Letter to Dory 
Truly, events of the last few weeks and its recent resolution are of great interest to the League, wouldn’t you say? So let me review this in some detail.
You said that you “didn’t feel a lot after the session with mum…I was pissed off about the whole thing”. On reflection, you thought that “now I feel a bit sorry….I was in another place…..I felt untouchable and superior there”. And for that reason, you “didn’t get much out of the session”. But your anti-anorexia was at work for “early this week, I realized ironically that I was being controlled by her (anorexia) over this past month”. You thought that it had to do “with having so much to deal with” that you felt that “I had to be so in control”. And then it dawned on you, like the sun rising and dispelling the darkness of night, that “BULIMIA HAD PUSHED ME INTO ANOREXIA”.
This was not new but what was novel was that “I was one tiny step ahead of it this time”. When I enquired-“How?” you replied, “I was still here…my mind was here…I realized I had been tricked but it took until Thursday”. You informed me of the clues that led you to question the trick and then see through it for what it was- “I was starting to avoid food situations and social situations”. Then you acted against anorexia’s famine regime and started to eat but on this occasion, something else was novel: “I was trying to talk myself through it….I didn’t eat shit food…..I concentrated on the act of eating….I was saying to myself, It is okay. No one was saying that I shouldn’t eat!” Dory, that is everyone that cares about you versus one who wants you dead- anorexia, also know as (aka) bulimia. Dory, you had to admit that this was a great test of your anti-anorexia. And it was not over yet as you were to discover. “The next morning, I felt shitty. I had blown it”. But yet again, you questioned the anorexic allegation that “I had blown it”. It was at this point in your anti-anorexia that “I got this realization. I was back in the cycle, setting myself up to fail”. Or was anorexia setting you up to fail? Dory, you interrupted the feast-famine cycle, the misery-go-round you know so well. Still, it was tempting you to hide, go into isolation, keep away from everybody but instead, you avowed- “NO WAY. I’M GOING TO HAVE LUNCH”. And here you came up with what some anti-anorexic firsts- “I have never given myself a treat without feeling guilty”. What you told me you did instead was- “I recognized what my desires were, satisfied them and haven’t felt guilty”. And you went on to conclude something that I wonder if isn’t a critical discovery- “I’ve been able to recognise the difference between satisfying my desires and ‘being out of control’. And to make your point, you told me you had a Magnum(a chocolate-coated ice cream) which as you put it, “was a real desire I had. I had it and didn’t feel I was naughty”. You summed up this discovery by saying – “I recognise bulimic thoughts from anti-anorexic thoughts. It is really important to distinguish between the two”.
On behalf of the League, Dory, can I ask you some questions to assist you to elaborate on this discovery and to make it more widely available to others whose lives may depend on it:
- Do you think anyone will go free of anorexia(aka bulimia) for very long if they cannot distinguish between the two- anti-anorexia and the way it supports your mindfulness and bulimia and the it takes over your mind and supports your mindlessness?
- What groundwork do you think you have been doing over the last few months that paved the way for you to make these stunning discoveries, given you are currently dealing with the aftermath of surgery and your concerns for your father’s well-being (a recent diagnosis of cancer)?
- Do you think this is a major breakthrough against the anorexic stranglehold over your life?
- Would you be willing to elaborate on this discovery? To assist yourself in this process, you might consider responding to a query like this- ‘how would you advise the Dory who was unable to make this distinction to have the self-same stunning discovery you had last week?
This led to more self-care, especially in relationship to your post-surgery body. You have once again renewed your concern for your body. And you made “a deal with myself to deal with bulimia by not purging”. When I asked how you were keeping true to your anti-anorexic intentions here, you told me that ‘I am talking to myself. I am encouraging myself. I am gritting my teeth and doing it. I have decided my body image isn’t so important!” And that it wasn’t just a once either: “I have to KEEP giving myself little talks. I can get carried away so quickly”. Dory, do you think the moment you stop speaking up for yourself, anorexia will do your speaking and/or thinking? Dory, is this a matter for a kind of aerobics of the mind and spirit? Do you s sense you are getting your mind back into working shape? And is it even possible that anorexia will try to get you to have a PERFECT MIND with PERFECT THOUGHTS and thereby condemn you to perpetual failure?
When I asked what was behind all this, you came up with some very interesting thoughts. You thought it had a lot to do with “being kind to myself about what I deserve”. When we tried to find a good expression for this development, we hit upon SELF-APPRECIATION. And you said that you were “drawing on the experiences of the last few months for me, Dad and my family. I won’t intentionally make my life or my father’s life worse. I will make my life enjoyable. I don’t want to do down that road to bulimia again for them as well as FOR ME!”. Whatever, all this led what you referred to “a change of attitude” and ever since then you have been standing your ground.
Your summary was as follows- “The whole thing has been self-denial and trickery. I don’t feel overwhelmed by bulimia anymore. I can get out and fight back quickly”. When it had a stranglehold on your life, how long would it take you to recover from a ‘loss’ and have a come-back and renew your anti-anorexic initiatives? And you consider that self-kindness “was a form of anti-anorexic revenge” in that instead of bulimia requiring you to take revenge against yourself by way of self-torture, self-punishment or self-denial, etc., you took revenge on it.
We then thought it was time to catalogue your developments in the direction of self-respect and they were legion, even though you had to admit that “I’ve had to work it and IT’S HARD WORK!” Firstly, you thought that getting your independence was important; secondly, “making fairly substantial decisions”, thirdly, “taking risks”, fourthly, “not relying on my parents so much”, fifthly, “relying on myself even though it tells me ‘I’m a failure….all your good work has been for nothing, etc”, and sixthly, “enforced solitude” has made you take some time for yourself with yourself. You considered that this has permitted you “to get to know myself. I’m not as bad as bulimia tells me. I’m quite an interesting, kind and trustworthy person”. (So what else is new!!!) You could see how your self-respect is coming through in your relationship with Jim and has led to “a different feeling between us..I don’t take everything personally anymore”. And interestingly enough, you no longer “make everything my fault”. You have found some ‘measuring sticks’ for an anorexic/bulimic attack on your- i) busyness, ii) isolation, iii) “making excuses or avoiding food situations”. In general, you thought you were living through some “exciting times”.
When I asked what bulimia talks you that you consider is relevant to scrutinize, you came up with some tried and true bulimic allegations- “how should I look? “what should I fit into?” “what kind of life I should have?”
Here were your final words- “I am more interesting now that I ever have been. I want to be happy with myself and get my old habits back around food. I am letting go. I am really trying to find out what my desires are, event though it tells me they are naughty. But I am more aware now that I ever have been. It tricks you into self-denial under the guise of a diet”.
I look forward to reviewing these developments with you next time.