Therapy Takeaways: Acknowledging Successes

“You’re really going to eat breakfast with me?!?! Mommy, you’ve never eaten with me before.”  Talk about pulling at heart strings.  Her eyes lit up with excitement, and she even set the table for us to eat.  If there has ever been a meal I’ve been proud of accomplishing, it’s that one.

For three days in a row, I managed to eat breakfast with the kids.  But….

  • It got too hard and I changed things to, “just let them see you eat something each day.”, and eventually, I failed at all of it entirely.
  • I managed to have breakfast/ eat in front of the kids, but I restricted for the rest of the day.
  • I completely cut out water and had a lot of really bad seizures–sometimes up to 15 seizures a night.

I was so conflicted about the experience.  I felt like I had taken a huge step forward but then several steps back.  For the first time ever, I was actually proud of myself for finishing a meal instead of focusing on how horrible the anxiety of the experience had made me feel. I knew it was a huge gain.  But the steps back–the restricting food, the cutting out water, the seizures–made me feel trapped and hopeless. I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t untangle myself from that net.

I walked into therapy ready to relay the information, both excited about my accomplishments but frustrated by my missteps.

“Okay, so, I totally managed to eat breakfast with the kids every morning for three days, but…”

“Ah. Stop right there. No buts.  Three days is much better than I anticipated you doing. That is a huge accomplishment in itself.  It’s not going to go perfectly.  You did really well.”

We did eventually address those “buts”, trust me they were not excluded from the conversation nor minimized.  However, I walked away feeling both accomplished and reassured.  Restricting and seizures are not something new to me, but fighting back against my eating disorder and challenging myself to eat in front of others is. This week my goal is the same–to eat breakfast with the kids–but this time in smaller portions so that I’m less likely to restrict.  I’ll update on how it goes!

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