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Achilles’ Heels

Posted Nov 26 2009 12:00am

I am learning to recognise my Achilles’ heels.

I have quite a few of these painful sore spots that, previously, would have driven me to bingeing – or some other equally destructive distraction – but I am now becoming better acquainted with.

The eating-disorder-provided relief was evidently a temporary fix and a bit of an illusion: the only way to sort out an Achilles heel is to tackle the source of the pain and work out what’s really going on – which is often something quite small that has festered into something quite big

It is only recently that I have started to recognise – and understand – the relationship between a trigger – and the button that is being pressed.

When I crumble under a small and innocuous comment, it’s not necessarily the comment that’s provoking the reaction; it’s what the comment is reminding me of.

If a slight turn of the head or an almost imperceptible expression pushes me into a state of panic, or despair, or overwhelming rage; my over-reaction is not, necessarily, about that instance: it’s about all the baggage and the associations behind it.

An eating disorder likes these little weak spots.

It takes advantage, when you’re looking for something else to focus on.

It covers what’s really going on, so you don’t deal with the source – until, of course, you take away the covering and realise that you’ve just trapped the infection.

This has been what’s happened in my recovery . The spots of sensitivity have risen to the surface and I have been forced to sit through the discomfort and probe the pain.

I’d advise a little support in this activity.

It kind of hurts – but it’s taking away any weak points for the eating disorder to re-enter by.

So, each time I have reacted a little disproportionately to a fleeting look or a passing comment or an event that, in the grand scale of things, is not that big; I’ve had to ask myself, what’s really going on? I’ve had to push myself to think about how I am feeling – and what else has made me feel like that?

Sometimes, it’s easy to identify the origin – the disappointment at the first negative entry in the end of year report or the sense of inadequacy in not making the netball team grade – and, you can go back with adult wisdom and put it in perspective.

Sometimes, you can find the start, but it’s still a little tender –the underhand comments that made you feel inadequate or one of those horribly embarrassing moments that still make you go prickly hot – and, then, you might not be able to make the feeling better; but, you can, at least, give it a passing nod, and put your current behaviour into an emotional context.

And, sometimes, there isn’t a trigger point or an associated Achilles heel: you’re just having a bad day, which is normal, and will pass.

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