"To clear your heart is simple. Just change the question from "Why is this happening to me?" to "Why is this happening? And what's the relationship between cause and effect, choice and outcome?" Or even better, "What can I learn from this?" - Sonia Choquette
"Why is this happening to me?" I cannot tell you how often I asked that question. It always came up when things in my life weren't flowing as smoothly as they might have. I asked that after my first husband abandoned our marriage. I asked that after a so-called friend took advantage of me. I asked that after one of my bosses took advantage of my willingness to work my fingers to the bone.
I was always the victim. It was always, "Why is this happening to me?"
Instead I should have been asking, "What can I learn from this?". Easier said than done, isn't it? The victim mentality is so common with people suffering from bulimia. We seem to believe that we deserve the hardships that come our way. We seem to believe that everyone is harboring terrible thoughts about us.
In my case, it was simple. My ego was driving my thoughts and actions rather than my soul.
The more I thought of myself as a victim, the easier it became to justify my ever-increasing reliance on my disease. It was both reward and punishment. During recovery I came to understand that if I ever wanted to break out of this cycle, I had to banish this victim mentality once and for all. I also had to be realistic about a number of irrefutable points:
The bottom line was this: playing the role of the victim was one of the most harmful things I could do to myself.
As soon as I admitted this, I had to surrender another convenient justification for indulging my disease. Since I could no longer play the helpless role, I had to empower myself. No one else could do that hard work of recovery for me.
As my focus shifted, I started listening to my heart instead of my mind and ego. Suddenly, I was on a path to building a major foundation of personal growth..
Below is a list of questions I often asked myself in the course of taking ownership of my thoughts and behaviors. Try asking them of yourself next time you are trying to overcome feelings of being a victim:
To those who do not suffer from an eating disorder this seems like an obvious statement. To sufferers like you and me, not so much.
Bulimia does not provide any solutions to the twists and turns of the human experience and it never has. As sufferers we know that bulimia creates more pain and more wounds than anyone could ever imagine.
It will not erase negative feelings. It will not alleviate fear. It is not a panacea to anything.
Yet for years, I used bulimia as if it were some sort of magical answer. Isn't it amazing to look back and realize this? In a perverse, very perverse way, I believed that bulimia was an answer. I saw it as a solution. It was my one and only coping mechanism, no matter what the situation, good, bad or indifferent.
If this sounds familiar, then maybe this will too. A huge step forward in my recovery was to admit to myself that bulimia was not the answer to anything. The next step was to admit it to the people who were in my life: my loved ones, my friends, my therapists.
The moment I did so, it felt like a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. Oh yes, I knew it would take time and patience to fully embrace this revelation. After all I'd been a prisoner of my eating disorder for a quarter of a century. But all of a sudden I had a new mantra, a new affirmation:
"Bulimia is a problem, never a solution. And it never has been."
To support this affirmation and to embrace its words, I now had to apply logic to my thought patterns. And if you are a fellow sufferer you will know how alien logic is to us. I had to admit the damage bulimic behaviors were inflicting on my body and indeed my psyche. I had to battle that voice in my head that tried to convince me otherwise. Above all else I had to trust and embrace the intelligent, logical me. The real me.
Admitting that your eating disorder is a problem and never a solution is a huge step on the road to recovery. To this day, even in recovery, I continue to repeat this affirmation to myself. I cannot afford to allow the twisted, illogical thoughts that once convinced me otherwise to reassert themselves.
If you are a sufferer reading this, I implore you from the bottom of my heart to speak these words out loud to yourself first, then to your therapist and to your family:
"Bulimia (or whatever your disease) is a problem, never a solution."
After a 25 yr battle with Bulimia I am recovered and dedicated to helping others also win their battles with Bulimia or other Eating Disorders. I have chronicled my struggle, as well as strategies for recovering, in two books and encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to me confidentially