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Archive for May 20th, 2008

Plant (c) Lynda BernhardtOver on my professional blog, I write about adoption topics. My favorite topics to write about are trauma-related. I have several readers who have adopted traumatized children. They appreciate the insights that I can provide into the way their traumatized children’s minds work.

I have launched a new feature over there this week called “Trauma Tuesday” and “Trauma Thursday.” On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will always write about trauma-related topics. (I write two blog entries a day on those days.) Many of those topics can be helpful to adult survivors of child abuse as well, so feel free to check them out.

Last week, I wrote a series explaining eating disorders and how to help a traumatized child heal from them. One reader (an adoptive parent of traumatized children) posted the following insightful comment:

Our children came out of foster care, and have never really suffered deprivation…at least like children in orphanages. But they definitely have food issues. I see it as being non-food related. They are very unaware of their own bodies. They talk too loud, crash into things, seem unaware of how to choose clothing for the temperature outdoors. They don’t know when they are tired, they fret over minor injuries, but can’t distinguish real ones. And they eat with no shut off valve. It’s like they can’t read it. It takes lots of time and work, to get them more in tune with their own selves, and that means on every level…emotional, mental, physical. Our children don’t over eat because of fear and trauma, at least directly, but because they have “shut down”, or maybe never “turned on”. My young teens still look to me and ask if what they have on their plate is appropriate, because they struggle to know. They ask before they take seconds, because they now fear misjudging and making themselves sick. I encourage them to wait a few minutes, and “let it settle”. Usually they will decide against the extra portion. – Scrapsbynobody at Other Types Of Eating Disorders And The Adopted Child

There is so much insight in this comment that I thought I would talk about it on this blog as well.

I have struggled with the eating disorder of binge eating for most of my life. I have also struggled with feeling disconnected from my body. In fact, I used to “live” in only a tiny sliver of my head before I started healing from the child abuse. However, I never connected the two issues the way that Scrapsbynobody did in her comment. Reading her comment was a major “aha” moment for me.

I do so many of the things she mentions. I routinely find bruises on my body – sometimes large ones – and have no explanation for where they came from. I don’t think this is about losing time (I am pretty sure I don’t do that anymore) but about not being in my body enough to notice when it is harmed. I routinely ignore my body’s signals to use the bathroom until my bladder truly cannot take another minute. I had to relearn the difference between hunger pangs that signal hunger versus signaling a need for processing emotions.

I am becoming better about staying present, but what she wrote resonated so deeply with me that it drove home how much work I still have to do. Oh, joy.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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