Hannah was distressed that, with all the inner work she had done on herself, she still found herself binge eating.
“There are times when I just can’t stop eating. I feel awful after, but at the time I just want another cookie and another until they are all gone. Or I’ll intend to take a few bites of ice cream out of the carton and find myself unable to stop until the whole carton is gone. I just don’t get why I’m still doing this! And it seems worse since I married Roger, even though I really love him. I just can’t figure this out!”
I asked Hannah to tune into the addicted part of her and allow that part to speak about why she needs to fill up with food.
“Well, sometimes I just feel so empty and alone inside. I just can’t stand it. The food makes me feel so much better. I don’t feel so lonely when I’m eating and filled up. But I don’t get why I feel this way. I’m not alone. I have Roger and he loves me.”
“It sounds like you want to eat when you feel alone inside, when your Inner Child – which is your feeling self – feels alone and abandoned inside.”
“Yes,” answered Hannah. “That’s exactly what I feel, but I have no idea how to fill that emptiness and aloneness without food. And why do I feel alone inside when I’m not alone outside?”
The problem is that most people think that the empty alone feeling is caused by something outside themselves – such as not having a partner, feeling rejected by someone, being unhappy at a job or not having enough money. Yet that is never what causes inner emptiness and inner aloneness. It is caused by one thing – not taking loving care of yourself, of your feelings, of the child within. And we cannot take loving care of ourselves without having a spiritual source to turn to for love, wisdom, guidance and strength.
A spiritual source can be God, a Higher Power, a guardian angel, an inner mentor or teacher, a beloved relative who has died, or your own Higher Self. We all need a source of guidance to turn to other than other people or our own mind. Our mind is limited to our storehouse of beliefs, many of which are false or no longer supportive of who are now are. Our mind cannot guide us in what is truly loving to ourselves. It cannot advise us in what actions support our highest good. So unless we have a source of wisdom to turn to, we may not know what to do to take loving care of ourselves.
We will not even open to this Source until our deep desire is to take loving care of ourselves. As long as we believe it is someone else’s job to fill us up, or that we will get filled up from work, money, food and so on, we will not take the loving action we need to take in our own behalf to take care of our Inner Child and fill ourselves with love.
The first thing I did with Hannah was to help her create, in her imagination, a spiritual source for her to turn to. When I asked her to do this, she immediately imagined her grandfather whom she had dearly loved as a child and who had died when she was five. She said she had often felt her grandfather around her, but had never thought to turn to him for help. Now, as she imagined him holding her and loving her, she began to cry with the joy of feeling his love for her.
“Hannah, while he is holding you, imagine the child part of you that wants to overeat. Imagine that you are holding her while your grandfather is holding you. Ask her how you are treating her that causes her to feel so empty and alone.”
Little Hannah: “The thing you ALWAYS do that I just hate is you just go along with everything that Roger wants. What he wants and needs and feels is always more important to you than I am. You don’t speak up for me. Every since we got married, it’s like Roger is supposed to make me happy instead of you making me happy. I need you to make me happy by taking care of me instead of taking care of Roger so that Roger will love us. I need you to love me.” (This did not come out all at once – this is a summary of what the Inner Child eventually said to adult Hannah).
As Hannah learned to turn to her grandfather for love and guidance and started to take care of herself instead of giving herself up to Roger, her binge eating gradually diminished.