Many parents live in a state of constant anxiety:
- Am I doing the right thing for my child?
- Am I doing the right thing for my marriage?
- Am I doing the right thing for my career?
- What will happen if …
- How will I handle …
- Will I ever …
The voices in our heads are unrelenting and demanding of our time and energy. It feels as if we can never do enough to be the perfect parent.
If you have a child with an eating disorder like binge eating disorder, bulimia or anorexia, these feelings just get an extra kick in the pants. Not only do you have the “regular” struggles of parenting, you may also have the sense that you have to save your child from herself. And, no matter how many times the experts tell you it’s not your fault, you probably still worry that it is.
- If only I had …
- I should have …
- It wouldn’t have happened if I …
If you are nodding your because this is how you feel, please relax and take a deep breath right now. Your desire to be a perfect parent is perfectly understandable, but it is also perfectly unreasonable. It is likely that you are in the early stages of an energetic crisis, and that will not help anyone in your family.
An “Energetic Crisis” is when your body develops symptoms due to emotional stress. It’s like a white flag from your body, trying to tell your mind to chill out! Common symptoms are repeated colds/flus, IBS, joint pain, back pain, depression, etc.
Here are some signs that you’re on your way to an energetic crisis:
- You rush around, often bumping into things and dropping things as you go.
- You increasingly make calendar errors like forgetting appointments and double-booking yourself.
- Your memory seems impaired and it feels like you can’t actually hear things as people are speaking to you.
- You have a constant low-level sense of panic.
These signs may seem like something that you just have to live with, but they are actually a really big deal. These physical signs are an indication that your ability to “captain” your family’s ship is in danger.
Here are some things to consider if you are feeling the overwhelm described above:
- Find a therapist or a coach who can work with you on your expectations and perfectionism tendencies.
- Find a way to connect with your body every day using meditation, yoga or gentle exercise like walking.
- Talk to your partner about how you can balance your stress in the family.
- Build a community of helpers who can help you steer the family ship.
Remember, taking steps to balance your own energy is not selfish. It is critical to the health and wellness of everyone in your family, especially your child who has an eating disorder. Your balance, calm and ability to soothe her are critical to her healing, but you absolutely can’t show up for her if you are in your own crisis.
Ginny Jones is the editor of More-Love.org. She writes about parenting, body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders. Ginny is also a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.