Once upon a time, a long, long time ago,
there was a King who had been away at war and was finally coming home. As he approached the castle, his dog ran up to him looking crazy: his muzzle was foaming and bloody, he was running round and round the King in circles, and then back toward the castle where the nursery was. The king followed the dog to his new baby’s room and, to his horror, found the baby’s crib and wall spattered in blood and a large wolf laying prone in the crib. The King, terrified and then horrified, turned toward the dog and plunged his sword into him, thinking the dog had allowed his baby to be killed by a wolf. Just then, he heard the baby’s cry from under the wolf. The dog had protected the King’s baby.
Now, you may be thinking, like my clients when I shared this, How horrible! What a terrible story! What the heck does this have to do with eating disorder recovery; why didn’t he just pause before killing the dog; and where is the Queen in all this?
In order to see how this relates to recovery, we have to look at it metaphorically and break out of literal mind. In this story,
- the dog is our body,
- the wolf is our critical, eating disordered mind,
- and the baby is our most precious soul-self.
The King could be many things: he could be our Observer-self (if he had paused), he could be the fierce action-oriented part of our self (that is helpful when channeled in the right direction and destructive when not), he could be the part of our self that integrates other parts…
However, the most significant question I have for you is: how is your relationship with the dog? Because your body is not the enemy here. And, in recovery, your body needs to (and has the capacity to) become your greatest teacher, ally, and communicator. What would happen if you listened, with curiosity, again and again?
Many blessings and so much gratitude for Dr. Anita Johnston, author of Eating In the Light of the Moon: How women can transform their relationship with food through myth, metaphaor and story telling (Carslbad: Gurz books, 1996) for this story. Dranitajohnston.com