(To mature women: Regardless of your age, size, shape, color, mental or physical health or political situation, the glorious free and visionary you is always alive within you.)
A mature woman, decades after eating disorder recovery, may live a life fraught with relationship, career and self-esteem difficulties. You are no longer starving, binging or purging, but you still suffer from painful issues in your life, particularly self-doubt.
If you went through effective psychotherapy you found your way to ending your eating disorder behaviors. As a mature woman today, maybe you rarely think of those starving, binging, food obsessed days and nights. Yet underlying psychic structures of the eating disorder can still be present, ready to spring into action when you are threatened by more than you can bear or allow yourself to see or know.
In your younger years you developed an eating disorder to protect yourself from unbearable feelings and sensitive levels of awareness. You didn't have the maturity, skills, experience or personal power to deal with what was happening in your life that was beyond your capacity to tolerate.
Now you are decades older. Your life experiences include what you never thought about when you were in your teens or when you were a young woman in college or just starting a job or a love relationship. As a mature woman your see friends and family aging, getting ill, dying.
You see people experiencing joy and satisfaction in their lives, but also painful divorces, children going to war,. You see dementia striking bright people you counted on as friends and confidents. You see disheartening personality changes in others. You know more about betrayal, abandonment and loss than you ever thought possible. And looming about is the concern of unexpected financial inadequacies.
Mature Women's Issues decades after Eating Disorder Recovery
As I work with women in their fifties and sixties plus in my psychotherapy practice the crippling issues that emerge are:
- inability to establish self-care boundaries, especially with family members;
- excessive deference to real or imagined authority;
- attempting to live up to impossible standards or demands;
- valuing others more than self;
- taking on responsibilities for others while ignoring personal needs;
- acceptance and/or denial of betrayal;
- inability to respect or even recognize personal pain as signals of something being amiss;
- continual postponement of career and life goals in order to tend to others' perceived needs;
These issues relate to the formation of an eating disorder. Without acting out an eating disorder and believing they have recovered from an eating disorder mature women can be bewildered by their experience. They don’t have a name of a disorder to look up or define. They suffer while believing their choices are the best they can make. They do not understand that the lies an eating disorder brings to their mind and spirit live on and need to be addressed.
Freedom, Inspiration and Motivation for Mature Women
After almost 40 years of working with mature women and aging myself I know about the healthy and happy life of a woman free of those Eating Disorder traces.
- Women have a heart and soul, a deep pool of wisdom and everlasting potentials for growth, healing, wisdom and courage.
- Women are primal, the source of new life. The wisdom of the ages lives in your cells. The courage to evolve and continue is in your DNA. Te determination to live well and the capacity for joy is in your cells, souls and minds.
- Regardless of any physical, emotional, cultural or legal restraints placed on women, you can emerge as free agents in this world. You can claim your authentic lives. You can breathe for yourselves and let the oxygen you take in nourish you own bodies and perspectives and beliefs in this world.
My vision comes not from my eyes but from my solar plexus, my gut, my chi source, my blood cells, my pounding heart and throbbing larynx.
I know you can be free, happy, sexual, creative. You can be a worthy adversary and a fierce champion. You can sing and dance and howl at the moon.
Whatever your life circumstances, what ever has happened to you, what ever goals you hold precious but seem impossible to reach, ways exist to release you from your restraints, restraints you may not even know are binding you. You can rise far beyond your limitations. You can evolve endlessly and thrive in the adventure of living that can be yours.
To share your thoughts and experiences on this topic, please write:
Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice serving California, Arizona, Florida, Utah and Oregon. All appointments are virtual. Serving adults only with a minimum age of 25. Seniors welcome.
Author of Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder.
To schedule a free telephone consultation write: