Living with Loss and ED, by Debbie Berlin-Romalis

When I practice therapy with women around issues of food and disordered eating, I often come across the theme of ‘Loss’.

Loss is being without someone or something that was loved, familiar, important or desired. Especially for children, a loss may be based on safety, trust, comfort, and familiarity, rather than on what adults speak of as love or affection. A loss can be of a person, a place, an animal, an object, or even a dream or a hope. Here are some ways to think about losses, specifically related to issues of trust and your eating disorder:

· Relationship loss
· Loss of a secure, familiar environment
· Loss of skills, abilities and competencies
· The death of family members and friends
· Being sexually, physically, and emotionally abused
· Witnessing someone murdered or raped
· Divorcing parents
· Living with alcoholic or abusive adults

Trust and Loss are highly personal and individualized experiences. The importance of trust and a loss is based on many things, including needs, desires, routines, presumed meanings and present and past experiences. Broken trust and loss are not only events – they exist within a process. When our life stories are interrupted in some way, by events, trauma or pain, the path through grief for any person can be a lifelong process of discovery.

Sometimes people think that if only they can get over their “trust issues”, or forget the past, they will be successful. Grief is a natural response to a loss. It cannot be minimized or trivialized. Forgetting doesn’t make it go away.

Recall a time when you have experienced broken trust and loss. Consider the following:

Were your feelings and experiences of loss recognized and/or validated?

How did you cope with the experience of broken trust? Is this when your ED started?

How have the experiences of broken trust and loss affected your self-esteem?

In order for you to trust someone, what needs to be in place?

As I say to all women I know, personally and professionally, we need to constantly surround ourselves with people who TRULY want what is best for us and help us to celebrate our growth and recovery.

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