Personal Reflection: GWEN
Last week, I had a challenge meal session with my client Mimi. When she began treatment, Mimi was afraid to eat in restaurants or even in front of others. Today she is able to eat at any restaurant, and is doing well in her recovery, but when eating with friends she often under eats or slides backwards in some way. Mimi’s intention for the meal outing was to make it challenging for herself by ordering something she loves but has been too afraid to order (panini) and she also agreed that I could add a few advanced challenges as well.
After she ordered her lunch, and it was my turn, I ordered a small salad, no croutons, with diet dressing on the side. She knew ahead of time that I was going to challenge her, but she didn’t know exactly what I would do or say. Even though she knew I was only doing it to trigger her, it was still very difficult for her to tolerate and she was uncomfortable, but not so uncomfortable she couldn’t get through it and eat her food. The situation was just enough to challenge her and give her the opportunity to practice responding from her Healthy Self. We processed her thoughts and feelings and came up with healthy self-statements she could say at other times when this happens. Here are the things she came up with:
1. I’ve already been down that road. I know where it leads and I do not want that anymore.
2. I do not want to let others control what I eat.
3. If I just eat what she is eating, I will be hungry in an hour and there won’t be any food.
4. I do not know how hungry others are, or what others have eaten today, or will eat. Comparing makes no sense.
5. Others are on their own path. I need to remember to stay on mine.
6. What others eat is none of my business. I need to keep my eyes on my own plate.
Even though I knew Gwen was going to trigger me at the lunch outing, it still freaked me out. It was SO triggering. My eating disorder voice was screaming at me. I felt irritable and anxious, and I wasnt sure if I was going to be able to eat what I ordered when it came. Talking about it helped. It took me out of my head, anyway. Knowing it was part of the therapy made it a lot easier. I knew it was practice for me. My mom is always ordering a half salad, and I get so mad at her because it makes me scared and then I do not want to eat anything and we start arguing and things get ugly. This gave me the experience of feeling all of those feelings and then being able to still do what I needed to do for myself.
This was literally the first time I have ever been able to do that, and it gave me hope that I can do it next time with someone else. I’m almost looking forward to it, just to prove to others and myself I have progressed. I know I said I never wanted to do that again, but I changed my mind. I think I’m ready for another challenge meal session.
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