Today I learned that a client I’ve been treating for a chronic, long-term eating disorder will not be returning to therapy. She does not feel hopeful and cannot go on with treatment. She is an adult and gets to choose whether to keep struggling or to stop treatment when she feels exhausted. The suffering of a long-term eating disorder is intense, chronic, and sometimes incurable. Facing this tragic moment, I find renewed resolve to stay involved in eating disorders prevention with The Body Positive.
The grief my clients face, losing a year of their lives or two years or twelve to their blinding preoccupation with their bodies, is so tragic. Their losses are so profound, the waste of potential so overwhelming. I do the best that I can in my clinical work, bringing a whole host of beautiful resources from The Body Positive and even so, sometimes, people don’t get well. It’s hard to overcome an eating disorder, especially if it’s been going on for years and years. I feel deeply saddened about my dear client’s suffering. Each morning in my meditation practice I send her kindness and hold her in my heart. I do not blame her for being too tired to continue. I send kindness to her parents, I know their suffering is terrible.
I keep my sights focused upstream, to address the causes and conditions that lead to these horrible disruptions in healthy embodiment and I feel deeply gratified to be part of the solution. I stay steady in my vision of a world without body hatred and eating disorders. I know from experience that reaching young people with our Be Body Positive messages, before they start an eating disorder or even in the first year of suffering, is a gift and a blessing and can prevent a chronic eating disorder. Learning to listen to the authority of their own bodies can prevent years of pain, huge losses, and maybe even an early death.
I am grateful for the work with The Body Positive because it nourishes my hope and confidence and keeps me in shape to continue sitting with clients who are in dark places. I know it is possible to help a client recover, to intervene early, and to prevent an eating problem in the first place, and this keeps me focused on possibility in times of sadness and loss. Instead of sinking into despair, I am nourished by contributing to positive change. I am helping people to turn away from self-loathing and focus on making positive change in their own lives and in the world, and that is what this dear world needs.
Recently, I've been seeing Body Positive messages popping up in films, advertising, literature, everywhere. I feel a sea change happening in our culture. These days it’s pretty hard not to have heard of intuitive eating, the idea that you can accept your body, and that diversity in body shape and size is part of human beauty. Everywhere I look I see someone talking about protecting and celebrating diverse bodies. The word is spreading, we are making progress. So many people will have an opportunity to avoid a terrible disruption in their development of a vital relationship to their bodies. These are the signs that give me hope and soothe my heart, which is tired from the suffering in my clinical work and in the world.
So I accept the choices my adult clients make. I lean on the counsel of experienced providers like Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani for advice and I keep on keeping on, one day at a time, with good self-care, spreading kindness into the world. I am deeply grateful to all of you who are reading this message for the work you are doing to bring inner peace to yourself and others. We are a community and a force for healing. I am grateful for your support.