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The Circle Game*

by Dr. Deah Schwartz

And the seasons they go round and round…”

As spring approaches I find myself thinking about the cyclical nature of life.  This isn’t very deep or profound; the circular pattern of the seasons is a topic of contemplation, poetry, and prose with a long history.  Depending on my frame of mind, this repetition, or redundancy can trigger feelings of despair, stagnancy, being stuck in patterns that just won’t move… just won’t budge.  Considering that spring is supposed to be about new beginnings, spring cleaning and fresh starts, adds additional pressure to someone, like myself, trying to be patient with incremental change.

We’re captive on a carousel of time…”

Other times I find great comfort in this predictable repetition.  Seeing the plum tree in my back yard begin to blossom right on target every March fills me with a sense of safety that at least in this part of the planet all is right with the world.  And when something is predictable it provides us with the opportunity to be proactive and prepare for what is ahead.

We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came…”

Each season has its own idiosyncratic challenges for people struggling with an Eating Disorder and or Body Hate; spring is no exception.  As people begin shaking off their winter coats and emerging from their layers of down jackets and sweaters, the prospect of showing more skin becomes a reality.  In turn, body image panic comes out of hibernation accompanied by an overwhelming urge to “do something drastic” to feel acceptable.  The results are frequently dangerous and self-destructive behaviors.  And lest we take all of the blame for the re-blooming of our self-hate, unless we are living in a vacuum we are already being bombarded with ads urging us to

Spring into the NEW YOU!” “Drop the winter weight and put a spring back in your step!”

You know the ones I mean.  They are feeding the awakening beast of our body hate with negative reinforcement and false promises.

 And go round and round and round in the circle game.”

But remember, our history is not fate, it is knowledge.  We can glean from our past, hold on to the positives, and choose to throw the negatives in the mulch bin.  Spring is about rebirth, reemerging from sleep, blooming.  Springs of water are replenishing and circulating.  Springs are not stagnant. Springs have bounce.  Spring coils have the power to propel.  When we look at a spring


Moving Upward

we see that although it is circular and gives the impression of redundancy and repetition, it also has the sense of upward movement, support, and resiliency.

So while we may be tempted to repeat old patterns or feel compelled to go from one extreme to another, from hibernation to full action, don’t forget that the flowers and trees that are reemerging from their winter states are not moving very quickly at all.  Nature knows this is a time of transition and thoughtful movement.  Carefully consider gently letting go of old habits and behaviors that are self-destructive, reinforce negative self-image, and impede our self-acceptance.  Instead hold on to the aspects of ourselves that are helpful. This is NOT an all or nothing proposition. Let’s tap into our inner strength and self-devotion and use those forces as springboards to a blossoming acceptance of the wonders of our body’s natural shape.

Some things to consider

  • There may be a compulsion to start a restrictive diet with the onset of the warmer weather.
  • Fear of binge eating related to St. Patrick’s Day, Passover, and Easter rituals will be challenging for those with Eating Disorders.
  • Beware of an onslaught of ads by Diet Companies promoting programs promising quick and magic transformations.  Messages like, “Springing into the NEW YOU” result in extreme restrictive dieting, purging, and self-loathing.

*Written by Joni Mitchell.

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