Posted by: Marie | May 17, 2012

(634) A melting iceberg – Part 2 of 5

Post #634
[Private journal entry written on Monday, June 6, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Edward: Do you feel comfortable telling me what happens with the exercising?

Me: I’ve been working out a little bit at the gym – just a little bit on the treadmill. I don’t push very hard, I just focus on getting to the gym and doing something – anything. I’m trying to just get used to the idea of going to the gym.

Photo by Martin Chen

The workout I do doesn’t last very long and I don’t push hard enough to break into a sweat. I just walk at a decent pace. I can do that with little psychological discomfort – there is nothing to dread.

I’m finding it pretty easy to do that – it’s not that big of a deal. But then, I get home and I get triggered . . . and I binge . . . and climb under the covers.

Edward: What about the exercise is triggering for you?

Me: I think it is because I start feeling connected with my body . . . I start moving into my body – taking control and ownership of it – and I start feeling good about my body . . . and I can’t handle that.

The more frequently I exercise, the more often I binge. Now, I’m binging two or three times more often than I was before I started going to the gym. Instead of eating a pint of ice cream a couple times a week, I’m eating one or two pints every day. Most of my caloric intake is coming from the ice cream. My body aches from malnutrition.

I find myself feeling like I’m never going to get this figured out . . . I’m never going to be healthy, I’m never going to feel good, I’m never going to have a healthy body.

Edward: And what happens if you don’t have a healthy body?

Me: I won’t feel good enough to do the things I really want to do – like hiking – and wearing clothes that don’t drape over my body like a tent . . .

I hate being so frumpy . . .

Edward: And what else . . . ??

Me: (After a pause and deep sigh) Not having a healthy body keeps me from being attractive enough to date.

Edward: Ouch . . . ouch . . .

How does not having a healthy body keep you from being attractive enough to date?

Me: No man wants to be with someone as fat as I am. I don’t think I have to be downright skinny to be attractive enough to have someone want to be with me, but I need to at least lose a lot of weight.

Edward: Ouch . . .

(After a respectful pause) I’m hearing what you say . . . and it sounds to me that you could be using your weight and your lack of self-care as a way to avoid having to deal with relationships. Does that sound like a possibility to you?


When he said that, I felt a rush of anger rise up into my face. I wanted to scream at him to shut up. I’m so sick of people telling me that I’m trying to avoid relationships. I desperately want to be in relationships . . . I mean, I’m good at relationships with women and already have relationships with women.

I really want to be in relationships with men in which I’m respected and loved and honored . . . I really want to be in a solid romantic relationship with a good man.

I remember how Mark kept saying the same thing to me. I know many people use their weight as a way to push people away. But, just because lots of other people do that doesn’t mean that I do that. It’s not the case with me. I’m fat because I can’t keep myself from binging on ice cream and I can’t force myself to exercise on a regular basis.

I felt the rage move through the rest of my body . . . I had a very strong urge to throw my coffee mug at Edward. Instead, I went into my “outwardly compliant” stance and lowered my head and looked at my coffee mug. I declined to say a word – mainly because I couldn’t think of anything to say. Instead, I repeatedly flicked the rim of my mug with my fingernail.


Edward: Where did you go, Marie? Where are you right now?

Me: I’m just frustrated . . . really frustrated . . .

Edward: About what?

Me: I want to be in relationships . . . but, I’ve given up on them! I have no hope that will be part of my life . . .

That just isn’t an option for me.

Edward: You have no hope that what kind of relationships won’t be part of your life . . . ??

Me: I’m talking about romantic/intimate relationships.

Edward: Oh, I see.

What has happened in your life that has led you to that conclusion?

Me: Well . . . I’m 43 years old and I’ve never had a successful relationship. It’s not that I haven’t dated – I’ve dated a lot. But, none of that dating has led to a successful relationship. If I haven’t figured out how to “do it” by now, I’m doubt I ever will.

Edward: (After thoughtfully studying me for a minute) I’m willing to bet that you’ve never shown up as the “authentic you” in those relationships. I’m willing to bet that you have always been “performing” on your dates . . .

I’m willing to bet that you have spent those dates being the person you believed your date wanted you to be.

Me: Yes, that is true.

Edward: What about platonic relationships? Do you have hope for platonic relationships with quality men?

Me: I have hope for those . . . I actually have those in my life already. It’s the romantic relationships I have no hope for – I don’t allow myself to hope, I just keep my focus elsewhere – I keep my focus on who I am and how I show up by myself, as a solo person.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. Well, this session is going places!

  2. I get triggered by exercise also, and don’t often hear of others who do. In my case it’s not that I start feeling good about my body. I think what happens is feelings start to come up that I can’t handle and I end up dissociated and unable to function.

    Interesting you got angry with Edward, I haven’t heard you say that before. I wonder if you ended up expressing that….

    • I know a couple of people who don’t get triggered by exercise but for who if they exercise vigorously (enough to change how they breathe) then feelings come up for them.

      • Hi, Evan –

        I wonder what the change in breathing has to do with it? Is it related to how we “take deep breaths” when we need to ground outselves . . ??

        – Marie

    • Hi, Ellen –

      It sounds like the exercise connects you with your body, which is an uncomfortable experience for you . . . that the exercise is not the issue, but the being connected . . . ??

      – Marie

      • Hi Marie and Evan – I think it’s like Evan’s friends for me Marie – feelings come up for me with vigorous exercise. So I mostly walk instead. What’s happened in the past though is that I don’t even feel the feelings, but instead I shut myself down and dissociate instantly. All I know is that exercise makes me dissociated. But I think somewhere in there, is a point where I could feel the feelings before that happens. I mostly miss that moment though. Cheers

        • Hey, Ellen –

          Ah . . . it sounds like the opposite of what I was thinking . . . you are more or less in your body most of the time but leave when you become very aware of your body . . . ??

          – Marie

  3. very interesting. i struggle with many of the same issues. i hate being in touch with my body… i prefer to think of myself as a a brain… some stuff… and a pair of feet… a big part of therapy has been to feel my emotions in my body as they arise.

    also, i know i def. use my weight to stay out of relationships, that’s not something i question about myself. i just haven’t felt safe enough emotionally to lose any weight… yet.

    it really helps that this social worker i work with that i really, really admire is about my size, and she is happily married and has a great attitude about sex (she leads a sexuality group i am currently attending). even if i don’t end up losing any weight i hope to have her confidence one day.

    looking forward to seeing where this goes…

    • Hey, OBD –

      I’ve always felt like “a floating head” . . that my body is something that carries my head though my day . . . so, I totally understand what you are saying.

      I’m still working on feeling okay with my body in it’s current state . . .

      Thanks for sharing!

      – Marie

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