Boundaries, family and eating disorders
Belonging to a family is much like belonging to a grammar
school, Junior High, High School and College.
One is taught lessons about life, the world and themselves and then
graduate on to the next level. However, the problem with some eating disordered
families is that they are at times over protective, controlling and
intimidating, which does not cultivate an environment to learn and grow in. The
result is we have a family member who is stuck in grammar school when they
really need to be in college. However, the dynamics of the individuals family
don’t allow for growth. Here we’ll go over some simple verbal communication
skills that will help an individual to grow out of an eating disorder.
Honesty– Most families have a “theme”. A common
denominator that keeps everyone together; sometimes it’s sports, dance, music,
charity work, intelligence, success etc… What do you think happens when someone
doesn’t align with the family theme? They are regarded as the ‘Black Sheep’ of
the clan. The Black Sheep sometimes isn’t even a far cry from the family and at
times, acts as if they are happy in the family while on the inside they are
screaming to get out. In order to protect ones own identity everyone needs to
be able to communicate their emotions honestly to their family members, such
as, “Thank you for offering to pay for
an entire year of dance classes for me, but I really want to focus on soccer.”
Sometimes families don’t agree and they have every right to be honest with us,
but they can’t be honest with us, unless we are first honest with them about
what we truly want from life.
Relationships– Working at the Vic, you hear a lot
of stories. I have yet to meet a client that wasn’t in some kind of
co-dependent relationship with a mother, father, sibling or child.
Co-Dependency is putting one’s own needs on the wayside to take care of another
persons needs for approval and self esteem. Many of us have been conditioned to
believe that love is sacrificing and though at times it is, a love that
sacrifices one’s own desires the majority of the time is not the result of
‘love’ it’s the result of imbalance. A healthy relationships is one where each
individual can voice their opinion and say, “I would love to help you with that project, but I have a lot of
obligations right now and can’t. I’m sorry.” If that statement sounds bold
to you, you might need to practice saying it over and over again because being
able to confidently speak up for oneself is an essential part of life.
Time – I
genuinely think that the people in my family are some of the most fascinating
characters I have ever met. We can laugh and talk for days. However, that
doesn’t mean just because we CAN we SHOULD. Though my family is stimulating and
fun, so is a roller coaster. But, if you go on a roller coaster all day long
you’re going to get pretty discombobulated. The same thing happens for me with
my family. My family triggers me in ways that challenge me, but aren’t
necessarily healthy to expose myself to for a 18 to 24 hour period. Therefore I
set time limits on the time we spend together. I let them know in advance, “I’m stoked to celebrate Nana’s Birthday!
I’ll see you at 1, but I have to head out at 5.”
I hope some of these verbal communication skills are helpful
to you in setting up boundaries with your family. Remember that boundaries are
AWESOME things! They are set in place to protect what is valuable, which in
this case is YOU. You are a valuable individual that is entitled to have
emotions, opinions and a voice to express who you were created to be!