Eileen, Absence Wounds, and Ice-Cream

Ever since she was a young woman, Eileen had struggled with eating more than she needed, and was then also burdened with a corresponding chronic unhappiness with her weight. She had been able to lose weight on many occasions, but had never been able to maintain her eating and weight at a good place. In fact, she had spent much of her adult life either dieting to lose weight or gaining it back again. (Her chagrined estimate is that she lost and then regained the same 15 to 25 pounds at least fifteen times.) For as long as she could remember, Eileen had also had a vague sense that something was missing – a sense that there was something she needed, but could never quite get – a restless, empty, unsatisfied feeling that she could never quite focus or resolve. And this vague, empty, restless, unsatisfied feeling was connected to her struggle with overeating because she would feel better, at least temporarily, when she would eat.

This is where ice cream comes in, because she would especially feel better when she would eat ice cream. She wasn’t actually consciously aware of how she was self-medicating a chronic, aching emotional pain, but she was certainly aware of how much she liked ice cream: “I have always loved ice cream, as long as I can remember. And not just one little dish, but huge amounts….I could eat an enormous amount of ice cream….I couldn’t seem to get enough of it….It would satisfy some kind of craving deep inside of me.” She would keep four half-gallon containers of ice cream in her freezer at all times, after having a great big bowl in the kitchen, she would sneak upstairs, hide somewhere, and eat more ice cream in secret because she was embarrassed to be eating so much, she would eat ice cream whenever she was upset, and she had more ice cream every night before going to bed. Unfortunately, when you have a compulsive, addictive pattern of self medicating emotional pain with a frozen mixture of fat and sugar, you tend to be unhappy with your weight.

In may of 2005, these pieces all came together when Eileen received Immanuel approach emotional healing in one of our training group demonstration sessions. In the first part of the session, Eileen went back to memories of being a small child, wanting and needing emotional connection with her mother, but instead of receiving positive attention and emotional connection she was chronically unseen, ignored, and unwanted. From the inside of one particular memory, Eileen reports, “I’m three. I’m in the kitchen. My mother is by the counter. I need her, [but] she’s ignoring me, and there isn’t anything I can do to get her attention….I’m crying, but she’s not hearing me….It’s like she doesn’t know I’m here,” “I see her, but she’s absent,” “I’ve been waiting a long time for her to notice me and want me,” and “I just keep hoping that she’s going to pay attention to me….I keep hoping that I can do something to break through….There’s like a wall. I can’t break through the wall that’s around her. I can see her [but I can’t get to her].” Reflecting on these same memories from the perspective of her adult self, Eileen reports: “My mother…was a very depressed person, and very withdrawn….She was somewhere else – she wasn’t there.” Eileen does not have a single memory of her mother holding her, or of her mother saying, “I love you.”

And for as long as she could remember, Eileen had had an empty, unsatisfied feeling – a sense that something was missing – a sense that there was something she needed, but could never quite get.

Thankfully, Jesus can heal “absence wounds” (wounds left by the absence of things we need but don’t get).* With troubleshooting at several points to remove blockages, three-year-old Eileen was able to experience Jesus’ living, healing presence with her in the kitchen, where she had been stuck for so long, needing and longing for connection that she could never get. Jesus gave the little girl in the memory the things that she had not gotten from her mother. Where her mother had not noticed her or wanted to be with her, Jesus focused on her intently and was glad to be with her. Where her mother had never said “I love you,” Jesus said “I have loved you…from the beginning of time.” And where her mother had never held her, Jesus picked her up, set her on His lap, and held her so closely that she could feel His heart beating. Jesus cared for and filled the places where she had previously always felt empty and unsatisfied. Immediately after the session, Eileen wrote in her journal, “I feel loved, wanted,…cared for, connected, wonderful, not hungry, not tired, content,…peaceful, and joyful.”

The subject of ice cream, over-eating, and excess weight never actually came up during the session, but a couple of months afterward she realized that she was no longer eating ice cream. “I’d be driving home from work and I’d think, ‘I’m gonna go get some ice cream.’ And then another part of me would say, ‘I don’t want any ice cream.’” At a followup interview seven months after the initial Immanuel approach session, Eileen reported, “I really have not had ice cream hardly at all – I have some in my freezer right now. It’s been in there since Thanksgiving. I have not had any. I hardly even remember it’s there. I see it and it doesn’t mean a thing to me.” And then she commented spontaneously, “…on some very deep level I’ve been comforted by something other than ice cream, and I don’t need ice cream any more.” At a followup interview in May of 2006, a full year after the initial session, Eileen reported that she had lost ten pounds since the change in her attitude and behavior with respect to ice cream. Furthermore, these ten pounds had melted away without any dieting, exercise program, or any other weight loss intervention, and she seemed to be staying at this new, lower weight without any thought or effort.

Finally, Eileen sits in front of me today, nearly eight years after the session in our training group, forty pounds lighter and feeling good about herself. She reports that ever since the healing interactions between herself and Jesus in the three-year-old kitchen memory, she has continued to feel satisfied in the place where she had always previously felt emptiness and craving. And her compulsive, addictive pattern of ice cream consumption has never returned. The additional thirty pounds did not melt away effortlessly, like the first ten (she has participated in the Curves program, with deliberate discipline regarding both eating and exercise since 2006), but this is still the first time in her life that she has been able to maintain her weight at such a stable, healthy place.**

Note: this session was recorded, and is available under the Live Ministry Session DVD title, Eileen: “Immanuel Intervention” (Intermediate).

~Karl Lehman, M.D., personal collection of Immanuel stories


*The concepts of “type A,” or “absence trauma” (trauma from the absence of good things that you needed but didn’t get), and “type B” trauma (trauma from the presence of bad things that should not have happened) come from The Life Model: Living From the Heart Jesus Gave You, by James Friesen, E. James Wilder, and others (Shepherd’s House, Inc: Van Nuys, CA), 2000. See p.42 and following for their definitions and commentary. For more of our thoughts about “type A” trauma, see “The Immanuel Approach and ‘type A’ trauma” in the “Advanced Topics/Special Subjects” section of the “Resources” page of the Immanuel approach website (www.immanuelapproach.com).

**Eileen has maintained her weight within five pounds of her current baseline for the past three years.

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