When no one can understand

Here's part of a talk I gave on the Big Island of Hawaii for the opening of our new Ai Pono treatment program in Kamuela. I hope you enjoy it.

“Invisible Forces” When no one can understand your eating disorder.

There was once this man, who had black and white cattle. And he loved his cattle so much that he treated them like his own children. Every morning he would go out and he would milk his black and white cattle, and they would give him white frothy milk.

Well, one day, he went out to milk his black and white cattle, and there was no milk. He thought, well that’s weird. The next morning, he went out to milk his black and white cattle again.

Still no milk. So he moved the cattle to a place where the grass is greener, thinking this will solve the problem. Third morning, he goes out to milk his black and white cattle. No milk.

So he says to himself, you know, something is wrong here. I’m going to stay up all night until I can see what it is. And that’s what he did. In the wee hours of the morning, he saw the most amazing site: The heavens opened! And down from the heavens came this huge rope. And climbing down the rope were the most amazing women he’d ever seen. They were carrying calabashes and they took the calabashes and went over to his black and white cattle where they milked the white frothy milk.

Well, the man didn’t care about the milk. These women were the most amazing women he’d ever seen. So he ran towards them and he grabbed one. She shrieked. Calabashes and milk went flying all over the place as the rest of the women scurried up the rope into the heaven. He held on tight to her. And the tighter he held, the more she fought. The more she fought, the tighter he held.

Until he said, woman, I want to marry you.

She stopped fighting. She said alright. I’ll agree to marry you. Under one condition. What’s that?, he said.

I have this basket that is so exquisitely woven that the lid fits perfectly on the bottom. I’ll agree to marry you if you agree not to open the basket until I say so. Is that it, he said? So they were married. And she was a very good wife. And she loved his black and white cattle and treated them as though they were her own children.

One morning, she was out milking the black and white cattle and he was sitting around the house. His eyes went up to the top shelf where the basket was. He thought, we’ve been married a long time. All of what I have is hers. Surely what is hers is mine. It probably won’t do any harm to take a peak in that basket now.

So he got up. He took the basket down from the shelf and put it on his lap. And very carefully he lifted the lid that fit perfectly on the bottom. And he looked inside. He said, I can’t believe she’s made such a big deal out of this. There’s nothing here.

He put the lid back on the basket and put the basket back on the shelf. So when his wife came home, she said, so, husband. What have you been doing? And he said, hmm, I looked in the basket.

Oh, she said. “You looked in the basket?”
“Yeah, I can’t believe you made such a big deal out of this.”
“You looked in the basket? And what did you see?”
“Nothing. There was nothing there.”
“You looked in the basket and you saw nothing. If only you would have waited, I would have shown you how to see what was in the basket. Now, I must take my basket and leave.”
She left him.

She left him.

And the old story teller says, tsk tsk tsk. Mankind still thinks those things of the spirit, which cannot be seen, are nothing.

Now, I tell you this story, because what happens in the field of eating disorders is that those who struggle with an eating disorder, concerned family member and friends and sometimes even professionals, don’t understand that it’s not simply about what you can see.

It’s not simply about the food. There are invisible forces. Forces that we can’t see with our physical eyes that are driving the eating disorder behavior. And if you’re only looking at the number on the scale or the fat on the body, or counting calories, you’re not going to get to those invisible things that are driving the disordered eating.

And if you don’t get to them, you can’t have full complete recovery. Recovered period. Eating disorders are like a weed. If you just cut them off at the top, given the right circumstances, they will come right back. But if you go down and get the root issues, those that cannot be seen with our physical eyes, and clear them, it’s a done deal. It’s done.

That’s why we focus so much on getting to those underlying issues. So that you don’t have the revolving door situation where somebody can actually go in, get what’s at the root of it and be done with it. But unfortunately, so many people think it’s just stopping the behaviors. And that’s it. And they might try to white knuckle it. Or they might try to just distract themselves.

And what happens if those real issues aren’t resolved, they can get played out someplace else. Or the eating disorder can come back.

I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!

Till next time,



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