5 Steps To Finding Peace When Your Daughter Is Anorexic

When your days are filled with making and serving meals to someone who refuses to eat, but whose life depends on it, it can feel like you will never experience peace again. When your anorexic daughter is crying, refusing to eat, dumping plates of food on the kitchen floor, accusing you of wanting to make her fat, harming herself, or threatening suicide all day every day and into the night every night, how can a parent even consider peace as a possibility?

It is a time consuming and emotionally demanding responsibility to care for an anorexic child. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years. But, anorexia does not have to control your life. It is possible that even when your daughter’s anorexic behavior is at its worst, you can create inner peace and calm.

I am not saying that the goal is to be at peace with your daughter having anorexia. Watching her go through the misery and destruction of an eating disorder, your natural inclination will be to stay in thoughts that create the opposite of peace. Staying in the turmoil that is anorexia is what your brain will want you to do.

But, caring for yourself by learning to find peace that is not dependent on your daughter’s behavior, puts you in a better position to care for her. That is why it is well worth your time and effort to invest in learning how to make peace for yourself.

You can create peace at any time by following these 5 steps:

1. Give yourself credit for everything you’ve done to get to where you are in your daughter’s recovery.

Literally give yourself a pat on the back, a standing ovation, applause, a high five, and/or a hug. Allow yourself to celebrate what you have accomplished.

Whether you have gotten your daughter the in-patient care she needs, started looking at residential treatment centers, or decided to feed her at home, stop and appreciate the work you have done to help your daughter. Regardless of how far along you are on the road to recovery, every action you have taken, every bit of information you have gathered, every failed attempt to get her to eat, every encouraging word you’ve given her, every day you have kept going when you didn’t know if you had the strength, is progress. Acknowledge yourself for a job well done.

2. Look for things to like about yourself.

It is easy to focus on the negative when you are caring for your anorexic daughter. It is also common to lose confidence in your ability as a parent, and to feel like your identity is being lost in the endless cycle of meals, snacks, doctor’s appointments, and the emotional ups and downs that your daughter is experiencing.
Practice discovering what you like about yourself, what is going well, and what you are proud of yourself for accomplishing. Do you like how patient you are with your daughter? Is your daughter’s transition back to school going well? Are you proud of yourself for learning so much about anorexia so that you can provide support for your daughter’s recovery?

3. Pay gentle attention to your thoughts throughout the day.

Become a compassionate observer of the sentences that are going through your mind. Try to become aware of what kinds of thoughts you are having. Observe your thoughts, be fascinated by them, but don’t judge yourself or your thoughts. Just notice them.

Once you become aware of the unconscious thoughts that you are automatically thinking, you can learn to consciously choose thoughts that bring you peace.

4. Be understanding with yourself.

Mistakes are okay, so there is no need to beat yourself up any time something goes wrong. Be as compassionate and calm with yourself as you have learned (or are learning to be) with your daughter.
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt when things don’t go the way you want them to go. Allow things to play out without immediately berating yourself. For example, if you daughter lost weight this week, it is not your fault. It is not because you can’t handle feeding her, or because you don’t know what you are doing. It just is. 
Consciously choose to keep your thoughts from spinning.  We are conditioned to think we cannot control our thoughts, but, with practice, it is truly possible to keep our negative thoughts from controlling us.  
5. Accept reality and work with it, not against it.
Acceptance of your daughter’s anorexia does not mean that you become helpless, or that you stop taking action. It means that you acknowledge where you are today, and you decide what adjustments need to be made to move forward.

Check in with yourself.  What is going on with you? By being interested in what you are thinking and suspending judgment about your thoughts, you will be able to identify beliefs that could be getting in your way. If you notice that old belief systems are interfering with your ability to take care of yourself while you are taking care of your daughter, you can then work to acknowledge your feelings without letting them control your behavior.

Ask yourself some questions to help you uncover beliefs that need updating:  
Do you believe it is selfish for you to want to feel peaceful because your daughter isn’t able to feel peaceful right now?

Do you believe that you could have or should have done something to keep this from happening to your daughter?

Do you believe you are causing your daughter pain by requiring her to eat and not allowing her to dance?

Do you believe that anorexia is a bad thing and bad things aren’t supposed to happen to good people?

Are your beliefs useful to you, or are they outdated or erroneous?
Identifying beliefs that are not useful to you, is the starting point for the creation of new beliefs. By practicing the 5 steps to finding peace, you can care for yourself so that you can be there as the confident, calm, and compassionate parent you want to be.

Supporting your daughter’s anorexia recovery may be one of the hardest things you will ever do. Remember when your brain wants you to be in turmoil, when you are doubting yourself and your ability to manage what is happening, you can choose peace.

I would love to help you learn to find peace while you are caring for your anorexic daughter. Email me at jenni@peacemealcoach.com to schedule a free 20-minute mini coaching session.

2019-02-04T23:26:57+00:00