The exercise in therapy was an interesting one – Jackie had them bring in a childhood photograph of themselves so they could connect with the vulnerability of childhood. Not surprisingly, the pictures evoked childhood patterns about food and weight. Joe's love of cheeseburgers may be less about cheeseburgers and more about dad. A photo of little Stacy recalled the cruel criticisms of a grandmother. Nikki's self-loathing was revealed in her characterization of her childhood self as the "little fat girl." When we see our own childhood pictures, we see someone who may be "pre-pain," who hasn't yet experienced hurts we know will come, who hasn't developed harmful habits.
Jackie and I keep trying to move these clients into the present – to be present when they exercise and when they eat. All of us have the freedom of choice, but we can only exercise that freedom if we acknowledge our past. At some level, losing weight means letting go of the past. The best way to let go of the past is not to deny it, but to invite it in, and see that it does not rule us.
Time for you to weigh in: Will the escalating tension between Joe and Shay come to an explosive head? Will Nikki's willingness to delve into her past pain help to extinguish her self-destructive patterns such as showing up late and treating alcohol as a food group? At this point – who do you think is going to lose the most weight?
What about you? What life lessons would you want to impart to the " 6 year old you?" When you look back at childhood, what lessons about food did you learn that you wish you could undo?
And I couldn't let the rice pudding thing pass. Figures that a client in a weight loss therapy group likened the psychologist to food (by the way – he's not that far off – I smell like vanilla and cinnamon). Until next week...