I like that Valentine's Day is in the same month as Eating Disorder Awareness. Love is the remedy for any addiction. I suffered from bulimia for over a decade and understand the shame, pain and hopelessness that are hallmarks of an eating disorder.
When I began binging and purging in my mid teens, I had no idea my behavior was just a symptom of my attempt to gain control over my life. The daughter of loving and intelligent parents, yet an overbearing and opinionated mother and a judgemental and distant father, bulimia offered a chance to do exactly as I pleased without the consequence of judgement or withdrawl of love.
In fact, my nice shape got me the attention of my father who applauded my ability to control my physique and allowed me to do as pleased after having to comply with my mother's expectations of me. It worked for a long time until I started to notice how my eating disorder became the center of my life and all my interests, dreams and hobbies fell to the wayside.
It's hard to plan for a binge, shop for the food, eat the food in secret, purge in secret, make up stories to your roommates or parents, lie about your weight loss, feel comfortable in your body with a sore throat and stomach, feel good about yourself when you believe you are a fraud, etc.
I thought my parents'rejection of me and what I needed in life was the cause on my ongoing addiction. I never knew that, at some point, I internalized their rejection of my ideas, needs and dreams and began judging myself constantly. It was my own self-rejection that continued to give life to my eating disorder and not my parents.
We will never please everyone, including our parents. It is hard to ignore the voices of our parents when they tell us our ideas are silly or our boyfriends are not good enough or our choice of careers is impractical or our hair should be brushed a different way. Some people are just in a very bad habit of pointing out what is wrong or living in fear and children of those individuals seem to carry on the tradition.
Unless, by good fortune or Grace, something like the 12 step process breaks the cycle. Through one 12 step program, I addressed and overcame all of my addictions, including bulimia. I am no longer compelled to eat and purge, nor do I struggle with food. I choose what I want to eat and I know when I am full. I never thought that would be possible for me.
I think when you learn what makes you spiritually full, you begin to get back in touch with your body. This doesn't mean I don't hear my parents' voices in my head anymore or that I always give myself the Love and Approval and Support I need. It simply means I am aware when I am off track and I know how to get myself back on track. I am not in control of what happens day to day but I can control how I react to life by leaning on the tools of the 12 step program.
The answer to the emptiness and pain of any addiction is learning how to tap into the Love in your heart and letting it out. No one can do this for you because no one lives in your body and can hear the whispers of your heart meant only for you.
All my best!
P.S. If you had one thing you could say to help someone else who is suffering in silence from an eating disorder, what would it be?