The following story was written by a client. It will give you a sense of one person's process towards health and healing.
I finally reached out for help, after years of suffering with issues related to food. I was unhappy, emotionally numb, and the world seemed to be a difficult and unsafe place. I was struggling with the relationships in my life and with myself. I thought if only I could learn to control the food I would be happy. I soon realized I was using food to medicate myself, eating to numb the pain and to block the hopelessness.
Joyce patiently listened to my unhappiness; we slowly built a trusting relationship. I treaded cautiously; she respected my resistance, understood my unwillingness, and gently encouraged me to express myself. In the beginning I could not tolerate the pain and be open to my experience. Joyce gently guided me with love and compassion, teaching and counseling until I was finally strong enough to take an emotional risk.
I began to open up to the pain, to explore and experience the pain. The pain had been buried and covered by years of disordered eating. The pain felt so frightening, and unbearable. How could I let myself feel? I was terrified.
The vulnerability I experienced during this phase of treatment was excruciating. I wanted a quick fix; I needed to feel better immediately. I finally realized I could not cover the pain with food anymore. This was going to take work, a commitment, and faith that I could heal. At times the vulnerability became unbearable. I wanted to leave – to quit therapy. Joyce encouraged me to express these thoughts and feelings and supported me unconditionally during this difficult time.
As I began to learn to experience my inner world and take care of myself, I became emotionally stronger. Gaining strength from Joyce’s confidence, I began to keep a journal, took mindfulness meditation and Reiki classes, and explored my spirituality. I incorporated daily physical activity into my routine, and worked with other healthcare providers to learn good nutritional habits. In addition, I worked to strengthen my assertiveness skills and develop reasonable boundaries. I was working to create balance in my life and to trust I could take care of myself. All this hard work resulted in more self-confidence.
As my confidence grew, the need for food diminished. There was no going back to a life where I needed to numb myself with food to live. While life is full of challenges I am learning how to cope by expressing my feelings and caring for myself.
As I learned to trust Joyce I learned to trust myself. Being able to trust myself has changed my life. I feel a sense of freedom, security, and competence that I have never experienced before. Discovering my internal strength, my ability to listen and care for myself has led to the beginning of a life where I can make decisions that are good for my health and happiness-creating a life worth living.