They call it the Onion

“There is a great deal of pain in life and perhaps the only pain that can be avoided is the pain that comes from trying to avoid pain”

R.D. Laing

I have been dreading this exercise yet I know I have to go through this exercise to start the work to getting to the other side. The healing side. The purpose of this exercise is to start to make the connection between my eating disorder and the reasons why behaviors exist.

I know why it is called the “Onion”, I learned years ago it’s about the layers and layers of stuff that separate me from my behavior. This segment we started to identify our symptoms and the way that they have affected our relationships in our lives. This made me realize I feel nothing, numbness seemed to be a common answer and I hoped that it wouldn’t be. We then jumped to the core of the onion, and explored the difficult life experiences that we have had.  I wrote out my thoughts in this section and again continued to feel very detached, including when we started to explore what internal messages that such experiences may create.

The last 2 sections left to explore and expand on are identifying the various defenses that we may have developed to protect our fragile selves from life’s challenges. Yet we are able to come to an understanding of the functions which our eating disorder has served in our lives, we can better see how our symptoms, relationships and defenses helps us to manage or past life experiences and internalized core beliefs we may have about ourselves.

So I took the example provided and the blank sheet provided and started my task. Here is what I wrote down. 


  • Eating Disorder
  • Perfectionism
  • Binge Drinking
  • Stealing
  • Compulsive Over Exercising
  • Diet Pills
  • Obsessions
  • Fear of Change
  • Laxatives
  • Purging
  • Food Restrictions

Relationship Behaviors

  • No sex drive
  • Isolate
  • being vague
  • lie
  • Blame Myself
  • Overfunctioning (Manic)
  • Under Functioning (Depression)
  • Put on a “front” to people
  • Aggressive or demanding actions


  • Minimization
  • Somatization
  • Idealization
  • Devaluization
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Intellectualization
  • Displacement
  • Regression
  • Detached

Functions (this is what makes my eating disorder makes me feel)

  • Avoid Feelings or Issues
  • Feel more in control
  • Improve Self Esteem
  • Feel special
  • Provide an Identity
  • Communicate need for attention or care
  • Secrecy

Internalization Messages

  • How can anyone love me when I don’t know how to?
  • I’m Fat
  • I’m Ugly
  • I can’t trust anyyone
  • If I just did all that my eating disorder wants life wouldn’t be so hard.

Difficult life Experiences

  • 2 bankruptcies
  • Loss of Father early in my life
  • Emotional, Mental, Physical, Sexual, Financial, abusive relationships
  • Loss of Grandparents
  • Unmet emotional need from my mother and sister
  • Feelings (Sadness, Fear, Anger, Many conflicting feelings, guilt, shame, confusion, powerlessness)

For a moment I hesitated about writing this all out in full, then I reminded myself to let everything fall where they may, this is my recovery and that’s all that matters.



7 thoughts on “They call it the Onion

  1. By sharing this I believe it will bring you to a more comfortable place with yourself. This is your journey. This is your truth and you are on the right path now. In the end that is all that matters.

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