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What my bulimic teenage-self needed

What are your thoughts on eating disorder prevention?

“Wait until you are 28 years old: life will be so much easier.”

Were the words of the psychologist I went to see at the age of 18. 

What I am about to share is not meant to scare a parent who reads this, it is meant to take the fear of the unknown. 

When I was a teenager I experienced a few years of utter darkness, feeling helpless and contemplating jumping out my bedroom window on the 4th floor. 

The only thing that stopped me was the uncertainty of whether it would kill me?

Writing this nearly 3 decades later, brings an awareness of how desperate I actually felt. 

In my early teenage years, things weren’t so bad. 

They were filled with laughter.

A new found freedom growing to the height of adults, left me feeling less like an inferior child. 

In hindsight, what brought on most of my despair was the academic pressure and mistakenly seeing it as my only ticket out.

Starting in a secondary school in East Germany only a couple of years after the Berlin Wall came down and the excitement subsiding - was a lot to process. 

Even though life seemed to change for the better materially (not knowing what the future and this new system would bring), it seemed to leave an unfilled longing for true happiness in those around me.

What I couldn’t see as a teenager due to the lack of life experience: was that the same external rewards were dangled in front of the youth as when the system changed last, in 1945. 

"Work hard, earn degrees & titles to live happily ever after."

How did my first 11 years of being raised in socialism, influence my choice of becoming a parent educator?

I learned that power needed to be shared with others. 

In the tyranny I grew up in, that disguised itself as a democracy:

the individual was programmed to give up his or her needs to serve 'dem Kollektiv' (the collective).

When I work with a parent I bring the macro to the micro and share my ideas on balanced leadership. 

While from the age of 25, all humans have a fully formed adult brain and the potential ability to self-regulate, a child’s brain is only growing this skill. 

So does this mean that the parent is superior to the child?

What I help my client with is to recognise that no matter how young, a child needs to have:

  • a power of choice

  • a feeling of independence

  • an opportunity to believe he or she is capable

  • and a knowing that their presence matters. 

Would you agree that this sounds like a helpful recipe for any stage of life?

We all need to know that we are being heard, seen, appreciated and loved for who we are no matter what difficulty life throws at us.

When I believed that I was only worthy if I had:

☄️ better grades

☄️ lost some weight

☄️ read a book 

☄️ tidied my room

☄️ scored a goal for my handball team

☄️ and fulfilled the expectations of those who mattered most, I couldn’t find my purpose. 

One of the steps to healing my bingeing behaviours was thanks to this groundbreaking parenting approach.

I learned that the 3 natural aspects, every human needs to survive:

  1. sleeping

  2. eating

  3. toileting

can become a battleground for a child.

If a boy or girl perceives to not be in control, he or she may want to be the boss of what they can be the master of. 

This knowledge gave me an insight why I couldn’t allow the suppressed feelings (stuck inside my belly) to come up.

I used food as a coping mechanism for relieving what I had no tools or skills to access. 

This awareness found me a few years ago, after spending an entire week questioning my beliefs about my body and my right to be here.

Finally, I started the reconciliation process after decades of self-abuse.  

What I can say about coming out the other side is that parents cannot fix their child’s burdens or troubles and are most definitely not to be blamed

What a mother or father can do to restore courage in their teenager is say something like:“I have faith in your ability to find a solution and trust you to meet this challenge.”

This reassurance is what I needed. 

What I am learning is that words need to match the actions. 

Children who are acquiring language at first, are much better at observing the body and the movement. 

What is so transformational about the teachings of Alfred Adler (friend of Albert Einstein’s) is the method he gifted this world: to observe the movement and find beliefs and thoughts that are congruent with it. 

So when I turned 28, life did get easier in a strange way. 

However, due to the lack of practical knowledge in my pocket even while traveling the world, I took my sorrows everywhere I went.

Instead of outrunning them and numbing them, I was now heading to an autoimmune disease.

The cells in my body were at war with each other and my physical immobility forced me to start learning to face my fears and go to the root cause. 

My journey began with Transcendental Meditation, discovering Ayurveda (to bring my body back to balance) and to the Alderian way how to be in relationship and having power with.  

Dr Marina Bluvshtein, an inspiring Adlerian Psychologist and gardener whom I met last Summer, shared in a podcast this week: 

“You cannot grow anything without getting your hands dirty."

I look forward to the year ahead, rolling up my sleeves and helping others to accept the imperfections that come along with parenting. 

‘Befriending uncertainty’ is my motto for 2024 and replacing love with fear is my simple approach to creating a calmer home. 

If there is an end of life review and I will be shown 1 parent whom I will have supported on their way, my purpose will have been found and for that it was worth to stay. 

Email me privately and share if you can relate to my story:

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