On my blog entry entitled Passed the 30-Day Mark with Eating Disorder!, a reader posted the following comment:
I was wondering do you struggle to do anything for yourself as a treat? Today I was at the hairdressers and nearly had to leave I felt so evil for trying to make myself look nice and worthless for making any kind if effort with my appearance, I get that with a lot of things similar (clothes shopping for example) and I wasn’t sure if it was just what I was told by my particular abuser or something common to a lot of abuse survivors? ~ Sophie
Yes, I used to struggle with this, but I don’t any longer. I think this is a common issue for many child abuse survivors. We view ourselves through our abusers’ eyes and believe that we are unworthy of any sort of kindness.
I am a big fan of the singer Pink. She has a song out called F*ckin’ Perfect that addresses this issue nicely:
You’re so mean, when you talk, about yourself you were wrong.
Change the voices, in your head, make them like you instead. ~ Pink
To overcome this challenge, you have to change those voices in your head – those voices telling you that it is not OK to treat yourself to something nice. This gets back to the Compassion versus Self-Hate battle and the feed the right wolf story. Each time you choose to challenge those internal voices and be kind to yourself, you are building the strength of the “good wolf” and fighting the “evil” wolf.
I had to start with baby steps. I realized that the one “safe” way I could be touched was by my hairdresser when she washes my hair and cuts it. I gave myself permission to schedule a haircut each month, and I allowed myself to enjoy the physical “safe” touch involved in getting my hair cut. Today, I cannot fathom denying myself this pleasure, but it took a lot of strength and courage to give myself permission to enjoy this treat.
The same thing applies to buying new clothes. I would binge eat to manage my painful emotions, and I would “punish” myself for being fat by not buying myself new clothes. I would not buy a new pair of jeans until my old ones quite literally split. Now I do buy myself new clothing from time to time. I am far from a clothes horse, but I do buy myself new clothing that makes me feel good about myself when I wear them.
Photo credit: Hekatekris