Anorexia and Family Influences
Excerpt from Love Feast
by Roslyne Sophia Breillat
The seeds of anorexia are sown within the first moment a girl or young woman becomes aware she doesn’t have a life. They are sown within the first moment she realises she is not free to be who she is. As these seeds begin to flourish they enter her cells, infusing her psyche with their distorted misuse of power and their cunning ability to dictate her every action. From then on her body and her thoughts become an expression of non life, anti life, a silent, forceful and distorted rebellion against life.
Her silent rebellion is also against her family, for an essential part of her is being starved of the love she needs within her immediate environment. Although they are doing their best, the members of her family love her as they know love to be, through the layered distortions and habitual structures of society’s conditioning and the world’s ideas of personal love. This conditional loving is not the depth and freedom of love that she needs, craves or knows within her heart. It is alien to what she truly knows within but cannot express.
Anorexia can affect any girl or woman within a dysfunctional family situation. It mostly manifests through the gentlest and most sensitive child in the family. It is often the oldest sibling who is affected, as she is usually the one who is enduring the most pressure to aim for perfection and excellence. It is common for the anorexic girl to live within a familial atmosphere of academic striving, competition, achievement and ambition. Within the apparent security and solidarity of this structure, she is often encouraged to become the very best, the most perfect at everything she does.
This striving for perfection, excelling, and doing soon becomes a substitute for love, affection, attention, recognition and her only reason for living. This familial atmosphere quickly becomes deadening and distressing for her, stifling her true sense of vocation, innate flow of creativity and natural joy of being.
Although a part of her soon believes her only fulfilment lies within a relentless striving to become better than everyone else, beneath this powerful mental belief she feels worthless, hopeless, helpless, devoid of value. As she pushes herself beyond her inherent capabilities, she loses touch with her innate innocence, natural wellbeing and simple delight in life.
She loses touch with her body, her senses, her femaleness, her sensuality. She becomes ungrounded and she loses touch with the earth.
Woman is the natural custodian of food and she is the natural custodian of love. Her powerful capacity to nurture and give life from the flowing milk within her breasts, the crimson blood within her womb, the gentle curves of her body was honoured in ancient cultures as her powerful affinity with the Universal Mother. When she is united with her love, the flow of her feminine presence embodies softness, receptivity, openness, power, surrender.
Her psyche, her womb, her entire body are created to absorb, receive, gather love into the deepest parts of her being. Hers is a gentle yet powerful strength that enjoys nurturing, serving, giving. Her body is love and her being is love. Her body is the food that nurtures her lovers, her babies, her sisters, her family, her friends.
Her love is not naturally aligned with competition, ambition or projection. Modern society increasingly forces her to embody these masculine qualities as a substitute for its lack of sensitivity to her true purpose. This creates distortions within her feminine psyche that can quickly manifest the physical and emotional imbalances of eating disorders.
She competes because she doubts her beauty, her abilities, her power. She is subtly taught she will be loved if she becomes more intelligent, more beautiful, more underweight than her peers. She strives for perfection because there is nobody in her life to tell her she is already perfect enough as she is. She becomes busy, overworked, overactive because she is taught that being her true self is not good enough. She doubts her creative gifts and talents because she is taught they will not earn her a place in the “real” world.
Love is not a trophy she wins through competition, not a medal she is given through performing, not a prize she receives through being the very best, the most perfect in her class, her school, her family, her community. Love is the inherent nourishment she needs for simply being who she is, without reason, without criticism, without negativity, without compromise, without validation, without conditions, without shame or blame. Love is her food.
Anorexic symptoms manifest in her body when she can no longer cope with the falsity of her outer life and with others’ unreal expectations of her. Anorexic symptoms become obvious when the protective veil of her suffering becomes cracked, brittle, dysfunctional, worn out. They become apparent when her inner pain becomes too unbearable to face, too traumatic to feel, too difficult to integrate, too overwhelming, too intense, too real, too impossible to heal.
The immense force of this pain pushes her up and out of her body into her head. And this becomes the only place where she feels safe, secure and in control.
And here, in the realm of her mind, when she is feeling her most vulnerable, powerless, helpless, hopeless, the negative anorexic entity easily finds a way to sneak in, instantly taking over her psyche, her thoughts, her dreams, her feelings, her life.
Like those in her outer family environment who have always told her what to do, it now begins to tell her what to do from within her mind. Anorexia dictates and thrives from this place, for here it can rein supreme, destroying her love of life and her will to survive.
Through its seductive presence it tells her she will have immense power, she will have enormous strength if she listens to its permeating voice and follows its compelling instructions. It tells her she will reach ecstatic states of perfection if she counts calories, practises food combining, becomes a vegan or vegetarian, exercises excessively, diets, fasts, purges, starves, measures, weighs, controls.
It tells her she will be loved if she refuses all forms of nourishment, if she denies her every need. And it also tells her she does not deserve to have any of these needs fulfilled.
For anorexia’s survival depends entirely upon her emotional and physical starvation. It depends entirely upon her lack of power, her lack of worth and value, her declining emotional and physical strength. As long as she fasts, anorexia can voraciously feast upon her negativity, nourishing its cunning ways with the fading light of her diminishing life force, with the pale glow of her waning vitality.
As anorexia gains power over her, it becomes her captor, her mentor, her guru, her teacher, suffocating her where it wants and needs her, within the imprisoning confines of its controlling grip. It is now free to do whatever it desires with her as long as she willingly surrenders to its insidious misuse of power.
Through infiltrating her psyche this clinging parasite sees through her eyes, speaks through her voice, listens through her ears, thinks through her brain, lives through her belly, her womb, her heart.
Her shrinking body is no longer her own, for it now belongs to anorexia. So powerful is its demand for supremacy and its desire to merge with her essence that she soon believes she is this anorexia. It becomes her only identity, her only purpose, her only friend.
She soon believes she can no longer survive without its penetrating voice, its harsh instructions, and its cruel intent. She soon believes every nuance of its suicidal thoughts and its many intricate methods of deprivation. She soon loses all desire to survive, for anorexia’s survival becomes more important than her own. She soon loses her appetite for food, for love, for life, for any nourishment essential to her physical health and emotional wellbeing.
No longer able to digest, take in, absorb, receive, she surrenders to the inevitable, as anorexia’s negativity becomes her ruling power, her only reason for being alive. As she previously handed her life over to the controlling force of others’ expectations, she now hands her life over to the controlling force of anorexia.
When a girl develops an eating disorder her body is expressing negative emotional conditioning that has infiltrated her family for many generations. There is often a subtle and hidden quality to this complex conditioning, for it carries an unspoken promise, an unsworn oath of secrecy, a silent death wish. Like anorexia, it does not want to be seen for what it really is.
Her psyche has been symbolically turned inside out, as her emaciated physical form so graphically expresses the inner life of many generations of women, its control over her and the unbearable pain this is causing her.
She has taken in too much negativity and too many negative influences. She has taken in too much of others’ pain. She has lived too much through others’ expectations and she has lived her life to please those who live their lives through her. She has fed upon others’ suffering until it infiltrates her bones, her cells, her flesh.
She has become an unwilling victim at the banquet of suffering instead of a joyful participant at the feast of love and life. Like a belly stuffed with unpalatable food, she has become satiated with too many distasteful morsels of judgement, disrespect, criticism, dishonouring. Her cry to those around her now becomes, “If you don’t listen to me or allow me to freely express who I am then anorexia will become my expression and anorexia will speak for me and through me, even if it kills me.”
2009 © Roslyne Sophia Breillat
♥ Sophia is a woman who lives, writes and paints from the heart
♥ Website ~ www.wildheartwisdom.com
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