What a difference a week makes

Last week, I was freaking out about the start of group therapy led by TNT.  Tonight was the second episode of Group Therapy, TNT-style, and it was much less intimidating than last week.  I wasn't quite looking forward to going--therapy is a positive experience, but it's not fun--but I wasn't freaking out, either.

Facing your fears sucks, and usually facing them results in this gradual ebbing of fear.  It usually happens so slowly, or over such long periods of time that you don't get to notice.

I noticed this week.

I still struggle with getting out of my head each week and really participating in the group.  I usually have comparison-itis, much of which is related to my own body image issues, and the rest of which has to do with how others are dressed, how they talk (ie, thinking I sound dumb when I open my mouth), if they work harder than me or have a cleaner house.  Things like that.  And it's all an excuse for me to find a big metaphorical stick with which to hit myself.

I'm guessing this isn't the point of the group.  Especially because I can compare and despair without driving for an hour and paying for group and individual therapy.  I know this has nothing to do with what everyone else has done, and much more to do with my own deep-seated feelings of inadequacy.  I'm starting to realize that I'm wasting much of my life beating myself up for things I have no control over, when there are really much more productive ways to use my time.  Like for the pointless navel-gazing I like to call blogging.

I think group will be good for me.  It's good to spend time with people who relate to what you're going through and can provide instant feedback.  I guess TNT knew what she was doing when she said that group would be good for me.

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Anonymous said...

I remember going to my first ED support group meeting and realizing that others had the same thoughts and feelings as mine. It sounds so obvious now, but back then, wow, what an impact that had on me. I got more from that group than from individual therapy (but then, my therapist didn't specialize in eating disorders). I can only imagine how helpful actual group therapy, led by a good ED therapist, would be. I look forward to hearing more from you about it.

hm said...

It's ok to sit quietly and just listen if that's what you need to do at first. You'll learn even if you just listen. But I would challenge you to speak up and tell the truth, about your insecurities and your comparison-itis- saying it out loud will make it lose some of its power. Like telling your mom about a bad dream you had- when you say it out loud, it begins to fade out of your head. I bet telling the other group members how you feel will cause some of those feelings to begin to fade.

Unknown said...

Considering how common it is for people with EDs to compare themselves to others, I'll bet everyone there has done the same thing. I think it's great you are doing this & getting something out of it. You are very brave.
Now, about this "pointless navel gazing" you call blogging - this is one of the least navel gazingy blogs I've read! It is full of point, as well as links to great research & real insight into your experience! It is far from pointless to me, & I'm sure others as well.

Rose said...

don't ya hate it when they're right?
oh those therapists...

Renee said...

I actually think comparison-itis is one of the benefits of group therapy. What I mean is, being in a group of other women really forces you confront those issues - the competition, the insecurity, the I-would-kill-for-her-thighs. I encourage you to voice those thoughts in your group since I am sure every other woman there is thinking them!

Cate said...

thank you for saying the fear ebbs. I really needed to hear that today :-) (really bad 'houston I have a problem' day!!) So, thank you...and I'm glad group is working so well for you!

Anonymous said...

I, too, so needed to hear this today. I have feared for so long that I'm stuck here. And right now I want so badly to define what this ED means for me. I start the clock over every single day, racing against myself, my body, other women whom I fear will out-do me. In what, I'm not sure. The competition is crippling, but against who am I competing? And coping with uncertainty shouldn't include the myriad of restrictive tools I lean on. Please continue to share this experience... pondering good outcomes to facing this demon is sometimes the thing that tips me toward hope.

Heather said...

I can absolutely relate to the comparison-itis. But like you so introspectively pointed out - it is merely a tool to keep us emotionally flogging ourselves and focusing on others. As long as we are keeping the focus on other people and what we lack - we don't have to practice self-acceptance. It is an incredible diversion tactic that we've been practicing so long it's become second nature.
Compare and despair, it truly is. I almost wrote: “For some of us, it will be a life-long struggle for self-acceptance” but the more I think and reframe it – I realize – it is a journey of self acceptance. The insecurity and inadequacy we feel – the “not being enough” feeling wouldn’t be quelled even if I was thinner, more successful, more attractive, (fill in the blank of whatever we wish we WERE, that we believe we are NOT and think would make being US so much better.) In these moments, all I can do is PRACTICE self acceptance. It's not familiar or natural and it feels uncomfortable because I'm used to always "DOING" and "FIXING" - used to focus being narrowed to a problem and precise solution. I've also been practicing repeating that I need to keep the focus on myself. When I feel it drift and begin the litany of comparisons - I try to bring myself back to center. I was always told about things in my life I could not change: You don't have to like it, but you do have to accept it.

I am so grateful for your sharing and words - always.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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