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To request an interview with Jenni, contact Amber McGinty at media@jennischaefer.com. (Please only use this email if you are a member of media.)

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Jenni's Mailing Address:

PO Box 40806
Austin, TX 78704
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Since my first book, Life Without Ed, was released, I have had the chance to connect with thousands of men and women in recovery from various ailments. Several topics come up frequently; one is the connection between eating disorders and trauma. Another is self-injury. Over the years, I have looked for resources to recommend related to these topics. Below is one. Many thanks to Melissa Groman for allowing me to share an excerpt from her wonderful new book.

If you struggle with an eating disorder and/or trauma, find help through the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).

Better is Not So Far Away: Decide to Recover from Bingeing, Starving or Cutting
2015 McGraw-Hill Education, book excerpt
By Melissa Groman

While many young women who have been hurt or abused, sexually or otherwise, develop eating disorders or self-injure, many don’t. And while many women with eating or self-injury disorders have been abused in some way, many have not. Emotional pain has many provocateurs, and though the sources of pain differ, we can share the many tools for and paths to healing…

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For a chance to win a copy of Melissa’s book, just post a comment below!

It is also important to note that not all experiences of sexual abuse are obvious. Many people experience feelings of shame, repulsion, discomfort, fear, helplessness, and confusion from more subtle experiences such as being kissed on the lips, tickled, massaged, or spoken to in an inappropriate way. If it resonates somewhere in your psyche, it’s worthy of attention.

Clients of all ages have come to my office to begin the slow and tedious trek toward talking about what has happened to them, how they have responded, how to heal, and how to live safely, freely, and emotionally well. Many have connected the dots between unwanted touch and starvation, between violence and vomit, between repulsion and ripping skin.

With tender care—not insisting that someone talk too soon or too much about events that were or are deeply wounding—I help them sort through the maze of feelings, thoughts, and patterns.

If you have been hurt or abused and you are sifting through incidents, large or small, wondering what was your fault and what was not (abuse is never a child’s fault); what you do or don’t have control over; how to stay safe; how to release painful thoughts, memories, or feelings and unlock the shame, the fear, the blame, and the secrets you carry—or you are pushing it all away—you should know that you are not alone.

Since this book is about wanting to get better—about feeling safe while feeling and being well—it is not my intention to discuss in detail the specifics of healing from abuse except to say that healing these wounds is most likely a necessary part of getting better. Sometimes staying in the eating or self-injury disorder seems like the only way to push away the pain of those traumas. It often feels better to be deeply involved in cutting your arms up or throwing your guts up than to face and deal with all the trauma and awfulness of being abused and all the feelings that go along with it.

I do not think that injuring yourself or sinking deeply into anorexia or bulimia or food compulsion is a conscious choice. But recovery is. It requires pulling yourself forward in the right direction again and again and again. The pull to protect yourself, escape the pain, and release it on yourself has a power all its own. Your task is to uncover what gets in the way of your being able and willing to get relief without hurting yourself.

Recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse is its own journey, and if you are also suffering from an eating or self-injury disorder, the journey is intricately connected with your recovery from the disorder…

If we could look at a map of the journey, the destination would seem so far away—so high up on the mountain—that we would think it hardly possible to reach. Why even set out? We will never get to Pluto, it seems. Maybe it’s no better there anyway, even if we knew what Pluto would mean…hopelessness, self-hate, sadness, rage, and resentment are not reasons not to try for better. They merit as feelings to be acknowledged and reckoned with but cannot be employed as excuses not to recover, much as we might like them to be. And it’s hard to fathom peace and happiness if you’ve never really felt them.

If we could look at a map of the journey, the destination would seem so far away—so high up on the mountain—that we would think it hardly possible to reach. Why even set out? We will never get to Pluto, it seems. Maybe it’s no better there anyway, even if we knew what Pluto would mean.

…hopelessness, self-hate, sadness, rage, and resentment are not reasons not to try for better. They merit as feelings to be acknowledged and reckoned with but cannot be employed as excuses not to recover, much as we might like them to be. And it’s hard to fathom peace and happiness if you’ve never really felt them.

So in recovery, we go step by step. We take breaks along the way. We rest. We breathe. We keep on keeping on even when we are not so sure we can. We gather nuggets of wisdom from those who know the pain and have traveled the path, and we gather ideas about life and love and possibilities that make the journey easier, that clear the way a bit and bring comfort. What those things are specifically follows later on in the book.

The destination is not finite or final. There is no finish line, but rather many milestones. There are always more places to go. But there will be accomplishments, victories, and periods of true relief, joy, and insights along the way that will form pillows under your psyche so that when the bad feelings need to be let loose, you can land softly. And as you go (and I hope you will decide to go), you will see that you can.

Bit by bit, you can.

Click here to listen to "She Blames Herself," a song on my music CD about overcoming abuse.
Click here to listen to “She Blames Herself,” a song from my CD about overcoming abuse.

 

 

 For a chance to win a copy of Better is Not So Far Away, just post a comment below. One winner will be selected randomly from all commenters.

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  • Hillary Randall Paugh

    I would absolutely love to keep reading this book! Thank you for sharing!

  • Kim

    I would love this book for my daughter who is recovering from ED….it has been a long road! P

    • Recovery is certainly a marathon, not a sprint. Importantly, full recovery is possible! It sounds like you have a brave daughter–and family.

  • Amy Pettengill

    This book looks great! I need a copy!

  • Debbie Lesko

    I need this book. Still struggling but everyone thinks I’m fine because I’m eating. They just don’t know about the other parts. Goodbye Ed, hello me was so pivotal for me.

  • Angela

    I would love to win a copy of this book, as I am recovering from ED and going to school for counseling.

  • Chelsea Renee

    I would love to read this book! I’ve been up and down the past couple of weeks and I’m still trying even though there are days I want to give up. I was told recently that it doesnt matter if you keep failing, it matters if you keep trying when you fail (relapse)

  • Mary

    Great post, I’d love to win the book!

  • Keelyan Sheeley

    This book looks really good! I definitely need to read all of it. I’m recovering from an ED and self-harm, and working through past sexual abuse.

  • Megan Christensen

    Winning this book would be so wonderful. Thank you for writing it to help others along the hard journey of overcoming their difficult past!

  • Ursula Ridens

    I love your comment “there is no finish line, but rather many milestones”…. So true and I think helps us to understand that this isn’t a race but instead a journey.

  • Julie Dugan

    This sounds like a good book for me since I am affected by all of those topics. It would be great to have it as a helpful resource. Thanks for writing it!

  • Guada

    I’ve just started my recovery after so many years of struggle and hiding. Ever since I’ve reached out for help and started walking through the tough recovery path I’ve been doing a lot of reading, I’ve read both of your amazing and hope-filled books and some other roses for you suggested. Everything that I’ve read has helped me so much and that is why I never stop. This seems like a very interesting book related to the topic and I’d love to have a copy and read it. I also take this opportunity to say thank you, Jenni, without even knowing you’re helped me so very much.

    • Thanks so much for reading my books! I really appreciate it.

      Hang in there with recovery. It really does get better. I love how you said that you’re not going to stop. That’s what it takes. Patience and persistence.

      And….drum roll…congrats! YOU are the book winner!! Please send your snail mail address to jenni@jennischaefer.com.

  • Deb E

    I would be thrilled to read this book. I do use that concept with a lot of things, not just ED. When I tell myself I’m doing better than the previous day/week, etc, it brings me a little more peace and boost to go forward. Always looking for more motivation and this is a good one.

  • Melissa Groman, LCSW

    Thanks Jenni and everyone! so much for your support for my new book! Trauma, both emotional and physical is such an important and tender topic, and I’m so glad we are part of such a supportive community that values healing emotional pain and forging forward!

  • Jackie Rohde Bolen

    I have stuggled with some of this for the majority of my life. It is hard as an adult to accept that this isn’t something you outgrow once you are no longer teenager. Despite the fear and embarassment, I have recently decided I deserve to be healthy and whole. I would love to read this book and have a “friend” walking beside in this journey.

  • Jenny

    I have suffered from all three throughout my life… recovery is definitely not a linear path! Jenni, thank you for helping us all hold onto hope!!

  • Les

    This sounds like a wonderful book. As a young woman in early recovery from self-injury and binge eating, I know I could learn a lot from this!

  • Tammy Mormino

    I have suffered from all three and recovery is not easy. It is a day by day job.

  • Jen Durell

    I can relate and it’s great to see this topic get attention because it’s sad how interconnected these factors can be.

  • Thanks for all of your comments! As an FYI, we’ll randomly select the book winner later today.

    Importantly, if you are still struggling, stay strong. It DOES get better.

  • Lyndy

    I’ve been working with families affected by eating disorders for seven years now. This is a topic that comes up often. I look forward to reading the book even if I don’t win a copy!

  • Alicia Brown

    This book sounds awesome! I would love to read it. I just listened to an interview with Melissa Groman on the Recovery Warriors podcast, and was so impressed with her insights. I would love to win a copy of her book.

  • Liv

    I am currently struggling to stay afloat… have dealt with all three. Every day is a new start, but it’s so hard!

  • Andrea

    This sounds like an amazing book! I am definitely going to make sure I get the chance to read it! 🙂

  • Lori

    Very interested in this book!

  • Whitney312

    I would love to win a copy of this book, sounds like it could be very helpful to my life.

  • ShyLynn Heath

    For the last 16 years I’ve been struggling with it all, I’m to a point of giving up on myself because everyone else has, but I do have a little hope still there, Maybe I’m just missing a piece to the puzzle of my healing, maybe this book is what’s missing for me to change.

  • deyanira

    I really would love to read this book.

  • Andrea

    I want to win this book! I think it sounds amazing and would help me get to a better place.

  • Michelle B

    Sounds like a good, and helpful book. Definitely something to pick up & read through with my professional team.

  • Kristine Strangis

    This book is sounds truly inspiring and amazing. It really emphasizes the crucial point that eating disorders are not just about food, but rather the food part is a symptom of deeper traumas that are reinforced through dangerous learned behaviors.

    In my own recover experience, I had to dig deep into myself in order to find what it was that was holding me back from full recovery. And, rather than the issues being all around food, like I many assume, it connected back to my genes, traumas that I had been through in my past, and the eating disorder behaviors that I had learned that I used to mask these buried secrets.
    Well, now that I am recovered, which to me is continuously choosing to stay on my journey through life, I have learned to face and feel the past, and live in the moment. Now, I use healthy coping behaviors such as writing and music to keep me balanced; it is my passions that keep me strong and, as long as I keep staying true to myself, my world will balance itself out.

  • Sunlva

    Really feels likes reading this is the next (and vitally important) step in my recovery 😉 Thx for letting us know about it x

  • Jenna Ciferri-Jenkins

    As someone in recovery, I’m always looking to find new books and resources for guidance and inspiration. This book sounds amazing and definitely inspiring, can’t wait to read it!

  • Guest

    Did you have to keep that on your finger the whole trip? That is a HILARIOUS souvenir–way to face your fears!

  • Taylor

    I will have to go read this whole book. This excerpt is wonderful. I love that she talks about there being no finish line or final destination, just a lot of awesome milestones.

  • LaurenMarsh

    From Sunny Cape Town, South Africa…Jenni your podcast on recovery warriors really propelled me into recovery! I would LOVE to read your book!

  • Melissa Groman, LCSW

    just reading everyone’s comments and saying another thank you – and thinking about how so often we can find internal solutions to external difficulties especially when we agree to take good care of ourselves, especially when we are hurting…

  • Amy Granger Allen

    I have just recently been able to see the connection between trauma from many years ago and my ED. I am hoping that such great resources will continue to help me in my recovery:)

  • Rachael

    Definitely adding this one to my book wish list.

  • MJ

    Thank you for continuing to inspire so many people on overcoming adversary and restoring their lives to wholeness.. I look forward to reading this.

  • St. Louis Behavioral Medicine

    Eating disorders don’t look the same for everyone. They present in many ways and their expression may change within individuals over time

  • Lucia Silvera Fullmer

    I found this article while searching ways to understand my daughter’s self-harming behavior related to her eating disorder. I believe this book could be very useful to us in helping her deal with ther eating disorder.