Parents of those affected by ED tend to take an ultimately defensive stance that seems to pass through stages: unaware, suspicious, denial, frightened, acceptance, caregiver and then finally advocate. There is no scientific data reflected here, just observation and experience.
As one passes through the phases, the gravity of the condition affecting our children becomes more and more clear. This is not a phase or a temporary situation. This is a life long struggle that our children will need to battle for their entire lives.
The role of caregiver is the first point at which you will take an active role and is a slippery slope. You will want to manage every aspect of his or her life protecting them from anything that could negatively affect self-esteem. This may be exactly what your child needs as they begin understanding their condition, keep in mind that you also need to begin preparing your child to grow into a self-sufficient and strong adult.
As your child begins to take an active role in their treatment, the parent begins migrating to the role of advocate. This is where you will begin to back away allowing your child to learn self-management You will begin to provide more of a supportive role by encouraging them during periods of struggle and setbacks rather than preventing these events. It is a difficult step to take but essential to your child’s self-sufficiency.
I recently read a comment where a victim of ED stated that although she was in her sixties and had not had a significant issue in many years, she was not recovered, she was in recovery. Much like other more mainstream conditions, ED recovery is a continuous process, not a finite program.
There is a growing recognition of the depth and wide spread impact of ED. As a result, there is a growing body of knowledge about causation and treatment. One recurring theme is that the victim of ED must accept responsibility for their own recovery. Others will help, guide and support but they must own their role in the process.
“Mommy, am I pretty?”
“No honey, you’re beautiful”
My daughter was confused and was only wanting to know if she was pretty; if she was like the little girl on TV who mommy had called her pretty. Of course she was pretty but beyond that, I saw beauty.
I told her that when you walk through a field, you see a lot of pretty flowers. When you lean close and look at the folds of the petals, the detail of the center, smell the faint scent from the heart; you see beauty.
When you look at the sunset and see lots of colors, it’s pretty. When you pause and look at the changing shades of red, orange pink as the suns slowly sets; you see beauty.
When I look into your eyes and see your amazing soul shining through; I see beauty.
Add up all of the times that self-doubt made you hesitate; made you pause instead of doing what we wanted to do. Include the times that you avoided a situation because you felt you didn’t quite fit in or were afraid of being rejected. Don’t forget the people that could have been friends if you had been brave enough to talk, the job you might have gotten, romance you might have had and the team we might have made. The avoided events add up to a lot of missed chances for an additional moment of happiness that you missed.
What does it cost to change? Nothing but believing in yourself. Believing in yourself is the most enduring form of beauty and it costs nothing. It defeats critics, it overcomes obstacles and it lasts a lifetime. Say it:
I am Beautiful
I am Confident
I AM FEARLESS!
Say it again and again. Write it on your mirror. Make it the background on your phone and your computer. Make it the backdrop of your life.
Don’t look in the mirror, we are our own worst critic. Look at someone else’s favorite photograph of you. They love it because it captures more than your looks, it captures you. Whether it’s a picture of you being silly or serious, smiling or making a face; it shows something beyond your looks. It shows something your friend sees in you that they like, something beautiful.
Back when you were heading off to your first day of school and your mother said “You’re going to love it”. That was an affirmation and coming from your mother, it had strength that helped you cope with the fear of a new experience. We all have periods of self-doubt, waning confidence. Remember stepping up to a podium to make your first ever speech in high school. When faced with a similar situation again, pause and repeat “I will be great”. It may not make you into a great orator, but if repeated again and again, you will feel and do much better.
Affirmations have strength. They remind us of our potential and help us find courage when needed. Self-affirmation means finding those affirmations that help us to be what we want, not what others may see us as.
Find your affirmations, the ones that speak to your doubts and give you strength. Write them on your mirror and repeat it to yourself every time you see it.