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What’s Eating You?

Demurely she said, “I gained several pounds and now feel physically unattractive. Lately, when my partner is feeling sexual, I immediately shut down and become afraid that he is thinking all the negative thoughts about me that I’m thinking about myself.” This weight issue is everywhere.

Even though we are a country obsessed with the issues of weight, most therapists agree that few pounds here or there are probably not going to interfere with ecstasy or orgasm. How you feel about yourself and those pounds will most certainly have an impact!

Our society, unfortunately, spends billions of dollars in advertising each year convincing us that thin is in and fat is out. However, recent studies indicate the majority of American men and women are slightly overweight (by totally unreasonable fashion industry criteria) and much more healthy than the Thin-as-Twiggy models. This tidbit of information may not liberate you enough to purchase the pants or skirt with the elastic waist (an item which even the finest designers have recently discovered sell better), but it may help you feel a bit less alone.

Next, it is important for you to check with your doctor and confirm there are no physical reasons for the weight gain. You can be fighting a very depressing battle if the weight gain is due to a change in metabolism or digestive malfunction of which you are not aware. This is not uncommon after coming off drugs or alcohol. If you get a clean bill of health, then it’s time to look deeper. The issue is really something else that is eating at you and making you eat!

Given that you can no doubt sexually function as well post-pounds as pre-pounds, let’s suppose the problem is not a sexual one, but rather, an emotional one. Bottom line, the only thing that matters in reference to your weight is how you feel about it!

Even if you are grossly over weight and using the weight to take yourself off the planet, if that is what you choose to do and you are happy with that decision, it’s your right to do so. The rest of us will continue killing ourselves with beliefs in aging, cancer, cigarette smoke or pollution and you certainly get to choose your weapon of choice. It might be beneficial however to ask yourself if what you are doing feels good and if not maybe there’s a better way.

Depending upon how long you’ve been clean and sober, it could be that unconsciously you’ve simply traded one addiction for another. You may not be dealing with the underlying emotional reasons for the addictions in the first place. For instance:

  • Are you feeling a lack of safety and could the weight be a way of staying protected either from your own feelings or from others?
  • Are you having trouble dealing with the lack of chaos or difficulty in your life and could you be creating yet another challenge because it’s familiar?
  • Could it be that you are putting on weight as a defense mechanism against experiencing deeper intimacy in your relationship?
  • Could you be afraid that really good sex will make you more dependent on your partner? It’s frightening when you start to deeply connect to another person without new tools or the alcohol or drugs that used to be between you and your partner as a buffer.
  • Could there be childhood abuse issues trying to surface and resolve? This often happens in good relationships and we can use food as a means of pushing the feelings back down because they are uncomfortable.
  • Are you starting to feel unsure of your lovability or performance without the all the substances that kept you “on” and “desirable.”
  • Are you feeling intimidated or frightened because your partner wants to give to you sexually which means you have to let go of some of the control that comes with being the one who does all the giving?
  • Do you feel like you are starting in sexuality class 101 because you never made love sober before and aren’t sure how to do it successfully?
  • Are you falling more deeply in love with your partner and are you using sex as a “hold out” to avoid feeling too connected?

The bottom line in the majority of these issues is a lack of trust in yourself or your partner and those extra pounds are a symptom and not the real problem. So, the good news is that by resolving these issues you will, at the same time, be creating more trust in yourself and your relationship. And as the majority of my patients will attest, the more issues you resolve, the more the pounds just seem to mysteriously fall off.

While you are resolving these issues, however, lets put things back into perspective and bring some safety, fantasy and friction back into the bedroom.

You know that lovely, willowy, blond person who is thin as rail, does great leaning-over chest shots on screen or in that magazine fold out and holds your partner’s attention a bit longer than you find comfortable? Well, her agent will not give out her home phone even if your partner were to ask. She probably won’t leave endearing messages on the phone machine or sweet notes propped up against the toaster like you do. She doesn’t have the months or years of history with your partner that have finally allowed him or her to relax into feeling safe and together.

Your partner can’t reach out and adjust the hair that falls across her face or brush away the crumbs that remain on her cheek. Nor can your partner unconscious reach out for her in the middle of the night knowing she will always be there, warm and waiting, no matter what she weighs. And if you asked your partner, no doubt she or he would not trade the sweet and funny things you say and do in for even a single night out on the town with someone you think “looks better.”

For the human being who is conscious, history and memories count for more than body shapes!

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

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