Dear EFT Community,
By Rob Nelson
In our Level 1 workshops we teach that with any kind of addiction there is often underlying anxiety—“an uneasy feeling that is temporarily masked or tranquilized by some substance or behavior” as Roger Callahan once put it. This was certainly the case for “Sandy”, who came to me for help with binge eating.
Sandy’s problem was a little unusual because most of the time she ate a balanced and sensible diet, without any struggle at all. The only time she overate was at night. In fact, it was only at bed time. A terrible uneasiness would begin as she was brushing her teeth. She felt an almost irresistible urge to eat, which was the only thing that would quell it.
It didn’t seem to matter what she ate, though it was usually something junky. She didn’t experience a craving for any particular food. If she managed to resist and get to sleep, invariably she would wake up in the middle of the night and binge — she’d recently eaten an entire box of granola bars in one go.
It became clear from her story that something very specific was troubling her. She didn’t know what it could be, so we started out with general feelings of worry over gaining weight, along with guilt and shame that she was “out of control”.
After a few rounds of tapping Sandy began to relax and I asked her again why bed time might trigger anxiety. She made a face, and seemed very embarrassed. She said “Well…this is kind of goofy, but when I was a kid I used to wet the bed. In fact I wet the bed until I was 12 years old”. Her voice was full of raw emotion telling me this!
I asked Sandy what her SUD level was just thinking about bedwetting—it was a 10! Very intense shame. So we tapped on many different aspects of bedwetting: the smell, the wet sheets, having to strip the bed, having to do the laundry, the bother for everyone in her family, the terrible feeling of inevitability, the look on her family’s faces, feeling hopeless, feeling flawed as a human being.
As her feelings of shame diminished, one particular memory surfaced: Sandy was 12 and at a sleepover party. She woke up in her friend’s bed and had wet it. We used the Tell a Story Technique to work our way through the intense shame and embarrassment when her friend and the other girls found out.
After this sleepover incident Sandy had finally come up with a strategy that worked. She would sit on the toilet for ten or fifteen minutes before bed just to make sure her bladder was empty. Then she’d be on hyper alert while falling asleep, and if she felt even the tiniest need to urinate she would leap up and sit on the toilet again.
I was surprised when Sandy told me she still follows this toilet ritual today, some forty years later. I was even more surprised by her answer when I asked whether she consciously connected this nightly ritual with the shame and anxiety of bedwetting — an emphatic “YES!” Somehow she had never made the connection with her compulsion to eat at night.
Digging a little further we came up with another significant aspect. It turns out that when Sandy would get up late at night to try and pee, her mother would be the only one up and these were the only times her mother was ever “sane”.
Unfortunately, her mother was always eating and over time she became more and more compulsive. Eventually it got so bad that her mom would fall asleep eating, with food in her mouth! Sandy would watch this and then go back to sleep, night after night.
We tapped a good deal on this unfortunate association between destructive overeating and the only times she ever felt safe and connected with her mom. There was a good deal of sadness there.
Sandy wrote me about five days after this session. She’s had no further problem with the night time eating!
While this was a wonderful success for Sandy, this wasn’t a “one session wonder.” This was actually our fourth session together and we had already tapped through some very traumatic childhood memories. I’m pretty sure this was necessary before Sandy could address the intense shame around her bedwetting trauma.
I mention this because people overcoming similar issues should have realistic expectations. It may take persistence and some good detective work to get to the core of any addiction. With EFT though, you can win through!
Rob Nelson, MS
Certified EFT & Matrix Reimprinting Practitioner
heal your past : embrace your potential
Rob is a trainer for EFT Universe, with upcoming Level 1 and 2 workshops in Santa Rosa, Phoenix and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Info available at www.TappingtheMatrix.com