Relationships: Pro or Anti Anorexic?
DAVID EPSTON AND REBECCA
Well, this Bulimic come-back was short-lived and very edifying, was it not? You summed up the circumstances that brought Bulimia back into your life as not something seemingly out of the blue but rather it had to do “with when I want to voice something but instead get talked into things that I don’t agree with. I acquiesce”. You then provided me with a very recent example of this. “Jim and I were discussing our Christmas plans. We talked about it loosely and he had made up his mind to be in Christchurch. I had been hoping we’d be up here for New Years”. And that had a particular significance to you in that you had never spent New Year’s Eve together with your previous partner over the seven years of your relationship. As you put it, “It was really important to me”. However, “I didn’t say anything…I just agreed”. On reflection, you realised that “I was not voicing what I really would have liked” and not surprisingly, later than night, you were “shattered” by the return of Bulimia. But instead of being taken out to sea by Bulimia, “I stated straightaway what I wanted and there was no problem at all”. He said – ‘If it’s important to you, I’ll be there!’
This then led us onto considerations of what an anti-bulimic relationship might be and how it might be practised. So far, you said that “I haven’t really been that aware of making my relationship with Jim an anti-bulimic relationship”. We changed tact and wondered how this relationship could turn into a bulimic one. You thought that “I would invite anorexic/bulimic thinking into our relationship…I would always be doubting myself and fishing for reassurance”. On the other hand, you told me that Jim “thinks I’m wonderful” and that your friends are commenting that “he’s so much like you…so much more to your taste”.
We compared this relationship to your relationship with Lance. Here you “never felt important as a person” and looking back on it, are “shocked what I put up with…I wouldn’t stand for it now”. Rebecca, why wouldn’t you? What is there about this 1997 Rebecca that would not tolerate such a relationship? You went on to say that “I always felt he was testing me”. By that, Rebecca, were you never sure if you measured up? You added that “I felt less than my self which meant there was some mind room for Anorexia/Bulimia to come into my life”. Rebecca, does that mean if Bulimia were to try to make another come-back that that would be a sign that you were getting eroded away, one way or another? You summed up those 7 years of relationship history as “a perfect breeding ground for Anorexia/Bulimia…I don’t think I was respected”.
You then went on to describe yourself as “a different kind of person and I’ve attracted a different kind of person to me”. I asked for more details about your new person and you said – “I’m really outspoken.” Compare this: “Before, I tended not to say anything and let Bulimia take over.” You said too that you have a different order of significances for your life. For example, “I now really appreciate little things such as the scent of the Christmas tree, over flowers”. You considered you now have “a fuller life”. I enquire as to what bulimia gave significance to. I suppose your answers were no surprise to me. “How much I weigh! How I looked!” But you observed how Bulimia led you “into destructive relationships with men, men who would weigh me up and look me over”.
Rebecca, you then smiled and told me – “I can honestly say that now at 26, I like myself”. And when I asked what your mother’s response to your self-liking was, you guessed that “she gets real pleasure seeing this in me”. We then wondered if she had inspired you to speak out for yourself by speaking out for herself in her relationship with your father. You thought that you had “inspired each other to speak out”. You said how your mother had “smothered her desires to measure up to him…mum is so much more passionate about life now they have separated”. Isn’t it interesting that everyone “adores” Jim? Do you think their fondness for him has anything to do with having witnessed the effect on your life of your 7 year long relationship with Lance?
I then asked in general what would a young woman guard against in a relationship so that relationship wouldn’t be so welcoming of Bulimia. Your reply was astute: “You could guard against any part of you being taken away or not heard. That can happen so subtly. I have to be more vigilant and on guard. Self-policing would be a sign that this was happening. or comparing myself with other women. Weighing myself.. And the old Bulimic ways of thinking”. I enquired as to how your anti-Bulimic ways of thinking would operate here. “I would have some idea of who I am. I would know that I am worth getting to know. Before I was just on show. I was so obsessive about things that weren’t important. Now I’ve got perspective on things that are important”. “Such as?” I asked. “What my body needs and listening to these needs. Jim. My family”.
Rebecca, would you be willing to share this letter with Jim so you might put him in the ‘picture’ of how you might constitute an anti-Bulimia relationship and by the same token, make a Bulimic relationship. We discussed how your parent’s relationship was something of a template for relationships. And in theirs, you told me that “my father never took my mother seriously…never sponsored her. She supported him in everything he’s ever done”. Rebecca, would Jim be willing to support you to the same extent I suspect you are willing to support him? Or will it be ‘you be sensitive to me and I will be sensitive to myself’ relationship?
I look forward to finding out which way your Relationship will go. However, it seems to me that to ‘go against the grain’ of male-female relationships requires care and attention.