Years ago I was talking with a friend in a acquaint, European style cafe in Edmonton, when she looked at me and exclaimed, "You have a heart-shaped face." It reminded her, she said, of author, C.S. Lewis' love story with is wife. His wife had a heart-shaped face as well, which he loved.
Soon after the Lewis' were married, they purchased a new car. They loved it and found it quite beautiful. But as they stood looking at it, they had an ax in hand between them. And in the spirit of their agreed upon decision to never let anything material come between them, they raised the ax together, and lowered it to their new car, denting it. Shocking, huh?
They did this because they decided not to let material possessions and how things look come between them.
As an eating disorder therapist, I've seen first hand how damaging image is to a family and the individuals within it. Whole family systems can operate around the idea that how they appear to others is more important than who each individual is. And something like the first dent in a new car can start a heated fight and create division.
Working as a counsellor I've also learned just how quickly people go to image when they are hurt or challenged. Somehow creating the right image soothes the pain or embarrassment, at least on the surface.
While things do matter, family systems operate better when they choose to protect people over things. Both need to be respected
When I counsel teens, there is a common thread in their story. The teenager is often angry, hates herself, and is engaging in some kind of destructive behaviour like addictions, disordered eating or an eating disorder, or is looking for love through offering their body.
As I listen to their story, I hear the desperate need for someone to see and love them as they are. I hear the teen's deep desire for the parent to take the time to really hear them, and to see what is good in them and to keep focused on this as they talk to their teen. I hear the deep desire for the teen to know the parent will guard the teens' inner personhood.
Hearing takes putting your own thoughts, assumptions, and goals aside and taking the time to understand what is coming from another's mind and heart. And contrary to public opinion, teens want their parents to take the time to hear.
Every one has an ax in their hand. Have you taken time in your family to know where it is landing and what you are guarding?
Karen Cook Counselling & Therapeutic Life Coaching
Eating Disorders and Women's Issues Specialist
This is your season to learn, grow, and develop a full and deeply satisfying life.