I’ve talked on this blog about how I recently started therapy. I’ve dabbled in the past, but I was never honestly serious about quitting bulimia. So, the therapy was doomed to fail, even if I hadn’t lied my way through. When I decided to begin therapy this time, I promised myself that I wouldn’t lie. At all. If I’m paying for this thing, I should do my best to make it work.
My first experience with therapy was in college, when I realized I had an abnormally traumatic childhood. My family didn’t believe in asking for help (we literally picked up and moved when my dad had mental problems, just abandoning our lives in one state and starting new ones in another), and they certainly didn’t believe in therapy (after all, if you can’t pray away your problems, your faith must be weak). So, I went, nervously, to the student counselors at my undergraduate university. These were students in their first counseling sessions… and, they had a lot to learn. The therapist gave me crayons and paper and asked me to draw my family at a table. I was done at that very moment. I knew what she wanted me to draw (separation! no smiles! no personal attributes, just emotionless stick figures!), and I knew then that I had the upper hand in reading the proverbial room. So, that didn’t work out.
My next experience was in graduate school, when I realized the bulimia was here to stay and I couldn’t control it. I was also being sexually harassed by my major teacher; nothing was ever physical, but my current therapist says it was absolutely emotional and psychological abuse. In any case, I went to group therapy for eating disorders led by a morbidly obese counselor who was barely mobile. She asked us if we had any issues having an obese woman counsel us about eating disorders. I lied and said no.
When I started teaching at this university, some 10 years after these failed experiences, I was struggling with being 1000 miles apart from my husband, who was in a medical residency. I was also struggling with being in a totally new state, all by myself. So, I tried out the free sessions for faculty, and I was relatively honest with the new therapist about my bulimia and my anxiety. The problem was that I didn’t REALLY want to get rid of my ED… not quite yet. And, I knew that. She did not.
In October of this year, my husband and I went on a quick weekend trip to a cabin in the mountains. We enjoyed some great meals, and I panicked and reminded myself I couldn’t throw up. The fact that it was so hard on such a beautiful weekend made me start reading some blogs and books on bulimia recovery. They all stressed that this recovery cannot be done alone. Since I wasn’t planning on telling my husband anytime soon, I figured I’d better hire someone to be my “someone.” I emailed a few people randomly, and I decided to go to the first person who emailed back with an opening. She might not be the best therapist, or even the best therapist for me. But, whatever we’re doing seems to be working, at least for now. So, I’ll keep doing the work. Find someone–anyone. Day 13.