Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Not Me; It's You

In Life Without Ed, writer and eating-disorder sufferer, Jenni Schaefer, crafts a declaration of independence from her disorder, which she cleverly anthropomorphizes to be, just, "Ed." In it, she declares:
Jenni, therefore, solemnly publishes and declares that she is free and independent; that she is absolved from all allegiance to Ed, that all connection between Ed and her ought to be totally dissolved, and that as a free and independent woman she has the full power to eat, live in peace, and to do all other acts and things which independent people do.
Our version? The break-up letter? Ever broken up with someone via letter, email, or text? Now's your chance (and trust me, you'll need more room than a post-it note provides). You'll need to explain why you're ending this (potentially) seemingly good relationship. Your task: write a letter to your scale, your mirror, your calorie-counting conscience, the part of you that mentally and physically abuses YOU, that causes YOU to restrict or binge, that causes YOU to hate your body, which is also part of YOU, and that has likely been doing this for years, obscuring the real YOU, and preventing YOU from being as independent, happy, and fulfilled as YOU deserve to be.

Dump him. He wasn't that good of a kisser, anyway.


PalmTreeChick said...

Wow, I hope I never get that assignment from my T. Not that it's not a good assignment, I just don't want to do it. It's bad enough I had to keep an "FFJ." (Food and feelings journal).

-Jen- said...

I have to admit that I hate the letter writing assignments. I always feel like a huge dork when I have to do that.

Rachel said...

Same here, Jen. I always rolled my eyes at those assignments because I felt they were juvenile. Maybe it works for a teen, but for an adult woman it feels patronizing.

Sarah said...

I did this for Al in rehab -- it was great actually. Wonder if I'll ever want to do it to Ed!

ps22 said...

While I understand the feeling that many writing tasks feel strange, or "patronizing" as rachel said, these simple tasks are often very helpful to people. When tasks are too complex or complicated, people don't follow through with them or aren't consistent with them (at least I don't to be perfectly honest).
Though something such as this may seem childish, simple writing can help increase self-awareness and be very cathartic. I have found that the most therapeutic tasks are often those that push me to confront my emotions in a very clear way, are anxiety-provoking, and make me "feel like a huge dork." :)

friendlyguy said...

I'd have to see about stuff like that myself. You know the usual "shape and shop shlup" routine? No boner..

But, we'd say, we'd have to do that.. Not that I'm with you already..

Lovely design!!

mumboj said...

The 'guy' is the attempts to control your eating. Your mind doesn't make you binge it is the other way around. Instead of working with it,you think you can bully it, when it was designed to do it's job, even if you feel it is falling down, you must use creativity and be kind, if you don't then you wind it up. Stupid.

Sarah said...

I'd have to address that letter to my friends, my family, my boyfriend, everyone on the television, everyone on the 'net... everyone I've ever met, really. Seems kinda impractical to break up with all of them.

cggirl said...

Ha! Nice idea.

Here's mine to my scale:
I understand that your function in life is to measure mass, and good luck with that, but I don't see why it's important what I weigh. I am not a sack of rice being sold at the market.
Therefore, I no longer feel it is beneficial for us to have such a close relationship.
I might visit you every one or two months just to say hello, or I might forget about you completely, who knows. In any case, if our visits indicate that my weight has changed I have no intention of dieting or freaking out. This is not a comment on your weighing abilities so please do not be offended.


Also, a sort of in-person thing that was sorta on this topic (I think):

I had to say to a certain person in my life, who I won't specify here so as not to hurt their feelings, something like this:

"My weight and what I eat are no longer topics for discussion between us." (I had to say this on more than one occasion till it stuck.)
If you continue on this topic I will leave" (and yes, when the issue was pursued I did leave, in the middle of dinner or some such social gathering - I calmly left and when called on the phone I explained I'd been quite clear and we can try to get together again sometime and hopefully then my boundaries will be respected).

I also said to this person: "I understand that you think you're trying to help me, but first of all, you are not - just accept that. And secondly, it seems to me this is more about you and your justification of all those years of restriction and obsession on your part. After all, for you to accept my new outlook on things would be to admit you might have been wasting your energy.
And of course if you disagree with me about yourself and feel that your outlook works for you, great, you do your thing and I will do mine."

Aaanyway... it's not a breakup letter with a person but with a certain aspect of our relationship, and it was successful, even though I had to repeat it eventually it stuck. This is a person I wanted in my life and who I really couldn't cut out of my life, and so removing this part of our relationship was a wonderful thing, it enabled the rest of our relationship to blossom.

Sorry to go on and on, i just thought this might interest someone or speak to someone going through things similar to what i went through.

drstaceyny said...

ptc--you don't have to, but you can do it w/out totally believing it, just so you know.

jen--that's ok--it's not your thing, perhaps.

rachel--I've actually done this assignment w/older adults (though, it was in person), and they really got into it. Not meant to be patronizing at all (I'd do it myself).

sarah--Ed's just as bad as Al.

ps--I agree--I think writing can be incredibly therapeutic. I've kept a journal for years. Research shows that the simple act of writing someting out can be, as you note, cathartic, and that people feel better after writing w/out doing anything else.


mumboj--again, huh? Maybe it's just too early in the morning for me, but I don't understand either of these comments. Sorry!

sarah--I'd say it's better to do to the your eating/body issues themselves, not to their originators.

cg (aka "not a sack of rice ; ))--great letters! I hope other readers can benefit from them. I especially like the idea of breaking up w/an "aspect of your relationship--really, you're just asserting yourself and changing/eliminating a particular dynamic that didn't work for you. Bravo!

Rachel said...

Ps22 & Dr. Stacey:

I'm not discounting the exercise for some people; I'm sure it is helpful. I'm just saying that for myself, it felt patronizing when my therapist suggested it. I do believe writing is cathartic and very therapeutic, and is something I credit my recovery with. I just didn't take to this exercise in particular.

PalmTreeChick said...

I think it's probably a good exercise for some. I think I don't like it b/c I'm not ready to give things up, but your right Doc, you can do things w/o believing them b/c then you start to believe them, or so they say.

ps22 said...

Rachel-totallly understandable. We all have exercises (mental and physical) we take to and others we don't. Heck - I've tried yoga 15 times and I just can't seem to get into it and still don't get the hype! I give you props for giving this particular exercise a shot at some point. To each his own, right? ;)

PalmTreeChick said...

PS, I'm with you about the yoga. I can't sit still for one second, never mind all that breathing. I took a class once and was laughing at everyone and their loud breaths. I need to be running around, not sitting still, though I know it's good for ya.

nettes said...

"You'll need to explain why you're ending this (potentially) seemingly good relationship."

HMMMMM Dr. Stacey, I never realized it was good at
I always had more troubel getting out of the bad relationships with the loser guys. I always feel sorry for them and can't let Maybe that is my problem. Anyway love reading your blog1

Emily Jolie said...

What a great idea! And, hmmm, that little voice - the voice that is resisting letting go - is piping up in the back of my head, and saying, But he WAS a great kisser!!! I know it's going to take a little more convincing for that little voice.

Thank you for reminding me of a very strong parallel to Ed, which is bringing the question back up for me, What is this REALLY about??

I always so enjoy your posts! I'll make it a point to come around here more often again!

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful NY fall!

with love,


Spectra said...

I should do this, even though on the surface it kind of sounds silly. Part of my problem was even admitting that I had an "Ed" in my life, but I do and it's definitely time to break up. Hey, it'll give me more time to do important make out with my husband! :)