probably even realizing it (I know I didn’t realize it when I was in the early stages of recognizing my own battle with an eating disorder 30 years ago!) we have adopted an internal belief system that states that where we desire peace, we must also accept war.
There is another way.
But for those of us who are suffering with an eating disorder, it is both useless and unproductive to spend time beating ourselves up for what we could have or should have done differently. An eating disorder is a lethal psychiatric disease for which there are effective treatments, and just like any other disease it deserves our highest respect and the full complement of professional care.
So for those of us who are suffering from an eating disorder, or from other forms of body-war such as low body-based self esteem, poor body image, disordered eating habits, and reluctance to engage in life’s opportunities due to how we believe that we look, we must simply acknowledge that for reasons we may not even fully understand, we have declared war on our body, and we now instead desire war’s opposite – body peace.
Body peace IS possible. I know that it is possible because I too at one time declared war on my body, and I was able to turn my own ship around and instead declare first a truce, and then a state of peace, with my own body.
It is no one’s fault when an eating disorder develops. No one single factor causes an eating disorder to unfold. Eating disorders are a complex dance of biology, psychology, and sociology, and just like for any other disease, when all the causal elements are present in one place, an eating disorder is likely to arise.
What is then important is to turn our attention from focusing on the problem – the war we were waging on our body that we now must wage against our eating disorder – to the opportunity. The opportunity is the chance to get better, and in the process to fully understand our own weaknesses, strengths, motivations, dreams, beliefs, judgments, expectations, needs, and desires at a deeper level than we ever dreamed possible.
In short, we get the opportunity to examine what it feels like to be at war, and to use that example to try on a different state for size – a state of peace. We can literally use the feeling of war to remind us of what we do not want more of, and instead turn our attention to anything that feels unlike war – and use that as a guide to explore moving closer to a state of peace.
In that way, the war can even be a gift. It is a clear sign from within telling us that something is wrong and needs our attention. It is a flag of warning trying to get our attention, and we should thank it for its devotion to warning us now, before it is too late.
If you are suffering with disordered eating, low self esteem, low body esteem, poor body image, or unwillingness to engage in all that life has to offer due to how you perceive yourself in the mirror, you both need and deserve help and support. I am living proof that there is a different way to live life – before I became a health professional, I experienced what it felt like to stand in those shoes, and that is how I know it is possible to break free.
I started Southlake Counseling, the first comprehensive eating disorders care facility in the Davidson area, for precisely this reason. At Southlake Counseling, our staff is more than just skilled, trained, and experienced. We are compassionate. We can empathize. We have been there and we know how it feels. We can help you say “no” to the precariousness of living life side-by-side with an eating disorder and instead say YES to life!
Don’t let another day go by where you live at war with the skin you are in. Remember, without war, we wouldn’t know peace. To learn more, visit us at www.southlakecounseling.com