My last client of 2014 asked me when I thought she’d be done with therapy. I didn’t have a definitive answer for her, but alluded to the idea that as she is almost free from her binge eating behaviors we are doing good work and she may be getting close to moving on in a matter of months. This really freaked her out.
“Months?” she stammered. “How am I going to learn to be at peace with my body in a matter of months?”
Okay. So we were on different pages clearly. Truth is, she had already learned to be assertive with those who used to take advantage of her. She was beginning to date again thanks to online sites like Match.com and the like. She was even working with a head-hunter to get into a job she felt was more fulfilling. She was becoming the woman she wanted to be. But the thing she wanted to control most was her body, and living in the uncertain world of being in her own skin was just too overwhelming to comprehend.
Immediately her thoughts began to trace back to wanting to diet, compulsively exercise, and get back to what Thom Rutledge calls “negative certainty,” the short term comfortable solution that ultimately does us in. Instead, we have to think about the big picture, and understand we won’t really attain peace with ourselves, let alone our bodies, until we learn to let go of that need to be in control or in our comfort zone.
The more we practice the opposite, the more we grow. The more we grow, the more likely it will be that one day each of us will look back and see we’ve become the person we wanted to be. And it wasn’t some magical epiphany that got us there.
My client understood that time in therapy won’t help her achieve body acceptance, but rather it’s the start of her journey. The rest will be done away from my office over many years beyond getting her over her eating disorder. Peace, simply put, takes time … and effort.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 443-602-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.