The following is a real email coaching exchange with a bulimic woman (permission was granted to publish anonymously). Her name, Brenda, is a pseudonym.
“Brenda” had read my book, Your Achilles Eel and found a way to contact me for life coaching. My coaching practice is full, so I had to decline the opportunity. However, I was intrigued by the possibility of using email coaching with the Inner Dynamics coaching model. So I offered her an experimental email coaching program, which she accepted.
What follows are the first few email coaching exchanges, which reveal the transformative thinking that happens when you shift your paradigm toward an awareness of inner dynamics (your separate, inner parts).
I assumed that I’d need to lead Brenda into a discussion of her inner parts, which I did. And I was surprised how vividly she described her inner turmoil. Even more surprising was what happened next:)
Email Coaching: First Note from Client
Thanks so much for doing this email coaching experiment with me, Mike.
I am 62 but look 40-something I am told, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
So. Since I was 21 or 22 I have been Bulimic. I remember my first episode. It was a Saturday night and all my friends were busy or out. I acknowledged that by trying to cover up my panic of being alone by ordering in Chinese food. I ate ALL of it and panicked again because there was no way I wanted it to stay inside me resulting in weight gain. So I threw up. And I actually felt relieved because I got rid of all the food and happy that I had discovered this answer to overeating.
The rest is a blur. And I had quit bingeing and purging for great blocks of time. But it somehow re-enters if I get stressed or let my guard down too much.
I have been in a 12-step program for overeaters a long time ago but it became too parental and just strange people delivering a message. I have had individual counseling to no avail and I went through a hospital program – ughhhhh – which was the worst. Idiots.
In 2014 I flew out and took a 6-day retreat with Geneen Roth in Monterey CA. Brilliant woman but I didn’t know what to do spiritually in gazing at my self-destructive ways of eating and self-sabotaging my life. Friendships are a big problem now too.
Last year I joined Bright Line Eating lead by Susan Pierce Thompson who also put out a book. She is a neuroscientist. If you look her up she is very current, very happening and very now!! And thousands follow her. She beautifully explains that our chemistry is responsible for turning some of us into raging “addicts” and she created a scale to measure this by. She is also strong on her community by saying we cannot do this alone. Her motto is Happy, Thin and Free.
So I followed her Bright Lines but found I was even more embroiled in food, food, and more food. There are many of her tenets that ring true but then there is a corner of it that I just don’t want to do. And gawd forbid Mike if you ‘break your lines’ (there are 4 of them).
So I am feeling totally fucked – I’m 60 pounds overweight and feel like I am a waste and I am afraid that if I did get to goal weight I would turn into an even bigger asshole than I am now. And now I’m running out of road…..with no idea what makes me happy. As you can tell I would be no fun at a party LOL
I am at a point now where I cannot cure my thinking with more broken thinking and need something that is just for me. Maybe this email coaching is it?
Email Coaching – First Reply from Coach
Ok, thank you for sharing your story, Brenda. I think I understand it on the surface. A quick question:
What’s your goal – is it about weight or bingeing/purging? Or something else?
You’re not totally fucked. A part of you believes and feels you’re totally fucked. But at least one other part of you still has hope. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have reached out to me or be involved in any recovery protocol. Do you agree? This means you’re in conflict, which is better than being 100% fucked.
Try this: Picture in your mind’s eye the part of you that says you’re totally fucked and tell me what you see.
You are right, I am not totally fucked. BUT there is a section, a part of me, that just hates and hates and hates me. Hates. And I don’t know how ‘it’ got there. This part of me just circles and circles all day, conjuring up food visions in my head. It is so haunting I just think if I don’t eat what this vision is pestering me about it will never go away. And then IT takes over, it’s like another side of me. It’s awful. This is my booze, my drug.
I would like my weight to be at goal. I would like NEVER to binge again and I would like NEVER to purge again. EVER. These are just symptoms of the eel that is present right? I would like to just stand alone in my fear!!!!! This is the hardest thing I have ever done and I haven‘t even DONE it yet.
The part of me that’s totally fucked has no bright or happy future. It’s a thief. And my problems are insurmountable. And I believe it’s me. But since you have asked me to focus this way I know it’s not me. But then it is and then it’s not…..
And this ‘feeling’ is located in my stomach.
Is it even possible to be happy or filled with joy every day? Cause I don’t know anyone who is?
Email Coaching Response
What a vivid description of this part that hates you, Brenda. Nice job! Did you know this kind of thing is totally normal?
Read the following short pieces:
Parts of ourselves can torment us – and yes – take over and control our behavior. Guess what – you’re normal! Not kidding. What you described is the most human thing that no one wants to talk about because they feel crazy for having these inner dynamics.
The key will be to face this part of you and talk to it. Are you up for that?
(four days later)
Wow! I’m still reading, re-reading. Why is this not on CNN headline news? I also watched your YouTube where your wife demonstrates the ‘rejection’ part!!
I am just on day #2 of applying the AHA to my eating. It feels awkward but I gotta start somewhere.
This is EXACTLY what I do -I just start feeling good about helping myself dietarily (new word), see that I’m losing weight and destructive habits and then I go about in a methodical fashion undoing everything one crap food at a time, then portion size, then binge and then rinse and repeat. I am so exhausted when I think about the decades I have dicked around with this. I also became aware many many times about what I was doing….and stopped but there was NO understanding of a PLAN, so it never held.
Still reading and bending my neuro networks around this LOL
I am grateful today!!! To you.
What a great way to start the day, Nancy – to read the good news in your email. A great step forward!
Keep bending your neurons in this direction and send me an update with questions, etc…when you’re ready.