Overweight and Invisible- part2

Carrie: “It seems like I’ve just been going through the motions for some time.”

Therapist: “Since your sister Tori was born?”

Carrie: “I don’t remember not having a sister I was only 18 months old when she was born.”

Therapist: “What is the first thing you remember?”

Carrie: “I remember when I was three, I drew a picture with my brand new crayons. I was so proud of it. I ran to show it to my mother. She said, `Get away from me, can’t you see I’m busy with the baby?’”

Therapist: “How did you feel?”

Carrie: “I felt crushed.”

Therapist: “When did you stop feeling crushed?”

Carrie: “I guess I never did. I still feel like there is a heavy load weighing me down.”

Therapist: “The weight is in your broken heart.”

Carrie: “Why do I eat so much?”

Therapist: “One purpose might be to represent on the outside the heaviness you feel inside. How else did you feel beside crushed?”

Carrie: “I don’t know how to describe it, but I remember feeling that she could see Tori, but she couldn’t see me.”

Therapist: “You’ve never said that out loud before, have you?”

Carrie: “No. It’s weird. I’ve gone through life thinking that people wouldn’t see me, so I didn’t bother with my appearance.”

Therapist: “Tori sensed your discouragement and she went into overdrive. She overtook you and became successful everywhere that you were unsuccessful.”

Carrie: “That’s everywhere but in the fat department.”

Therapist: “You’re right. You are number one in that department. However, feeling invisible to others, especially your loved ones, is a sad, scary feeling. But my point is that being overweight is your way of relieving the pain of feeling invisible.”

Carrie: “At 173, I’m hard to miss.”

Therapist: “Exactly right. Problem solved. You are not invisible after all, are you?”

Carrie: “This stuff sounds nuts.”

Therapist: “It is the logic of a broken hearted child who didn’t know any grown up ways of solving difficult problems.”

Carrie: “I’m not nuts?”

Therapist: “Not at all. You are only suffering the consequences of outlooks and beliefs from childhood. They didn’t make sense then, and they don’t make sense now. But we aren’t through with that recollection yet. How else are you feeling in that memory?”

Carrie: “I told you everything.”

Therapist: “Humor me, Your mother has just dismissed you in favor of your little sister. Did you feel like it was unfair and you did not have any control to change it?”

Carrie: “Well, duh, of course here was nothing I could do about it, I was just a small child.”

Therapist: “Your baby sister had won and you had lost. It was all over.”

Carrie: “I can’t win for losing.”

Therapist: “That is a very interesting point of view in light of your present problem. That things would be going great for you if they weren’t going so badly.”

Carrie: “I’m not following.”

Therapist: “That you can’t lose weight. If you lost weight, you would be winning and you are not the winner in your family, Tori is.”

Carrie: “I can lose everywhere else, but I can’t lose weight.”

Therapist: “That’s another paradox that we can identify and throw overboard.”

Carrie: “How do I do that? By going on weight watchers?”

Therapist: “No. You cannot do that, either. That would be too responsible. Tori is the responsible child in this family, not you. She is the successful child, you are the unsuccessful child.”

Carrie: “Does it all have to do with my sister?”

Therapist: “No, not all of it, but much of your problem is a consequence of the roles that you play in the family. You cannot throw these roles overboard until you are prepared to replace them. Your weight problem is a very clever way to keep you from respecting Carrie. Once again, Tori is the ‘golden’ child, you are doomed to play the opposite role in your parents’ eyes.”

Carrie: “My only happiness comes from eating.”

Therapist: “That isn’t happiness, that is merely numbing the pain of your unhappiness.”

Carrie: “That’s the most I can hope for.”

Therapist: “That’s not very much to look forward to. But there is another paradox here that you do not need. Your unhappiness, your suffering, in a way, entitles you to overeat, doesn’t it?”

Carrie: “I’m entitled to a few treats, why not?”

Therapist: “Why not indeed? It’s only fair, but if you ever stop suffering, you would lose your entitlement to this `happiness.’”

Carrie: “The more I eat, the more I weigh. The more I weigh, the more I suffer….”

Therapist: “….and the more you are entitled to another Twinkie.”

Carrie: “It’s a merry go round. I can’t get off.”

Therapist: “You feel powerless and out of control now, just as you did when you were a small child. You should not have had to face these problems at all alone. Your parents could have done more to make you feel like a member of the family instead of an outsider and an invisible outcast!”

Carrie: “What can I do? I can’t divorce my parents.”

Therapist: “That’s because no one is telling you. They tell you to lose weight. They forget to ask why you gained the weight in the first place.”

Carrie: “Why did I?”

Therapist: “Because, as we have seen, the excess poundage serves several purposes in your life it makes you visible, it perpetuates your role as the family outcast, it keeps the boys away.”

Carrie: “Is that a purpose?”

Therapist: “Sure it is. It would hurt you terribly if you let a boy get too close. He might find out how `unlovable’ you are. He would abandon you. It would confirm your belief that you are worthless. One way to prevent these painful verifications is to keep them from happening in the first place. As long as you stay fat, you are protected from facing this painful scenario. But I have another question, Are you angry at your parents for their favoritism?”

Carrie: “It’s so unfair.”

Therapist: “And unfairness makes you angry. What else angers you the most?”

Carrie: “That Tori is so happy and so popular and I’m not.”

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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