Archive for August 18th, 2008

I have a habit of ignoring my body’s signals, and I suspect this ties into the child abuse I experienced. I say this because I know many other child abuse survivors who do the same thing, but I really do not know why.

What do I mean by ignoring my body’s signals? I might really need to use the bathroom, but I refuse to stop what I am doing until I really cannot wait any longer. There is no reason that I cannot just stop what I am doing for a minute and go use the bathroom, but I don’t. I cannot tell you why.

I know child abuse survivors who ignore body signals about it being time to eat. The people I am talking about are not anorexic, although there is a strong link between child abuse and eating disorders, such as anorexia, and those people do the same thing, too.

One friend, who is a child abuse survivor and not anorexic, routinely fails to listen to her body’s signals about when it is time to eat. She will be sitting with a group of people and become embarrassed when her stomach starts making loud noises, but she fails to connect the dots that she needs to eat something.

I do the opposite extreme in failing to listen to my body’s signals to stop eating, which ties into my eating disorder of binge and emotional overeating. In fact, to learn how to eat a normal-sized portion of food, I had to spend weeks learning how to tell the difference between my body sending me hunger signals and my emotions telling me I needed to eat to soothe them.

Another strange thing is that I routinely find bruises on my body that I do not remember getting. Sometimes they are large, and it is frankly embarrassing to have no answer to how I got them when others inquire. I used to fear that this was an indicator of losing time as part of dissociative identity disorder (DID), but I have come to realize that this is simply part of my ignoring my body’s signals. I stay dissociated from my body enough not to notice when it is injured.

Learning how to stay present in my own body is the key to listening to my body’s signals. I find that I am much less likely to overeat when I make an effort to live in my body instead of dissociate from it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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