I had another interesting client at the weekend. She told me "I am tired of sabotaging myself". This woman was heavily overweight. She told a familiar story. She could not control her intake of food. For years she had been yo-yo dieting. Her weight drops by ten kilos, and then thinks that she can now do what she wants to do, and goes back to eating.
Eating problems are always due to unhappiness, so I always start by asking about the client's upbringing. This client said that she had been spoilt and gets on really well with her parents. Every time a client tells me they had an idyllic childhood, my heart sinks. I hear warning bells go off in my head. Anyone who had a perfect childhood would not be sitting in my office. I know they are lying to themselves, so I start probing.
Perfect Childhood Problems
Soon the client was telling me that her strongest memory from childhood was her brother going away to boarding school. She was left feeling devastated, empty and lonely. Then it turns out he went to boarding school because their parents went overseas for three months. Oh, and she was placed with a couple who mistreated her and she was terrified her parents were never coming back. Oh, and yes, the parents went overseas nearly every year, and parked the kids with couples they hired to look after them.
And when they were home, the parents had freezing silences and sulks that lasted for days. And her sister has anorexia. And her brother was always the favorite until he stopped doing so well at school and he got rejected. And she was sent away to boarding school. And she is terrified to this day of being abandoned, of not having anyone, of not being good enough. She has to be constantly pleasing people, making other people happy. Apart from that it was a perfect childhood!
It is always amazing how people can refuse to examine their own life. It is so easy to convince themselves that everything was lovely, because the truth is too painful to contemplate.
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