What Surprisingly Helped Me Heal from My Eating Disorder

close up image of woman with eyes closed, she has long curly red hair, peach eye shadow and lipstick, and long dangly moon earrings, for the article about learning to heal from my eating disorder

Eating disorders are always so much more than what they appear to be. At the surface it seems they’re just about food. But if you take a peek beneath the surface, you’ll find it’s so much more complex than that. If you were to take a look at my internal world a few years ago, you’d discover I was deeply ashamed of needing anything at all. I treated my needs like the Dursleys treated Harry Potter— I shoved them in the cupboard under the stairs and tried to keep them quiet. This internal conflict showed up in several different areas of my life. But this wound was especially apparent in my relationship with food. Little did I know one day I would credit Mother Nature for helping me heal from my eating disorder.

My Hunger

I’d sneak food into my room because I didn’t want people to see the extent of my hunger. Other days I’d see how long I could go without meeting my need to eat. When I started healing, I had to feel how deeply disgusting I found this part of myself. One of my mentors and teachers, Dr. Sam Rader, helped me understand that my hunger had become a symbol of the part of me that is small and vulnerable. I’d learned somewhere along the way that this part of me was bad. It was impossible to imagine that anyone would enjoy nourishing me and that my needs wouldn’t hurt them.

How Mother Nature Helped Me Heal From My Eating Disorder

I’ve since unraveled this belief and reworked it into a belief system that serves me. One of the ways I did this was by spending time in nature. I started a garden and while I tended to it, I meditated on who I imagine Mother Nature to be. I picture her like a goddess, with flowing white garments and joyfully loving on her children. 

I’d let myself imagine her holding me and not judging me while she joyfully gifted me the herbs that grew in my backyard. I let the love fill me and satisfy me. I know it sounds super woo-woo, but this is my true experience and one of the most powerful medicines I received during my recovery. 

As a psychoanalytic therapist, I know that the way we are in one area of our life is how we are in every area. Dr. Sam Rader helped me see that I had been playing the role of a superhero by pretending not to need anything. As a result, I found myself in situations and relationships where it felt necessary to neglect myself. My wound became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Mother Nature is All Around Us

The more time I spent meditating and envisioning Mother Nature’s kind eyes, the more I started seeing her in the people in my life. My relationships transformed and I let myself take off the cape.

I became a fully fleshed out human being instead of a two-dimensional character who doesn’t need anything.

Not only is my relationship with food so much better, but so are my relationships. I share this because I desire for everyone to be fed and satisfied. It’s possible and it’s okay if you don’t believe it now. I’m confident that one day you will—because it’s true.

There’s enough love for all of us. 

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