Healthy Body Image and Trauma
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Thinking today about body image and trauma. Most of us who struggle with body image have not received what we needed as children. As a result, I believe we either over exercise or over eat/ under eat. I think eating disorders are the flip side of having trouble maintaining a healthy weight. Maybe, as children, we didn't have good role models for taking care of ourselves or having a healthy body image. We aren't born knowing how to take care of our physical and mental health. We learn it from our role models. It is not our fault if we did not learn healthy habits as a child or, worse, experienced trauma. I know that many people who are obese were abused as children. Being overweight can be a protective response to being sexualized or abused as a child.
In my family of origin, it was always really important for my mother to stay fit and trim. Even at 74 years old, I think she is thinner than I am at 49 years of age. I didn't have an eating disorder as a teenager and young adult, but I did obsess about my food intake. When I got depressed, I lost weight and I liked being super skinny. I also have a history of managing anxiety and depression by over exercising instead of processing my feelings.
My hope for you, dear reader, is that you will be gentle with yourself. Adults who were shamed and traumatized as children can be super critical of themselves. I grew up with very critical parents who did not encourage me and my siblings to feel and express our feeling. So I developed an extremely mean inner voice. My older brother ended up in an emotionally abusive relationship and my twin sister lived with an abusive alcoholic for too many years. My twin is also a hoarder with very poor health. Thankfully, my siblings have gotten out of those damaging relationships. I was the 'problem' child in the (unacknowledged) problem family. I have suffered from crippling depressions throughout my life. My sister and I also both have generalized anxiety disorder.
Ironically, my mom and stepdad were therapists (stepdad, a clinical psychologist and mother a social worker). The plumbers kids have leaky faucets!
Anyway, thanks for reading and I wish you kindness for yourself, wherever you are on this journey.