In Hawaii, the eel lives in a hole in the reef in the ocean. The lobster often makes its home at the mouth of this hole. This is a great arrangement for the eel – since it has a lobster at its doorstep with an antenna pointed outward, watching for predators. It’s a much more complicated arrangement for the lobster – because eels eat lobsters. So, what the lobster has to do is keep one antenna pointed outward, scanning for potential predators, while simultaneously keeping the other antenna pointed inward to watch out for the eel.
What I noticed in my experience with women with eating difficulties is that they are like lopsided lobsters.
After years of listening to the stories of their struggles with eating and body image, it became obvious to me that most of them had the most amazing, extraordinarily well-developed outer antennae! They could, more often than not, walk into a room, pick up on the vibes there, notice what others expected of them, and then respond to those expectations – even before the others had become aware of having had them in the first place! That’s how good they were at picking up on cues from their environment, and sensing what was going on with other people in their lives. And this ability often served them well, as it allowed them to anticipate trouble in advance, fly beneath the radar, and get out of harm’s way if needed.
The problem was that they typically had lousy inner antennae. This meant that they were way better at picking up on – and responding to — signals from their outer environment than they were at tuning in to themselves and responding to their own […]